New Research Directions in Archaeology and Linguistic History of Hokkaido Ainu

Colloquium | September 13 | 3-4:30 p.m. |  2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Gary Crawford, University of Toronto

 Center for Japanese Studies (CJS)

Over the last 30 years data related to ancestral Ainu material culture, settlement pattern, chronology, subsistence, genetics, and linguistics have provided new insight into their identity, origin, and relationships with the rest of Japan through time. In particular, palaeoethnobotany (the study of the relationships between plants and people) has been instrumental in conceptualizing the Satsumon and Ainu as populations with a complex history that included dry-field (rain-fed) agriculture rather than hunting-gathering alone or the diverse mix of wet-rice and dry-field production elsewhere in Japan. This complex history, partially revealed by the history of agriculture and the dispersion of crops to and within Northeastern Japan, involved long term, continued involvement and interactions with the rest of Japan. Furthermore, significant discontinuity marks the transition from Epi-Jomon to Satsumon so the Ainu are no longer considered an isolate of remnant Jomon (from a cultural perspective) in the Northeast.

Prof. Gary Crawford is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in archaeological botany and environmental archaeology. The field is known as palaeoethnobotany or archaeobotany. His current focus is East Asia where he is investigating the origins and intensification of agriculture. Actually, he’s never strayed far from East Asia, having first travelled to Japan in 1974. After working there for many years it was logical to begin focusing on China too, where he began to establish contacts in 1986. He has also investigated human and plant interactions in eastern North America (mainly Ontario and Kentucky with his first field experience being a foray into the wilds of Wisconsin). His work is informed by a comparative approach. The similarities and difference between Eastern North America and East Asia between 10,000 and 1000 years ago are especially intriguing., 510-642-3415