The call for participants for the What’s Up, Archaeology blog was a beacon in the middle of a surprisingly dark start to the new year. Only a few days prior to encountering the tweet, I had been told that several North American colleagues felt there would no interest in my work for college-level classes. It wasn’t the quality of my work or the theory that put the metaphorical nail in the coffin of a project I had been working on for some time. It was the region. You see, for over a decade, I’ve conducted research, collaborated with specialists and communities, and excavated in Japan. While both popular and traditional Japanese culture have become fashionable in the West, the archaeology and prehistoric heritage of Japan is marginalized in both public and professional spheres. So, my aim is to create an accessible digital resource on Japanese archaeology within this project, while also creating a space to discuss my work.
A lack of resources is, in part, what ignited my interest in Japanese archaeology. After college I lived in Nara prefecture, a region with the highest concentration of UNESCO World Heritage listings including the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara. Visits to sites throughout the (pre)historic landscape and the start of a collection of English resources assisted in addressing my ignorance. Since my time in Nara, I’ve met many Japanese and Western colleagues working in the field and contributing to a growing list of books, articles, and blogs in English. Moreover, I’ve had the opportunity to engage others and foster an interest in Japanese archaeology. But there is more work to be done!
Over the next few months, I will be posting every Monday and Friday on topics ranging from the basics of Japanese prehistory, to the practice of archaeology in Japan, as well as a few errant discussions of projects relating to archaeology, outreach, and the public. This blog coincides with an upcoming trip to Japan, so I will to be able to introduce some of my colleagues and the work they do through a series of interviews. If possible, I’ll also explore various institutions, exhibitions, and sites related to Japanese archaeology and heritage. Ultimately, I would be glad to expand on a topic upon request rather than keep to a strict schedule. I welcome discussion, feedback, and questions in the comment section below.
To that end, I’d like to say how excited I am to be a part of this project. More and more archaeologists are using social media platforms to create digital resources and engage others. By reading these posts, commenting, and sharing content, you are involved in the practice of digital archaeology. Many of the recent posts have involved getting to know the content creators, and I encourage you to introduce yourselves over the next few months as creators in your own right. Thank you for helping us foster an online community and develop an ongoing dialogue concerning archaeology and heritage.