The Chronology of the Jomon Period

    The use of pottery and a hunting-gathering subsistence economy are the two trademarks of the Jomon period.  As the word Jomon in Japanese implies, the pottery is usually decorated with cord marking.  As you can see on other pages, not all pottery was decorated with cord-marking though.

    The Jomon period is divided into six sub-periods.  The sequence is as follows:

Sub-Period Dates
Incipient Jomon 13,000 - 8000 BC
Initial Jomon 8000 - 5000 BC
early Jomon 5000 - 2500 BC
Middle Jomon 2500 - 1500 BC
Later Jomon 1500 - 1000 BC
Final Jomon 1000 - 300 BC

It should be kept in mind that the above dates are approximate; different scholars have different ideas on the duration of each sub-period.  For example, compare the differences between Kidder (1968, 1993), Kobayashi (1992), and Pearson (1990) on when the Late and Final Jomon periods began.  In part, this is due to the chronology being based off of the pottery typologies.  While radiocarbon dates are commonly run in post-excavation studies, there has been little serious attempt at trying to build chronologies from them.

    The above sub-periods are also sub-divided based on the type of pottery used.  For the different geographic regions of Japan, often a single pottery type was used for a set amount of time.

   To explore the common features and differences between each sub-period in the Jomon period, click on the link above.  As we'll see, each sub-period has distinct and unique features.