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A Dietary Study of the Kamegaoka Culture Population during the Final Jomon Period, Japan, Using Stable Isotope and Lipid Analyses of Ceramic Residues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-736
Number of pages16
Issue number4
DateAccepted/In press - 24 Sep 2014
DatePublished (current) - 1 Dec 2015


The Jomon culture is an ancient Japanese society that existed during approximately 14,000 to 400 BC and which is characterized by Jomon (cord pattern) pottery. To investigate the paleodiet of the people of northeastern Tohoku in Japan during the Final Jomon period (about 1000-400 BC), we studied three sites in Aomori Prefecture, the center of the Kamegaoka culture. The Fubinashi site is on the coast and was supported by a rich fishing culture. Imazu was a coastal salt-making site. Sugisawa is a mountainous inland site on the banks of a river. We determined the C-14 ages of the interior and exterior surfaces of carbonized material on potsherds and compared the data with pottery typology and age to study the marine reservoir effect. We also analyzed the bulk carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes and C:N ratios to determine the presence of aquatic foodstuffs. The organic residues from pottery typology corresponding to the described analyses provided a general perspective of differences in the ancient diets at each site. When we recovered sufficient lipids, we analyzed compound-specific stable isotopes of fatty acids to obtain a multilateral view of those diets. Our findings indicate that the diets of inhabitants of both Fubinashi and Imazu consisted primarily of marine products and some terrestrial foodstuffs, whereas people from Sugisawa processed mainly C-3 plants and some terrestrial animals and aquatic commodities.

Additional information

Special issue: Proceedings of the 1st International "Radiocarbon and Diet: Aquatic Food Resources and Reservoir Effects" Conference, 24–26 September 2014, Kiel, Germany

    Research areas

  • Diet, Jomon, ORGANIC RESIDUES, reservoir effect, stable isotope analysis



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