A government panel identified on Tuesday a set of Jomon Period archaeological sites in northern Japan as a potential candidate for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation in 2021.
Tokyo will submit its formal recommendation by next Feb. 1 to the organization representing the ancient sites, which are located in Hokkaido and Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures.
The sites represent a culture that prevailed on the Japanese archipelago for more than 10,000 years. The Jomon Period is believed to have begun 16,000 years ago.
The UNESCO advisory panel will then assess whether to accept Tokyo’s recommendation before publishing its decision around May 2021.
The archaeological ruins are comprised of 17 locations including the Sannai-Maruyama site, a large settlement in Aomori Prefecture that provides insight into life in the Jomon Period, and the Oyu Kanjo Resseki site, which features two large stone circles, in Akita Prefecture.
Local governments claim the sites, which feature numerous settlements, stone circles and graves, hold global value as they offer clues to understanding prehistoric culture based on hunting and food gathering.
The archaeological sites were previously picked as a potential candidate for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation in July last year. But as recommendations to UNESCO are restricted to one per nation every year, Tokyo decided not to nominate the sites for listing in 2020 in favor of a chain of southwestern islands in Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures that are home to rare species.