Most settlements in the middle Jomon period in the Kanto region tend to be located on upland plateau with few plant remains except for carbonized ones. This study tried to reveal what kinds of plants were used in that period at an upland Shitanoya site, Tokyo, by analyzing seed impressions on pottery and charred seed and wood remains. The analysis revealed Juglans mandshurica from seed remains, Castanea crenata from wood remains, and Glycine and Perilla frutescens from seed impressions. Seed impressions allowed to detect taxa that could not be found in charred plant remains and revealed another aspect of plant use at an upland site. At the Shitanoya site that is considered to last for about 1000 years, two groups were recognized in the impressions of Glycine seeds from their size. The smaller ones appeared when the site came to be used and seem to have been used almost through the middle Jomon period. The bigger ones appeared in the latter phase of the middle Jomon when the site began to expand and the population at this site increased. This study showed a possible relationship between the prosperity of settlements and the appearance of large Glycine seeds.
The ginkgo tree, Ginkgo biloba Linn., is the only living representative of the Ginkgoales, a gymnosperm known as “living fossil”, and is now widely cultivated all over the world. In China, cultivation of ginkgo trees may have been done from the historical era or before, but it is not known at all when and where it started. The Tian Luo Shan site is a Neolithic archaeological ruin at Yuyao, Zhejiang Province with numerous archaeological relics. While examining the tree species of wooden remains excavated from the ruin, we found a fragment of a cylindrical wood instrument made of ginkgo. This is the first discovery of ginkgo remnants of the Neolithic age in the world, and we described this specimen anatomically and examined the possibility that ginkgo was growing around the ruin.
A cloth bag of the early modern Edo period (the latter half of the 18th century) was excavated from the road remains of the Minamimotomachi site, Shinjuku, Tokyo. This bag contained stems and leaves of plants. The material of the cloth bag was anatomically identified as fibers of the hemp (Cannabis sativa L.). From the plant morphological and anatomical studies, the contents of the bag were identified as stems and leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze). These results agree well with the description in the historical literature that, during the Edo period, commoners drank tea by boiling tea leaves in hemp bags in a pot.