Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Jomon People in a Neolithic World

The Jomon People in a Neolithic World

• Standards from PDE
• 8.1.9.A: Compare patterns of continuity and change over time, applying context of events
• 8.4.9.A: Compare the role groups and individuals played in the social, political, cultural, and economic development throughout world history
• 8.4.9.B: Contrast the importance of historical documents, artifacts, and sites which are critical to world history
• 8.4.9.C: Analyze how continuity and change have impacted world history
o Belief systems and religions
o Commerce and industry
o Technology
o Politics and government
o Physical and human geography
o Social Organization

• Students will use teacher provided and online resources to compare and contrast Jomon people with other Neolithic Peoples.
• Students should be able to identify common characteristics between various Neolithic peoples.
• Students should be able to identify regional characteristics that are specific to Neolithic peoples.

• Hook:
o Review with students from the previous lesson about characteristics of the Paleolithic Era. Ask the students to identify ways that Paleolithic people could progress and improve – lead them in to identifying characteristics of the Neolithic people.
• Activity:
o Students will explore the characteristics of Neolithic people. Students will be able to determine defining characteristics of Neolithic people.
o Using the links listed in the references and the attached PDF about the Jomon from a museum in Japan, students will complete a chart in which they compare general statements about Neolithic peoples and compare them to specific groups such as the Jomon and Yangshao of China.
• Closure:
o Students will answer three concluding questions after completing their research. Students will identify similarities between the Jomon and other Neolithic peoples and the differences between the Jomon and other Neolithic peoples. Students will also decide if they would have preferred to live in the Paleolithic or Neolithic Eras.

• For a lower level class, teachers may choose to have students work in small groups or pairs, or conduct the activity as a jigsaw activity.
• For a higher level class, teachers may choose to have your students choose an additional Neolithic Civilization to add to their compare/contrast chart.

• Pretend Archaeological Dig Site:
o With school permission, and with the assistance of your school’s maintenance department, dig a rectangular pit, 2-3 inches deep.
o Using yarn and sticks/stakes create a grid pattern – create enough squares for each student
o In each square, bury small objects such as buttons, broken pottery, marbles, etc.
o Provide students with a small shovel and sifter (plastic preferably) and a paper bag (lunch bag sized)
o Instruct students to dig in their assigned squares in use the sifter to sort out objects. Any objects found go into the bag.
o Once everyone is finished, students can then work to classify and identify their items.
o After cataloguing what was found in each location, organize students into groups. Ask them to think critically about what they have found. Help them to understand why it is important as an archaeologist to properly catalogue materials discovered.
o Provide them with images of actual historical artifacts found at dig sites. Images should be of items that are not easily identifiable and that students may not know what they are. Have the groups create guesses as to what the objects are and how they were used.
o Have students present their images and their educated guesses. Explain the actual usage of the item.
o Conclude with questioning students about the purpose and usefulness of archaeology to the study of history. What can archaeology provide us with as historians? How is archaeology like solving a puzzle? What role can physical objects play in our understanding of history? What can archaeology help us to learn about culture?
o Link to the Jomon: Many of the items we have from Jomon culture were found in trash pits. What can a culture or civilization’s trash teach us about their daily life?

• Paul Dickler, FPRI
• Frank Chance, UPENN
• Jomon Japan – Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku:
• Hakodate Jomon Culture Center:
• Travel China Guide:
• China Through a Lens:

  • Megan Zahuranec
  • Downingtown East High School
Related History Institute
Grade Level
  • Middle School: 8
  • High School: 9
Time Frame
  • 1-2 class periods

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