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Exhibition of the results of the excavation of Tonouchi Midden—Inba-Tega in the Heisei Period

Ryota Nakakado
Research Associate, Aizu Yaichi Museum

The Archaeological Course of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Waseda University includes the practice of excavation during the summer vacation, as part of the regular class titled “Archaeological Practice.” Since academic year 2003, we have excavated Tonouchi Midden in Inzai City, Chiba Prefecture for the field study. The excavation was finished in academic year 2010, unearthed articles were studied, and then this exhibition for showing the results was scheduled to be held at the Aizu Museum.

Overview of Tonouchi Midden

Photograph 1 Tonouchi Midden excavation district and the Inba Marsh (taken from north in 2008)

Tonouchi Midden is located in Moroto, Inzai City (former Inba Village, Inba District), Chiba Prefecture, and on a plateau at about 29 m altitude in the north shore of the Inba Marsh (Photograph 1). The relation between Waseda University and Tonouchi Midden is old. The deceased Professor Hiroshi Takiguchi (School of Education) summarized the results of the excavation of the remains surrounding the sites for reclaiming the Inba and Tega Marshes in 1959 and 1960 into “Inba-Tega.” In this literature, he introduced Tonouchi Midden as a shell heap in the late Jomon Period.

With the academic purpose of “researching the society in the late and final Jomon Period,” the Archaeological Laboratory of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Waseda University excavated Tonouchi Midden 7 times, starting with the survey in March 2004 and ending in September 2010. The research results in each academic year have been announced via academic journals, including “Bulletin of the Graduate Division of Literature of Waseda University.” This exhibition is aimed at disclosing the compilation of these researches to a broad range of people.

Large pits and dwelling

The remarkable outcome of the research by Waseda University is that a number of large pits in the late Jomon Period (about 3,400 to 3,200 years ago: note) and the dwelling sites in the late and last years of Jomon Period (about 3,300 to 3,000 years ago) were discovered.

Photograph 2 Scene of the excavation of the pit No. 797

Photograph 3 Unearthed articles from dwelling sites and surrounding areas

The large pits are holes with a diameter of over 1 m and a depth of over 1.5 m, from which perfectly-shaped earthenware and large earthen shreds, etc. were unearthed. The earthenware was not discarded randomly, but broken and buried or placed there intentionally (Photograph 2). Therefore, it can be inferred that these large pits were used for holding some rites using earthenware, rather than for digging a well, setting columns, or storing goods.

The dwelling have a nested structure composed of an elliptical place with an estimated diameter of 5 m × 4.6 m and a rounded-corner rectangle with a length of 7.2 m and a width of 6.9 m. From the dwelling and surrounding areas, a large amount of unique remnants that are not used in daily lives, such as the shreds of clay figures, earrings, and small ground stone axes, were excavated (Photograph 3). Inside the dwelling, we found at least 6 heated spots other than hearth parts. This indicates some difference from ordinary residential buildings.

In Chiba Prefecture, many remains of large houses with a diameter exceeding 10 m in the late and last years of Jomon Period were discovered, and they are characterized by the nested structure, unique remnants, and the scattering of roasted soil, etc. Such large houses are considered to have been the places for holding rites rather than living. The dwelling of Tonouchi Midden excavated by Waseda University are also considered to have been the facilities with the same characteristics as the large houses, although their scale is slightly smaller than that of the large houses.

The total area researched by Waseda University was 198 ㎡, which is not so large, but a lot of number pits are clustered there and dwelling with unique properties adjoin them. The research district is located at the southeast edge of the plateau, and so it is speculated that the site was at the edge of a village. According to the research conducted by Inba Village Education Board in 1981, two remains of pit houses were discovered about 80 m northwest of the research district of Waseda University, and these are considered to have been used for living. Accordingly, it can be inferred that the residents around Tonouchi Midden in the late and final Jomon Period constructed a special space for holding rituals and rites in a location away from their daily residential area.

Archaeological in the late and final Jomon Period in the vicinity of the Inba Marsh

This exhibition also displays the reference materials regarding Inonagawari site in Sakura City, which is located at the opposite shore of the Inba Marsh, and Baba site in Inzai City, which is located about 8 km north of Tonouchi Midden. In the two sites, large pits and residential ruins were discovered, like Tonouchi Midden. They are similar to Tonouchi Midden also in that perfectly-shaped earthenware and large shreds of earthen vessels were unearthed from large pits while clay figures and earthen plates were excavated in large dwelling. In addition, large pits were discovered apparently at the edge of a village, and their layouts resemble that of Tonouchi Midden. In Baba site, unique artifacts, including earthen plates and earrings, were unearthed also from large pits. There is a possibility that the adjacent large house was dismantled in the late Jomon Period and the functional distinction between large houses and pits became vague.

Memory of the excavation of Tonouchi Midden

Photograph 4 Inside of the exhibition room

Another remarkable feature of this exhibition is the “people” who have engaged in this research. Since I was involved in the research of Tonouchi Midden from the survey, it was delightful to keep engaging in it through to the exhibition. The showcased materials have the 10-year history of steady efforts, including measurement, excavation, and the organization, grafting, and restoration of unearthed artifacts. These tasks were conducted by mainly the graduate and undergraduate students of the Archaeological Course of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and many students are still cooperative in producing final reports. This exhibition is focused on the review of the research history, and many photo panels showing the scenes of excavation are displayed (Photograph 4). The detailed academic results will be included in a report to be published in March 2014. A lot of people worked for disclosing the outcome of excavation, which is one of the fundamentals for archaeological research, through an exhibition.

The photo panels were first considered to be supplementary, but when selecting the past photos of our research, I came to want to introduce all of the people in the photos if possible. Beautiful things and academic results are common in museums. Meanwhile, I am modestly proud that our exhibition introduces the research results, staff members, and atmosphere, which characterizes college museums. We hope that visitors will feel the atmosphere in which students were happy and excited to discover remnants, and enjoying excavation, from their countenances, while understanding the research results, scenes, and processes from the photo panels. Above all, if my colleagues, seniors, and juniors who conducted this research together visit this exhibition and recall our research, I will be in seventh heaven as a person in charge of the exhibition.

Note: To confirm the Christian years of Jomon Period, I referred to “Calendar years of Jomon Period, Archaeology of Jomon Period 2, Ruler of History—Chronology for the research into Jomon Period,” Kenichi Kobayashi, 2008

[Exhibition of the results of the excavation of Tonouchi Midden—Inba-Tega in the Heisei Period]

Hosted by: Aizu Yaichi Museum
Cooperated by: Inzai City Education Board, Inzai City Inba Museum of History and Folklore, Sakura City Education Board, and Archaeological Laboratory of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Waseda University

Friday, November 15, 2013 to Saturday, January 18, 2014, 10:00 to 17:00 (allowed to enter the venue till 16:30)
*Closed on Sundays, holidays, December 18, December 22 to January 5, January 13 and 14

Planning & Exhibition Room on the 1st floor of Aizu Yaichi Museum

Ryota Nakakado
Research Associate, Aizu Yaichi Museum

Born in 1982. Entered the Doctoral Program of Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University in 2009. Got the current position in April 2011. Specializing in Japanese archaeology and ethnic archaeology. *The image of the author was taken at the time of the excavation of Tonouchi Midden in 2009.