, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 275-308
Date: 09 Dec 2011

Mortuary Variability and Status Differentiation in the Late Jomon of Hokkaido Based on the Analysis of Shuteibo (Communal Cemeteries)

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Abstract

The shuteibo, a type of communal cemetery characterized by a circular embankment, was constructed in the latter half of the Late Jomon (c. 1520 cal BC–1250 cal BC) in Hokkaido, Japan. Shuteibo at the Kiusu, Misawa-1, Bibi-4 and Kashiwagi-B sites are key to understanding the complex hunter-gatherer societies of the Late Jomon. Elite graves inside the shuteibo and non-elite graves outside them show clear differences in terms of grave goods, red ocher and grave markers at Kiusu-4. These communal cemeteries may have been created and maintained by elites who had access to highly valued materials, such as jadeite, through long-distance trade. Differences in the number of graves and grave goods among shuteibo at the Misawa-1 and Bibi-4 sites indicate differences in group size and intra-site elite differentiation. The Kiusu site has both the largest example and the largest concentration of these cemeteries in Hokkaido. At the inter-site level, differences in the size of these communal cemeteries indicate variability in the number of corporate groups as well as in relative power between sites.