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1 January 2018
Painted stone gives clues to ancient Japanese culture

A piece of painted stone depicting part of a human face has been found at Kikonai, Hokkaido. Dating from the Jomon Pottery Culture, circa 8000 BCE to 300 BCE, the artefact is reportedly the first of its kind discovered anywhere in Japan.
     Yasushi Kosugi, a Jomon culture professor at Hokkaido University, says: "The find is extremely precious in that it could help ascertain what the spiritual culture in the mid-Jomon period was like."
     The stone fragment dates from the latter half of the mid-Jomon period (4,300 years ago), and was unearthed where a pit house once stood.
     Shaped like an inverted triangle measuring 12 to 13 centimetres on each side and 14 millimetres thick, the stone was first flattened with a whetstone or other tools. A horizontal line was drawn near the top side with a black pigment. An ellipse that apparently represents an eye, and lines forming eyebrows and the nose are also painted on it.
     A painting of a human body drawn with pigments on the lower part of earthenware excavated at the Todonomiya archaeological site in Nagano Prefecture is known to have been made during the Jomon Pottery Culture, but no drawings of a face have previously been found.

Edited from The Asahi Shimbun (16 December 2017)

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