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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews recent advances in the field of hunter-gatherer archaeology in Japan and Korea. It concentrates on issues that are key to understanding the importance of east Asian data in world hunter-gatherer archaeology and anthropology. Emphases are on issues that are relevant to recent discussion in the field of historical ecology, including long-term sustainability, collapses and subsequent recoveries of human socio-economic systems, human impacts on the biosphere, and the examination of processes operating on temporal scales of varying duration. The article first presents the chronological framework and regional/temporal variability of two post-Pleistocene hunter-gatherer cultures—Jomon and Chulmun. It then reviews new data on post-Pleistocene socio-economic transformations of these hunter-gatherers in relation to changing environmental conditions. Cases presented here indicate that overspecialization among hunter-gatherers can contribute to a rapid decline or a seeming ‘collapse’ in their socio-economic systems, followed by a shift to a new subsistence strategy among reduced populations.

Keywords: Jomon, Chulmun, east Asia, long-term sustainability, socio-economic systems, subsistence strategy

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