News

INTERNATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS IN JAPAN

03.09.2019

From August 3 to 30, 2019, Irina Orlova, Junior Researcher of the Department of Archeology, Sakhalin Regional Museum, participated in international archaeological excavations in Japan on the island of Rebun, as part of the field archaeological school activities (Rebun Archaeological Field School). This school is part of the Russian-Japanese education program «Training of highly skilled specialists with leadership abilities who are capable of playing leading roles in environmental sustainability, culture and development in the Far East and the Arctic regions» (East Russia Ц Japan Expert Education Program RJE3).

Excavations were carried out at the multi-layered Hamanaka-2 site of sea hunters and fishermen, located on a sand dune on the shore of the Sea of Japan. Works on the site have been ongoing for 10 years by a joint team of Japanese and Canadian archaeologists from Hokkaido University (Sapporo), the University of Tokyo (Tokyo), Keio University (Tokyo) and the University of Alberta (Edmonton), with the involvement of specialists from European research centers — Free University of Berlin (Germany), National Museum (Denmark), etc. The methodology of excavation included cleaning of the surface of the site using grid pattern, sifting the soil through a special mesh. Waste soil was neatly packed in dense plastic bags, which were placed in a pile near the excavation site for temporary restoration.

All finds were classified into commonplace findings and those of special importance. Commonplace finds without clear evidence of processing and use, as well as bones being difficult to define, were collected in bags. Finds specified as having great importance including items, ornamented fragments of blood vessels, definable bones, were kept in special labelled bags. The coordinates of the find were taken using a laser total station Ч its position in the trench to the walls and the depth.

The Hamanaka-2 site has nine levels of archaeological remains ranging from the so-called Ainu period to the Late Jomon Epoch (about 4000 years ago), the thickness of the cultural layer is 4 m.
Layer 1 has the evidence of the present-day life of the Ainu residing on the Island — the aborigines of the Japanese archipelago. Layer 2 dates back to the 12th Ц13th centuries, the archaeological evidence of which is mainly represented by fragments of ceramic vessels of Satsumon culture.

Layers 3 and 4 refer to the Okhotsk culture of the early Iron Age which existed here in the 5–12 centuries. It is a cluster of fragments of sea shells, the so-called «shell heaps», among which are fragments of ceramic vessels, metal products, bones, stones. There were numerous fragments of dog bones, which were bred for food and for transport use, as well as pig bones. Scientists believe that representatives of the Okhotsk culture brought pigs from the continent, and dogs from Hokkaido.
Layers 5 and 6 are represented by a small amount of archaeological remains.

Researchers refer Layer 7 to the era of the Epidzemon (Final Jomon) and date it nearly 2000 years old. This layer was especially valuable for study, since it can be characterized as an ancient man tools workshop: there were found numerous flakes, bone and stone tools, and less commonly fragments of ceramic vessels.

In Layer 8, dated to late-final Jomon (2000Ц3500 years ago), heaths lined with rocks were found in large numbers. Thus, scattered remains of the bones of a sea lion, potsherd, a huge number of stone chips and flakes were removed near one large hearth. It should be noted that Jomon pottery is characterized with distinctive rope-cord patterns on the surface of vessels. Stone material is represented by stone tools and waste products of chipped stone tools from obsidian, chalcedony, and local rocks.

Layer 9 below dates of 3,500 years old and belongs to the Late Jomon. This year, finds from this layer were represented by faunal remains.

During her whole fieldwork practice Irina Orlova worked at one of the most interesting sections of the excavation site with a huge number of finds. She was lucky to find stone-work waste, chippers, tools made from the bones of marine animals (spade, harpoons, tips) and fragments of ceramic vessels. Participation in this kind of international expedition is a unique chance for a specialist, because you can not only get acquainted with the methods of work of foreign colleagues, but also share experience and contacts.

Prepared by Irina Orlova, Junior Researcher, Department of Archeology



 

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