Sites & cities that bear the name of Sannai-Maruyama


Today in : Japan
First trace of activity : ca. 4,000 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 23rd century B.C.E
Recorded names : 三内丸山遺跡, Sannai-Maruyama iseki

Description : The Sannai-Maruyama Site (三内丸山遺跡, Sannai-Maruyama iseki) is an archaeological site and museum located in the Maruyama and Yasuta neighborhoods to the southwest of central Aomori in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, containing the ruins of a very large Jōmon period settlement. The ruins of a 40-hectare (400,000 m2; 99-acre) settlement were discovered in 1992, when Aomori Prefecture started surveying the area for a planned baseball stadium. Archaeologists have used this site to further their understanding of the transition to sedentism and the life of the Jōmon people. Excavation has led to the discovery of storage pits, above ground storage and long houses. These findings demonstrate a change in the structure of the community, architecture, and organizational behaviors of these people. Because of the extensive information and importance, this site was designated as a Special National Historical Site of Japan in 2000. Today the public can visit the site, its various reconstructions of Jōmon structures, and a museum that displays and houses artifacts collected on the site, which have collectively been designated an Important Cultural Property The Sannai-Maruyama settlement was occupied from the middle of the Early Jōmon period to the end of the Middle Jōmon period (3900 – 2200 BC), and is the largest the Jōmon settlement yet discovered in Japan. It is located on a 20 meter high fluvial terrace on the right bank of the Okidate River, at the tip of a ridge extending southwest from the Hakkōda Mountains. The area was first settled around 3900 BC. The first settlers of the site lived in pit houses. These dwellings typically were about 3–4 meters (9.8–13.1 ft) in diameter. Over 500 pit dwellings have been found on site. Additionally, they stored their food in pits, which allowed them to hide it when they left the site since the occupants were still semi-nomadic. Around 2900 BC, the inhabitants became more sedentary. They began to store food above ground in elevated buildings rather than in pits. Also, longhouses began showing up around this time. Long houses were large, oval-shaped structures. The longest one found at the site was 32 meters (105 feet) long. Scholars believe longhouses were used for meeting places, workshops, or living space. Pit houses were still being inhabited at the same time that longhouses existed on the landscape. One of Sannai-Maruyama's most famous structures, a reconstruction of a large six-pillared building, was originally built around 2,600 BC. This structure consisted of six large chestnut pillars that are believed to have held a series of platforms. Each one of these pillars was around 1 meter in diameter and was placed exactly 4.2 m (14 ft) apart. Evidence for similar large wooden structures has been found at other sites in Japan and the rest of Eurasia, including a wooden precursor to Stonehenge. Most of the wood structure, like other biological remains at the site, deteriorated due to the acidity of the soil; however, the bottoms of the pillars were preserved because they were waterlogged due to their proximity to a marsh. Due to its large size, it is believed that this structure could have functioned as a monument, watchtower, or a lighthouse overlooking Mutsu Bay (which was larger than at present). Remains of other six-pillared buildings from different time periods have been found throughout the site. Many of the post holes from these buildings overlap each other, which suggests that the structures were being rebuilt in the same location and facing the same direction. The site also contained two middens with domestic refuse, two large mounds, containing refuse, including ceremonial artifacts. A large amount of earthenware and stoneware were recovered from these middens, including approximately 2,000 clay figures, wood products, bones and antler objects and tools, and fragments baskets and lacquerware. Some objects made of jade, amber and obsidian and not native to the area, and could only have come to this site via trade. The site also contained over 500 burial pits for adult remains, and numerous jar-burials for infants. Some burials, hypothesized to be for the social elite, were enclosed within stone circles. The settlement of Sannai-Maruyama ended around 2300 BC due to unknown reasons. Its abandonment was likely due to the population's subsistence economy being unable to result in sustained growth, with its end being spurred on by the reduced amount of natural resources during the neoglaciation. However, during the Heian period, a portion of the site was resettled by new inhabitants who also built pit dwellings, and during the Muromachi period, a portion of the site was occupied by a medieval fortification.

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