Connecting with Japanese Archaeologists

In spring 2020, the Anthropology Department was fortunate to receive a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to support an archaeology seminar on Stone Age Science – a series of lectures on the material culture of human prehistory. Three KSU archaeologists (Drs. Eren, Bebber, Spurlock) gave presentations on their research. Two additional, invited speakers were Dr. Seiji Kadowaki from Nagoya University, Japan, and Dr. David J. Meltzer, member of the National Academy of Sciences and professor at Southern Methodist University. Following the seminar, Drs. Eren, Bebber, and Kadowaki discussed areas where joint research could be developed – however, COVID dampened further serious conversations for three years.

This summer, Japan reopened. Dr. Anthony Tosi took the opportunity to visit colleagues at several Japanese universities and thank them for supporting previous collaborations with KSU and relay our enthusiasm to continue exploring areas of mutual interest. One researcher he visited was Dr. Kadowaki. Dr. Kadowaki took him on a tour of the archaeological collections at Nagoya University Museum, showing him Middle and Upper Paleolithic stone artifacts collected from field sites in Jordan and a broad collection of tools, arrowheads, and pottery from the Jomon peoples (14,000 – 300 BC) of ancient Japan. He mentioned that he was inspired by the KSU experimental archaeology laboratory and showed Dr. Tosi a room in the museum where he hoped to build a similar lab. He previously discussed this idea with Drs. Eren and Bebber with the intention that there would then be, at least, two such laboratories, which would allow for comparative studies. He looks forward to revisiting this idea with his KSU colleagues.

  • Seiji with pot
    Dr. Seiji Kadowaki holding ancient Jomon pottery.
  • Tosi with handaxe
    Dr. Anthony Tosi holding a 1 million-year-old handaxe from Jordan.

Dr. Kadowaki and Dr. Eren are also advocates for building bridges between American and Japanese archaeologists. They know, for example, that Dr. Tosi encourages U.S. graduate students to develop research connections in Japan via the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science’s (JSPS) Summer Award Program, a competitive fellowship program specifically for Master’s and PhD students. Recently, Dr. Eren conveyed to Dr. Tosi that a former KSU undergraduate named Nicholas Gala, who is currently in a Master’s Program at the University of Tulsa, would be interested to study microblade (stone) technology in Japan. Upon the recommendation of Dr. Kadowaki, they then reached out to an expert at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Dr. Masami Izuho, to inquire whether he would consider receiving Nicholas as an intern. Nicholas prepared a successful application for the JSPS Summer Award, and Dr. Izuho kindly welcomed him to his laboratory this June.

  • Dr. Izuho and Nicholas Gala
    Dr. Masami Izuho and Nicholas Gala.
  • Nicholas with microblade
    Nicholas holding an ancient microblade core.

Dr. Tosi made a brief trip to Tokyo this summer to meet Dr. Izuho and thank him for mentoring Nicholas. While visiting, he also met a collaborator of Dr. Izuho’s – a professor from the University of Missouri named Dr. Fumie Iizuka. After a tour of the archaeology laboratories and collections at Tokyo Metropolitan University, the three of them enjoyed dinner together at a nearby restaurant. Dr. Izuho and Dr. Iizuka described some of their current research projects and mentioned they would welcome future collaborations with interested KSU colleagues.

Dr. Tosi is sincerely grateful to Drs. Kadowaki, Izuho, and Iizuka for their kindness and their openness to working with Kent State students and faculty.

Our research partnerships with Japanese colleagues and institutions have been supported by grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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POSTED: Monday, July 31, 2023 09:06 PM
Updated: Friday, August 4, 2023 02:26 PM