Walter Edwards of Tenri University reported in a message to H-Japan that the newest issue of “Noteworthy Archaeological Sites” is online. The report consists of a selection of items from 『発掘された日本列島２００８』, translated into English. The members of the Committee for International Relations of the Japanese Archaeological Association (JAA), who translate these and other materials on the JAA website, have carefully chosen at least one site from each major period in Japanese archaeological studies: paleolithic, Jomon, Yayoi, Kofun, antiquity, medieval, and “modern” (which seems to begin in the 16th century).
One site introduced in this issue is Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, which was incribed on the UNESCO role of World Heritage Sites in 2007. Anyone who has followed the literature in Japanese on 16th- and 17th-century silver production, or for that matter the discussion of the role of Japanese silver in the Asian-centered global trade before the 18th century (Andre Gunder Frank’s ReORIENT has a whole chapter on the subject), will find this brief summary–which includes historical and contemporary maps, photos of the mine, and photos of excavatated objects–to be an extremely useful source.
As a historian of the 16th century who is particularly interested in material culture, I was also excited to read about the excavation of a refuse pit in the Osaka Castle site, one of the most important active sites for this period. I visited the site and saw some materials related to my previous research project, Raku ceramics, in 1997, but haven’t kept up with excavation reports. This particular pit has yielded a range of food remains, including abalone, deer, chicken, fowl, sea bream, cod, clam, oysters, and many others. What a meal! The discovery of pufferfish remains made me wonder; maybe it was badly cut Tetraodontidae sushi that killed Hideyoshi?
Anyway, the pit even included chopsticks and ceramic vessles from Karatsu, Mino, and Tamba. This brief discussion only skims the surface of the sites described in this and the previous four issues.