Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.602-606

УДК 903.53

Burials in Jars with Anthropomorphic Images During the Yayoi Period in Japan

Solovyeva E.A.

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Burials in jars have been known in Japan for several hundred years starting from the Jomon period. In the Late Jomon, burials in vessels (kamekan) were used for children and were secondary burials. Secondary burials in jars occurred in the Yayoi period (3rd century BC - 3rd century AD). This practice was common especially in Eastern Japan. The dogu clay figurines were also sometimes used as funeral urns. A special group of urns consisted of jars with anthropomorphic images. The largest number of such jars was discovered during the excavation of the Izumisakashit, Odzakat, Onotenjinyama, and Kaigo sites in the present-day Ibaraki Prefecture. Jars with anthropomorphic images have been usually found in burials along with other vessels; they are usually larger in size. Findings of soil and bone fragments inside the jars as well as small size of the neck suggest that these burials were secondary. This group of jars has a similar archaeological context and common features. Details of representing eyes and mouth are comparable to a tattoo; “faces” of several vessels show traces of red pigment. The appearance of special vessels for secondary burials of a very small number of people is associated with changes in the social life of the Yayoi period. Social structure became more sophisticated and special rituals typical of different social groups developed with the spread of wet rice cultivation. Burials in jars with anthropomorphic images can be associated with persons of special status, such as rulers or priests. The concentration of such jars in a specific territory may indicate the preservation of the tradition from the previous period and its transformation.


Jomon period, Yayoi period, kamebo, secondary burials, anthropomorphic images

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

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Academician V.I. Molodin

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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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