The 137th RIHN seminar

Date: January 6th, 2017 (Friday) 15:00 - 17:00
Place: Lecture Hall, RIHN( → Access)
Lecturer: Professor Simon Charles Kaner (Visiting Research Fellow)
Title: Metastability, communication and change: observations from the Shinano-Chikuma River
Contact: TAKEHARA Mari E-mail


The Shinano-Chikuma River Project is investigating long-term change along the longest river drainage in Japan, with a particular focus on the Jomon period and the ways in which archaeological heritage is perceived in the region in contemporary times. Jomon archaeology is renowned for its sophisticated and detailed chronologies, based on pottery typology and supported by absolute dating methods. In this presentation I will reconsider the notion of ‘change’ and explore the concept of metastability, which suggests that rather than moving from one fixed state of ’stage’ to another, we need to consider how the world is in fact in a constant state of flux, and we can see this in terms of information and communication. I will illustrate this with two case studies from the region: the period of the emergence and disappearance of Flame pots in the Middle Jomon period, and the aftermath of the Chuetsu earthquake of 2004. I will also argue that an explicitly comparative approach is essential to maximising the significance of our archaeological observations, and introduce a new project we are undertaking at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures on global perspectives on regional heritage and the impact this may have on creating sustainable communities in rural areas.