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Ancient lipids document continuity in the use of earlyhunter–gatherer pottery through 9,000 years of Japanese prehistory
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2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 113, no 15, 3991-3996 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The earliest pots in the world are from East Asia and date to the LatePleistocene. However, ceramic vessels were only produced in largenumbers during the warmer and more stable climatic conditions ofthe Holocene. It has long been assumed that the expansion of potterywas linked with increased sedentism and exploitation of newresources that became available with the ameliorated climate, butthis hypothesis has never been tested. Through chemical analysis oftheir contents, we herein investigate the use of pottery across anexceptionally long 9,000-y sequence from the Jo¯mon site of Torihamainwestern Japan, intermittently occupied from the Late Pleistocene tothe mid-Holocene. Molecular and isotopic analyses of lipids from 143vessels provides clear evidence that pottery across this sequence waspredominantly used for cooking marine and freshwater resources,with evidence for diversification in the range of aquatic productsprocessed during the Holocene. Conversely, there is little indicationthat ruminant animals or plants were processed in pottery, althoughit is evident from the faunal and macrobotanical remains that thesefoods were heavily exploited. Supported by other residue analysisdata from Japan, our results show that the link between potteryand fishing was established in the Late Paleolithic and lasted wellinto the Holocene, despite environmental and socio-economic change.Cooking aquatic products in pottery represents an enduring socialaspect of East Asian hunter–gatherers, a tradition based on a dependabletechnology for exploiting a sustainable resource in an uncertainand changing world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 113, no 15, 3991-3996 p.
Keyword [en]
archaeology, ceramic, residue analysis, isotope, plant microfossil
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeological Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-129405DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1522908113ISI: 000373762400039OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-129405DiVA: diva2:922149
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-04-22 Last updated: 2016-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Isaksson, Sven
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Archaeological Research Laboratory
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