Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Exploring the Jomon – Paleolithic Culture or Early Agricultural Society?

Exploring the Jomon – Paleolithic Culture or Early Agricultural Society?

AP World Thematic Learning Objective: Theme 1: Interactions Between Humans and Their Environment
AP World Thematic Learning Objective: Theme 2: Development and Interaction of Cultures
NCSS Standard 1: Culture: a.) Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address
similar human needs and concerns; d.) Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions
NCSS Standard 3: People, Places, and Environments: h.) Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions

Students will be able to identify the main characteristics of the Jomon culture, as well as determine whether the people of the Jomon Period primarily exhibited characteristics of a Paleolithic culture or an early agricultural society.

Students will be able to justify their classification of the Jomon cultural using evidence provided in class, and hypothesize about the extent to which the natural environment of ancient Japan might have affected the development of this culture.

Opening: Teacher will assign students to groups of five. Using a whiteboard, groups will brainstorm the similarities and differences between Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures. Teacher will review main ideas with the class and then show a few images of Jomon artifacts. Groups will discuss whether they would initially classify these as exhibiting more Paleolithic or Neolithic characteristics.
Class Activities: Teacher will introduce Jomon culture background information through brief Google Slides presentation. Each student within a group will receive one reading on the Jomon culture – technology, daily life, society, rituals and rites, and dwellings. Each student will take notes on chart with respect to their specific reading, identifying Paleolithic and Neolithic features of the Jomon culture. Students will then break into expert groups (with student who have the same reading) and double-check their answers. Students will then break into original groupings and share out findings for each reading. Using all of the evidence, students within each group will come to a consensus as to whether the Jomon culture should be classified as primarily Paleolithic or Neolithic. They will also hypothesize about the role that the natural environment had on determining the culture of their people.
Closing: Each group will report out on their findings and classification of the Jomon culture. Each student will examine a timeline of the Jomon Period compared to the rest of the world between 13,000 – 300 BCE, writing a short response to the following question: “How would you compare Jomon culture to the cultures around the world at the same time? Would you describe them as more or less advanced than contemporaneous cultures? Justify your reasoning using specific examples from the class activity and the timeline.”

Readings can be shortened for students who need simpler passages. More advanced students may go online to research the specific aspect of Jomon culture assigned to them (instead of receiving the readings).

Students can explore more about the Jomon pottery through examining additional websites and attempting to recreate a specific piece of pottery using molding clay or Play Doh. They will use some of the same methods and tools for this process (with the exception of actually hardening the pottery). Students can then reflect on the process of creating the pottery, describing methods used and the level of sophistication , specialization, and/or technology required to make these types of pottery.

FPRI Japan Tour – Frank Chance

Jomon Culture

  • Sarah Foels
  • Depew High School
Grade Level
  • High School: 9, 10
Time Frame
  • One class period - Unit I of AP World

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