Walnuts, Salmon and Sika Deer: Exploring the Evolution and Diversification of Jōmon “Culinary” Traditions in Prehistoric Hokkaidō

Harry K. Robson*, Alexandre Lucquin, Kevin Gibbs, Hayley Saul, Tetsuhiro Tomoda, Yu Hirasawa, Toshiro Yamahada, Hirofumi Kato, Sven Isaksson, Oliver E. Craig, Peter D. Jordan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The goal of this contribution is to stimulate a wider reflection on the role of food consumption practices throughout prehistory. We focussed on the Jōmon communities of Hokkaidō Island in Northern Japan since these mobile foragers underwent a process of economic diversification and intensification, eventually leading to higher levels of sedentism across the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Moreover, dynamic social settings and expansion of the subsistence base at the start of the Holocene would have provided rich opportunities for novel
food combinations, and potentially, the rise of diverse regional cuisines. We investigated tool kits and resource landscapes, and sampled pottery from a range of sites, phases and regions. We then applied organic residue
analysis to confirm the actual spatiotemporal patterning in cuisine. Although we predicted that ruminants and nuts would have played a major role in local cuisine, especially in inland areas, our results indicate that aquatic
resources were central to pottery-based cuisines across the island, and that other food groups had probably been processed in other ways. While organic residue analysis enabled us to reconstruct some major patterns in Jōmon
cuisine, we conclude that archaeologists will need to look “beyond the cooking pot” to fully appreciate the full diversity of local foodways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101225
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • Adaptation
  • Cuisine
  • Economic diversification and intensification
  • Environmental change
  • Hokkaidō
  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Japan
  • Jōmon
  • Nuts
  • Plant foods
  • Pottery
  • Salmon

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