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Re: Japanese origins

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  • mirabarska
    ... Yoshizaki used ... city in ... crucial ... years ago. ... modern ... but part of ... near Aomori, ... long known ... only in 1992 ... evidence that ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 29, 2005
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      --- In SACC-L@yahoogroups.com, "Popplestone, Ann"
      <Ann.Popplestone@... wrote:
      > From today's NY Times:
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Out of the Mist Looms, Maybe, the First Japanese
      > /library/world/asia/040299japan-origins.1.jpg.html
      > </library/world/asia/040299japan-origins.1.jpg.html>
      > /library/world/asia/040299japan-origins.1.jpg.html
      > </library/world/asia/040299japan-origins.1.jpg.html>
      > By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
      >
      >
      > OMORI, Japan -- When he was a boy, Tomihiro
      Yoshizaki used
      > to dig for arrowheads in some strange mounds of earth outside this
      city in
      > northern Japan.
      > Now those mounds have been excavated, resolving
      crucial
      > mysteries about the ancient hunter-gatherers who lived here 5,000
      years ago.
      > Just one mystery remains: to what extent are Yoshizaki and other
      modern
      > Japanese descended from those ancient people?
      >
      >
      >
      > The origins of the Japanese people remain a much-debated puzzle,
      but part of
      > it is being pieced together here on the vast archeological site
      near Aomori,
      > 375 miles north of Tokyo. Local people like Yoshizaki, 45, had
      long known
      > about the mounds and the artifacts. But they were investigated
      only in 1992
      > when surveyors preparing to build a baseball stadium uncovered
      evidence that
      > this was once a village of the Jomon people who lived in Japan
      from 10,000
      > B.C. to about 300 B.C.
      > Now the site is perhaps the most important archeological dig in
      Japan,
      > attracting half a million tourists a year and shedding new
      insights into
      > prehistoric life here. Moreover, even after filling 40,000 boxes of
      > material, archeologists say that they have at least 15 more years'
      work
      > before they have completed their investigations here.
      > "The city of Aomori had very little history," mused
      Yoshizaki. "But now all
      > of a sudden we have a great deal of history, and we're very proud
      of it."
      > The excavations have aroused enormous interest in Japan, where
      archeology is
      > a national craze. Japan spends more than $1 billion annually in
      public funds
      > to excavate some 13,000 sites each year, archeology books become
      best
      > sellers, and leading experts often appear on television.
      > The issues are in some ways political as well as archeological
      because of
      > the intense rivalries in East Asia. North Korea claims that it,
      not Africa,
      > is where humans first appeared. South Koreans believe that it was
      their
      > emigrants who brought civilization to Japan and that a Korean clan
      probably
      > founded the Japanese imperial family. Chinese suggest that Xu Fu,
      an ancient
      > Chinese envoy who was sent to Japan in the third century B.C.,
      became
      > Japan's first emperor, Jimmu.
      > These theories have not been a big hit in Japan. But the underlying
      > competition may be one reason for the pride in new findings that
      the Jomon
      > people who lived in Japan even earlier -- about 10,000 B.C. to 300
      B.C. --
      > were much more sophisticated than anybody had expected.
      > Jomon sites have been found all over Japan, but the excavations
      here have
      > been the most startling. The first discovery was of six enormous
      holes in
      > the ground with the remains of wooden pillars one yard thick,
      evidently the
      > base for some huge structure.
      > "This stunned people, and not only because it raised questions
      about how
      > they cut and dragged the logs," said Yasuhiro Okada, a chief
      archeologist at
      > the site in Aomori. "But also because it suggests a certain
      population and
      > level of technology and social organization. This all showed much
      greater
      > skills than we had assumed for these hunter-gatherers, and it was
      a stunning
      > discovery for most Japanese."
      > Further investigation showed that the site was a settled village
      with
      > hundreds of inhabitants and separate cemeteries for children and
      adults, and
      > that its people had dabbled in agriculture by planting chestnuts
      and millet
      > and other domesticated plants. There apparently was trade, for the
      dig
      > turned up jade from 400 miles to the south and obsidian from the
      northern
      > island of Hokkaido.
      > The traditional view had been that virtually all culture
      originated in Korea
      > and China and then spread to Japan, but now some Japanese
      archeologists
      > point to evidence that some innovations went the other way. They
      suggest
      > that buckwheat farming, lacquerware-making and other innovations
      originated
      > in Japan and then traveled to Korea and China.
      > "We know that we have learned many things from Korea and China,"
      said Makoto
      > Sahara, a historian and director general of the National Museum of
      Japanese
      > History. "But not all things."
      > There is a complication, though. While modern Japanese feel pride
      in Jomon
      > achievements, analysis of skeletons suggests that the Jomon did
      not look
      > like modern Japanese.
      > Instead, they had features that made them look more like
      Caucasians and they
      > seem to have resembled the Ainu, an ethnic group that still lives
      in tiny
      > numbers in northern Japan. In the museum here in Aomori, Japanese
      tourists
      > wandered by exhibits about the Jomon and gazed affectionately at
      pictures of
      > what their Jomon ancestors are believed to have looked like --
      even though
      > the only one in the room who looked much like the pictures was an
      American.
      > One theory has been that waves of immigrants from China and Korea
      quickly
      > displaced the Jomon people and their culture in about 300 B.C.They
      ushered
      > in the Yayoi period, which emphasized rice paddy cultivation and
      whose
      > people looked more like today's Japanese.
      > In the last decade, a growing body of skeletal, DNA and linguistic
      analysis
      > has suggested that modern Japanese are the product of both Jomon
      people and
      > the Yayoi immigrants from China and Korea -- and perhaps other
      population
      > infusions as well.
      > Satoshi Horai, a scholar, argues that modern Japanese are a mix of
      about 35
      > percent Jomon and 65 percent Yayoi. That would mean that Japanese
      are
      > descended mostly from Chinese and Koreans but also have an
      important Jomon
      > component.
      > "The recent DNA studies clearly indicate the close genetic
      relationship
      > between the Japanese on the main islands and the Koreans in
      particular,"
      > said Keiichi Omoto, a leading scholar on the origins of Japanese.
      > Scholars note that despite the perception in Japan and abroad that
      Japanese
      > are homogeneous, there is considerable regional variation in
      physical
      > appearance. In particular, Japanese in northern provinces tend to
      have
      > rounder eyes and more body hair and wider faces, traits that may
      suggest a
      > bit more Jomon heritage.
      > A museum at the site in Aomori offers a computer screen to advise
      visitors
      > on the proportion of their blood that comes from the Jomon, based
      on their
      > eyes and body hair and other characteristics.
      > "People in northern Japan can be 60 to 80 percent of Jomon origin,
      while
      > those from western or southern Japan are 40 percent Jomon or
      less," said
      > Okada, the archeologist. He added: "The Jomon people were the real
      ancestors
      > of the Japanese. They formed the base."
      >
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