This study explores the use of stone tools and plants at the Mizusako site in Kagoshima, by analysing starch residues found on the incipient and earliest Jomon stone tools. From the 13 sampled stone tools, a total of 240 starch granules were extracted. A comparison of the quantitative occurrence of starch residues on working and non-working surfaces revealed that working surfaces of stone tools yielded more starch granules. This implies that they may have been used for processing plants. No starch granules on the working surfaces, however, suggest that these stone tools were not used for plant processing, but for other purposes such as stone tool making, or that starch granules were not preserved originally. The co-occurrence of circular, pentagonal and hexagonal starch granules on individual tools suggests that more than two plant species were processed within the working life of individual grinding stones. Initial visual comparisons of ancient starch samples and modern reference samples suggested the possible presence of 16 genera and 31 identi!able species. The candidates for ancient presence at the Mizusako site include Castanea crenata, Quercus, Juglans ailanthifolia, Pteridium aquilinum, and Pueraria lobata. These candidates were indicated by the size and geometric form of starch granules.
Urushi is the lacquer produced by Toxicodendron vernici!uum. In Japan, Urushi products is known since ca. 9000 years ago from a remain at the Kakinoshima B site and became common since the early Jomon period. Archaeological woods of T. vernici!uum, however, had not been reported until ca. 10 years ago, when identi!cation of its woods from those of close allies was made possible. Since then, re-identi!caiton of excavated woods revealed that T. vernici!uum was commonly grown around settelments since the early Jomon period, but also indicated the existence of a sample of the incipient Jomon period from the Torihama Shell Midden site, Fukui Prefecture, which is too old to be considered as an introduction from the Asian continent to Japan. Here, we measured the radiocarbon age of this sample as 10,615 ± 30 14C BP (12,600 cal BP) in the incipient Jomon period, 3600 years before the oldest remain at the Kakinoshima B site. Most botanists consider that T. vernici!uum is not native and introduced to Japan by ancient people. Thus, the presence of T. vernici!uum wood in the incipient Jomon period seems to mean that Urushi was introduced from the Asian continent already in that period.