Fish-shaped Stone Object


Fish-shaped Stone Object


Place excavated:Provenance unknown

Epi-Jomon period, 2nd-1st century BC




Differences in living patterns led to the emergence of three distinct cultures in the long north-to-south expanse of the Japanese archipelago after the end of the Jomon period. The Yayoi culture developed on the main island, the first area in Japan to introduce rice farming, while the late Shell Mound culture developed in the Ryukyu Islands and the Epi-Jomon culture in Hokkaido. The Epi-Jomon folk continued to live in the same way as their Jomon predecessors. They utilized the natural environment through hunting, fishing, and the gathering of nuts.

This stone implement has a spindle, a weight and shape that resembles a fish. It was used as a lure by the Epi-Jomon folk to catch fish. A cord and a hook made from deer antler were wound around the grooves scored at both ends. As it was pulled up and down using the cord, the object would have resembled a fish swimming through water. This would have lured larger fish into trying to eat it. This implement is around 20 centimeters long. Fish tempted by this would have been even larger, so it is thought that the implement was used specifically to catch flounders or halibut, fish that can grow up to two meters in length. The emergence of implements with specific uses in certain times or regions is one of the characteristic features of the Epi-Jomon period.

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