For my Ph.D., I will work towards a growing understanding of technological change by exploring the relationship between cultural contact and technology in the archaeological record of northern Japan. I will explore the relevance of models of social and individual technological learning in the context of stone technology sequences, and other forms of technology, using predictions drawn from these models to a suite of archaeological sites on Rebun Island, northwest of Hokkaido, Japan.
Rebun sits at the crossroads between the cultural traditions of Island Japan and those of continental Northeast Asia (including Sakhalin) on the other. These regions had distinct cultural/ethnic histories with periodic exchange of technological information and boundary movements across the Soya Strait that divides them. Approximately 43 archaeological sites are currently known on Rebun Island, dating from ca. 3,500 B.P. to recent centuries (broken into a series of traditions known as Late Jomon, Epi-Jomon, Okhotsk, Satsumon, and Ainu). Evidence for long-distance exchange exists at many of those sites in the form of non-local trade goods and raw materials. Extensive occupations by multiple culture groups and evidence for trade interactions make Rebun a prime setting for study of contact, trade, and information exchange between regions. For my dissertation research, I plan to compare technological assemblages from multiple sites on Rebun to develop and test hypotheses addressing the cause of technological variation and change in the island assemblages.