The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided Tuesday to register a set of ruins from the ancient Jomon Period as a World Heritage cultural property.

The Jomon ruins are 17 sites in Hokkaido and the prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Akita. They include the Sannai Maruyama site in the city of Aomori, which is one of the largest remains of a Jomon settlement.

The set of archaeological sites is the 20th Japanese cultural property on the World Heritage List, after the Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun ancient tumulus clusters in Osaka Prefecture were inscribed as the 19th such property in 2019.

Japan now has a total of 25 properties on the World Heritage List, including natural assets. On Monday, the UNESCO committee decided on the addition of Amami Oshima and other islands in southwestern Japan as natural assets.

The set of Jomon ruins also include the Goshono site, the remains of another large-scale settlement, and the Kamegaoka stone age ruins, where a goggle-eyed dogū clay figurine was unearthed.

Also in the set are sites used for rituals and ceremonies, such as the Isedotai site, featuring four large stone circles, and the Kiusu Earthwork Burial Circles, a mass grave.

The Jomon Period began about 15,000 years ago and lasted more than 10,000 years. People in the era lived settled lives while hunting and gathering.

In its May recommendation of the Jomon ruins as a World Heritage Site, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, or ICOMOS, an advisory panel to UNESCO, said that the sites “represent sedentary pre-agricultural lifeways and a complex spiritual culture of prehistoric people starting about 15,000 years ago.”

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee screened sites submitted for registration in 2020 and 2021, after it postponed a meeting last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s meeting was held online.

Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs did not select a World Heritage Site candidate for next year due to the pandemic.

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