X-ray imaging of a beetle’s world in ancient earthenware



( Left) The place of the Yakushoden website where the pottery with pest (weevil) impressions was found is shown by the number 1. (Other numbers in the image show locations gone over …
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Credit: Teacher Hiroki Obata

Utilizing X-rays, Teacher Hiroki Obata of Kumamoto University, Japan has actually imaged 28 impressions of maize weevils on pottery fragments from the late Jomon duration (around 3,600 years ago) excavated from the Yakushoden website in Miyazaki Prefecture. This is the very first example of pottery with numerous weevil impressions found in Kyushu, and the density of impressions is the greatest ever discovered in Japan.

Impressions of seeds and pests might be discovered on the surface area and inside ancient earthenware. Prof. Obata started identifying impressions utilizing the “impression approach” in 2003 due to the fact that it is especially beneficial for picturing imprints that can not be seen by the naked eye. Utilizing this approach, his research study group found the impression of a 10,000-year-old maize weevil on earthenware from Tanegashima Island in 2010. Prior to that discovery, it was believed that maize weevils pertained to Japan from the Korean peninsula with deliveries of rice, however his finding revealed that they existed long prior to rice began being given the Japanese island chain.

Prof. Obata’s group discovered maize weevil pottery impressions at the Sannai-Maruyama website in Aomori Prefecture in 2012 and at the Tateyama website in Hokkaido in 2013. Numerous research studies have actually revealed that Jomon individuals brought chestnuts to Hokkaido and the Tohoku area, where chestnuts do not generally grow naturally. Prof. Obata’s group, nevertheless, revealed that Jomon individuals brought maize weevils with the chestnuts to these locations, therefore verifying the theory of anthropogenic spread of the food bug.

At the Yakushoden website in Miyazaki Prefecture, maize weevils and acorn peels were discovered in pottery fragments. This supplies indirect proof of the relationship in between the storage of difficult fruits and the insects that assaulted them, and likewise shows that the Jomon individuals were surrounded by a higher number of weevils than was formerly thought of.

” The reality that food insects such as weevils existed even in the Jomon duration, which their spread was because of inactive way of lives and the transport and trade of food resembles what takes place in modern-day society,” stated Teacher Obata. “Modern upsurges and catastrophes spread out not just through natural forces, however likewise by the event of individuals and the motion of items. Therefore, there are lessons to be gained from pottery from countless years earlier.”


This research study was published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports on 9 October 2020.

Source: .

Obata, H., & Miyaura, M., & Nakano, K. (2020 ). Jomon pottery and maize weevils, Sitophilus zeamais, in Japan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 34, 102599. doi:10.1016/ j.jasrep.2020.102599 .

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