Cultural History of PaleoAsia

Scientific Research on Innovative Areas,
a MEXT Grant-in-Aid Project


A new research article was published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. (A03: Christian Leipe) (Jun. 12, 2020)

Title: Ritual practices and social organisation at the Middle Yayoi culture settlement site of Maenakanishi, eastern Japan

Authors: Christian Leipe, Shunsuke Kuramochi, Mayke Wagner, and Pavel E. Tarasov

Abstract: Combined archaeobotanical and archaeological data from Middle Yayoi (fourth century BCE–first century CE) cultural layers of the Maenakanishi site (36°08′55″ N, 139°24′08″ E) in northern Saitama Prefecture indicate that rice was less significant as everyday food, but played an important role in ritual practices and in strengthening social stratification at the studied settlement site. The results further suggest that the crop was used in feasting performed in context of pillared buildings that were often large and occupied a spatially separated central location within a settlement. We propose that these pillared buildings were residences of political/religious leaders, who directed these rituals related to agricultural production and worship of elite ancestors. Such ritual practices were likely introduced to Japan from continental East Asia as part of the ‘Yayoi package’ and conducted for empowerment and labour mobilisation.

PDF (published Open Access)