Walnuts, salmon and sika deer: exploring the evolution and diversification of Jōmon “culinary” traditions in prehistoric Hokkaidō

Harry Kenneth Robson, Alexandre Jules Andre Lucquin, Kevin Gibbs, Hayley Anne Saul, Tetsuhiro Tomoda, Yu Hirasawa, Toshiro Yamahara, Hirofumi Kato, Sven Isaksson, Oliver Edward Craig, Peter Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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
Early online date16 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sept 2020

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