SEAA


Vol. 2 (2008)
 
ISSN 1864-6018
Editor: Barbara SEYOCK
 
The Beijing 2008 papers
Panel: Island Archaeology in East Asia – Interaction and Isolation (Barbara SEYOCK)

Prehistoric Interaction between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago through Tsushima and Iki Islands
 

MIYAMOTO Kazuo 宮本一夫

Dep. of Archaeology, Kyūshū University, Japan

publ. April 2009

Introduction

Tsushima 対馬 and Iki 壱岐 islands are situated along the main route of prehistoric interaction between southern Korea and northern Kyūshū 九州. According to the Chinese historical record (Chin.) Weizhi 魏志, the diplomats of Wei 魏 country in the 3rd century CE reached northern Kyūshū through these islands from the Korean Peninsula by ship.
In this paper I will elaborate on the changing process of prehistoric interaction between the southern Korean Peninsula and northern Kyūshū by using archaeological material from Tsushima and Iki islands, especially the results of the excavation at Karakami カラカミ site, Iki Island.

Map 1: Location of Iki Island in the Korea Strait.

Interaction in the Neolithic period

Following the Ice Age, southern Korea and northern Kyūshū were separated from each other by a sea channel. From the end of the early Jōmon 縄文 period (5000 BCE), however, the pottery of the two areas reflects increased interaction between peninsular and island populations. Korean Neolithic pottery becomes prominent at Tsushima sites from the early to the middle Jōmon period. Raised linear design pottery (Jap. ryūkisen-mon doki; Kor. yunggiseon-mun togi 隆起線紋土器) stemming from Korea was found at Koshidaka 越高 and Koshidaka-ozaki 越高尾崎 sites (Tsushima) (MIYAMOTO 1990: 37-42, TANI 2004:4) and the Nokubi 野首 site (Ojika 小値賀 Island, Gotō 五島 Archipelago). On the other hand, a few pieces of Jōmon period Todoroki 轟 B type pottery had been found at Dongsam-dong 東三洞and Yondae-do 煙臺島 sites in Korea (MIYAMOTO 1990: 37-42, YI 1998:62-95).
The influence of Korean pottery on Japanese types is relatively strong (see Fig. 1). In the first half of the middle Jōmon period, the situation is still the same; middle Neolithic pottery was found at Meotoiwa site (Tsushima) and a piece of Funamoto type pottery of Jōmon was found at Dongsam-dong site in Korea. Interaction between the two areas probably was related to the search for large fish and sea animals in the Korean Straits. Further evidence for such interaction are the composite fish hooks and saw-shaped stone implements (harpoons), originating from Korea, found in Kyūshū during this period (see WATANABE 1985; TAKAKURA 1995:39-43).
 

Fig. 1: Reciprocal influences of pottery types (South Korea and northern Kyūshū).


The movement of pottery became even stronger from the end of the middle Jōmon to the beginning of the late Jōmon period, c. 2000 BCE. Pottery of the late Neolithic of Korea was found at Yoshida 吉田 and Nukashi ヌカシ sites (Tsushima) (MIYAMOTO 2004: 14-19; KANEGAE and MITSUJI 2004:27-37; TANI 2004:4; SAKATA 1978:82-88), whereas the Nanpukuji 南福寺 and Kitakuneyama 北久根山 types of Late Jōmon pottery, which date to the same period as the late Neolithic of Korea, were found at Dongsam-dong site in Korea. At Yoshida site chipped obsidian raw materials have been unearthed, similar to those from Koshidake 腰岳 site (Saga Prefecture佐賀[県]) in northern Kyūshū. As the same kind of obsidian products were moreover found at several sites in southern Korea, obsidian obviously was traded to the Korean Peninsula by Jōmon people.

Interaction in the Bronze Age

During the (Kor.) Mumun 無文 (coarse plain) pottery culture of Korea, following the Neolithic, polished stone tools begun to be used, while the import of chipped obsidian tools from northern Kyūshū came to an end. Mutual trading between the two areas ceased during this period. In Japanese reckoning this applies to the latter half of late Jōmon and the final Jōmon period.
Immigrations from the southern Korean Peninsula to northern Kyūshū instead triggered the emergence of the Yayoi culture (Jap. Yayoi bunka 弥生文化), which is characterized by irrigated agriculture and which shows influences of middle phase Mumun pottery culture. Initial Yayoi dates from the 8th century BCE (MIYAMOTO 2008d), and some archaeological evidence of this period is apparent for Tsushima and Iki islands.

At the next step of interaction between southern Korea and northern Kyūshū was reached when bronze weapons began to be exported to Kyūshū at the end of Early Yayoi to the beginning of Middle Yayoi period (ca. 300 BCE). This time is corresponding to the late Mumun pottery culture. Several early bronze weapons were found at Harunotsuji 原の辻 site in Iki Island. Late Mumun pottery was also found there. The distribution of Mumun pottery is limited to a certain area of the Harunotsuji site. This indicates that immigrants from Korea inhabited only limited parts of settlements, separated from domestic Yayoi people. These immigrants may have been traders bringing bronzes to northern Kyūshū. In northern Kyūshū as well, some sites show similar structures. At Yoshinogari 吉野ヶ里 or Habu 土生 sites (Saga Prefecture), Mumun pottery finds also concentrate in certain parts of the settlement. This situation supports the assumption that immigrants stayed there. These immigrants may be seen in relation to bronze production in northern Kyūshū, as early moulds of bronzes had been found only at this kind of sites (Kitakyūshū shiritsu kōko hakubutsukan 1997: 17).

Map 2: Location of main Yayoi sites in Iki Island.

Interaction in the early Iron Age

Settlement activity at Karakami カラカミ site began during the late phase of Middle Yayoi, as is obvious from Sugu type pottery (Jap. Sugu-shiki doki 須玖式土器) finds, and it continued until the end of the Yayoi period. We have carried out excavations at this site during five seasons in recent years (MIYAMOTO 2008; see also OKSBJERG 2007). The site consists of a moated settlement less than 200 m in diameter. It is one of two Yayoi period moated settlements in Iki Island. Another larger moated settlement has been excavated at Harunotsuji, a site which was continuously inhabited from early Yayoi to the ancient period. Karakami site is located in the north-western part of Iki Island, a mountainous area. Harunotsuji, on the other hand, is located in the south-eastern part of the island, where plains suitable for rice cultivation exist. Accordingly, Harunotsuji site is supposed to be the centre of the south-eastern part of Yayoi period Iki Island while Karakami might have existed at the same time independently as a centre of the island’s north-western part.

A hill forms the central part of the Karakami site, nowadays the location of Karakami Shrine. The surrounding moat runs along the foot of the hill with a diameter of ca. 200 m in the north-south axis and ca. 100 m east-west. Yayoi period structures continue far beyond the moat. In 1952, the Society for the Archaeology of East Asia in Japan (Jap. Tō-A kōkogakkai 東亜考古学会) conducted an excavation at Karakami site. Two areas were examined. Excavation area No. 1 was located outside the moat on a gentle slope of the Karakami Shrine hill. Excavation area No. 2 was located on the eastern slope of the hill near the moat. This area yielded some pottery from Korea, while the excavation area No. 1 produced only a few fragments (MIYAMOTO 2008b:8-10; TAKESUE 1991:331-332; OKSBJERG 2007:11-13). One example is a small pot (Jap. kogata tsubo 小型壼) fired by high temperature (Fig. 2). Considering typology, the small pot probably came from the Chinese Lelang commandery 樂浪[郡], which was located in the Pyeongyang 平壤 area of northern Korea (TANI and SAIKI 2008:75). After comparing the specimen with other Lelang pottery, I came to believe that this piece dates from the first century BCE. It is contemporary with the Sugu II pottery type, which chronologically belongs to the end of the Middle Yayoi period.

A piece of gray pottery (Fig. 2) also seems to come from the south of the Korean Peninsula. This type is called samhan pottery (Kor. samhan togi 三韓土器) in Korea. According to BAK Sun-bal’s 朴淳發 chronology (BAK 2004:59-72) it dates from the latter half of the first century CE. The origin of a red pot (Jap. tsubo 壼) is difficult to identify (Fig. 2). There is no similar example from a Yayoi context. Petrology analysis indicates parallels to Korean pottery instead, so this specimen might also have come from Korea in the Late Yayoi period (TANI and SAIKI 2008:75; MIYAMOTO 2008c:93; KANEGAE and MITSUJI 2008: 101-110).

Fig. 2: Lelang and samhan pottery.


Besides Korean pottery, much Itoshima style pottery (Jap. Itoshima-shiki doki 糸島式土器) has been found, coming from the Itoshima area, a peninsula lying north-west of Fukuoka City 福岡[市], as well as pottery in a style typical for the eastern part of the Onga River 遠賀[川] basin in Fukuoka Prefecture. This means that the Karakami excavations produced a lot of pottery from outside of Iki Island. Interaction of the Karakami people therefore was not only going on with the Korean Peninsula but also with northern Kyūshū. This situation is also seen at Harunotsuji site. Both settlements were important locations with regard to the interaction between Korea and northern Kyūshū.

The results of flotation carried out during our excavation at Karakami site indicated the existence of many wheat grains and a few rice grains (see TAKAMIYA 2008:114-119). The phytoliths analysis of dwelling pit No. 1 also indicated there was much rice and wheat. Regular food of the Karakami inhabitants therefore must have consisted of cereals such as wheat and rice. However, we have found many pecking stones (Jap. tatakiishi 敲石) used for the grinding of nuts (see KAMIJŌ, SHIRAISHI and MORI 2008:84). These stone tools are characteristic finds of the Jōmon period, and only very few finds come from Yayoi period sites. The problem why so many pecking stones appeared at Karakami site therefore is unsolved. We may need to consider an additional function for these stone tools.

Quite a lot bone tools, used for collecting ear shells (abalone), have been found at Karakami and Harunotsuji sites. Such tools are also known from Neuk-do 勒島 site, located on a small island at the coast of southern Korea. Neuk-do is supposed to have been a key settlement for the interaction between Korea and Japan. The site yielded a small amount Lelang pottery and a lot of Yayoi pottery or modified Yayoi pottery. The shell midden at Karakami site produced many fish bones, so part of the subsistence activity of the inhabitants depended on fishing. The people of Karakami site are believed to have been fishermen, navigating their boats to the Korean Peninsula or to northern Kyūshū.

Several iron tools and iron materials have been unearthed at Karakami site (see KAMIJŌ, SHIRAISHI and MORI 2008:90-92). An interesting Korean site in this context is the Gian-ri 旗安里 site in Gyeonggi Province 京畿[道], an iron tool production site of the early Iron Age. At this site a hammer for making iron tools was found, which looks very similar to the pecking stones of Karakami site. The many pecking stones from Yayoi period Karakami and Harunotsuji sites anyway raise questions, as there are almost no such finds in other Yayoi sites of northern Kyūshū. In addition, we have found a lot of wheat and rice grains but very few nuts, such as acorn. The number of pecking stones clearly is not related to the collecting of nuts. Therefore I came to believe that the pecking stones of Karakami site were used as hammers to make iron tools, just as it was the case at Gian-ri site in Korea. Even in northern Kyūshū there are a few examples of pecking stones in use as hammers for iron tool production, such as at Yasutake-fukada 安武・深田 site (Fukuoka Prefecture 福岡[県]), dating from the latter half of the Yayoi period. It therefore is supposed that also at Karakami site iron tools were produced with the help of pecking stones after iron materials had been imported from the Korean Peninsula. In Karakami site we have also found many whetstones (Jap. toishi 砥石) for the polishing of iron tools. This means that the Karakami site was a likely trading centre for iron tools and possibly for cereals, such as wheat and rice, and connected a trading centre for iron tools and cereals, such as wheat and rice, connecting the two areas of southern Korea and northern Kyūshū.

Conclusion

Karakami site is a very unique site dating from the end of the Middle Yayoi period (1st century BCE) to the end of the Late Yayoi and the beginning of the Kofun 古墳 period (3rd century CE). Much of the pottery unearthed at Karakami was made in, or influenced from, other areas, such as Lelang, the three Han (Kor. samhan 三韓), Itoshima, or the eastern part of the Onga River area. Therefore we suggest that Karakami was a prominent place of interaction between Korea and northern Kyūshū. In addition, it is possible that Karakami inhabitants manufactured iron tools, or remade iron materials imported from the Korean Peninsula, for export to northern Kyūshū or areas further away on the Japanese archipelago. Karakami apparently was an intermediate trading center for iron materials or tools as well as cereals such as wheat and rice, and it seems likely that the fishermen of Karakami conducted the intermediate trading. Possibly historically significant is the fact that the beginning of this site coincides with the establishment of Lelang. Moreover, it is important to note that the dating of the Karakami site is relatively later than the Neuk-do site in Korea, which also was a trading centre and yielded a lot of Sugu type pottery (Fig. 3). After Lelang was established and the Neuk-do settlement had vanished, the intermediate trading between the Korean Peninsula and northern Kyūshū started to be carried out through Karakami site. Karakami, as well as Harunotsuji, played an important role regarding the north- and southbound trading that connected northern Kyūshū with samhan period Korea. This is an important phase within the progress of interaction, even before direct trading started between Hakata and Busan in the first half of the Kofun period. After state formation processes the interaction between the two areas was administered officially through the executive bodies of the ancient countries.

Fig. 3: Chronology of Yayoi pottery types.

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