Terms Related to World Heritage Properties
- World Heritage Convention
Officially known as the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” this treaty was adopted at the UNESCO General Conference in 1972 and came into effect in 1975. Japan ratified it in 1992.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1946 to develop and advance education, science and culture. It is headquartered in Paris, France.
- World Heritage Committee
This committee is an intergovernmental panel established within UNESCO based on the World Heritage Convention to protect cultural and natural heritage sites of Outstanding Universal Value. It consists of 21 countries elected from the States Parties to the Convention. The term of office of Committee members is six years (but some States Parties choose to voluntarily limit their term to four years).
- UNESCO World Heritage Centre
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is the secretariat of the World Heritage Committee and is situated in Paris. The secretariat’s main tasks include the organization of the meetings of the General Assembly and the Committee; the receipt, checking the completeness and transmission to the relevant Advisory Bodies of nominations to the World Heritage List; the organization of periodic reporting on World Heritage properties; and making information available on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
- Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)
Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity (paragraph 49 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention).
- World Heritage List
The World Heritage List is a selected list of cultural and natural properties that the World Heritage Committee considers as having Outstanding Universal Value based on the criteria set by the Committee. Properties inscribed on this list are called the World Heritage properties.
- World Heritage Tentative Lists
A Tentative List is an inventory of properties situated on the territory of each State Party that the party considers suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List. Properties to be inscribed on the World Heritage List are selected from those on the Tentative Lists of States Parties. In Japan, cultural properties to be included in the Tentative List are discussed and selected by the Subdivision on World’s Cultural Heritage of the Council for Cultural Affairs.
Officially known as the “International Council on Monuments and Sites,” ICOMOS is a non-governmental international organization headquartered in Paris and dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and archaeological sites. It also serves as a UNESCO advisory panel on the conservation of monuments and sites. Based on the World Heritage Convention, it conducts on-site evaluation of cultural properties nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List and performs monitoring of inscribed properties to make recommendations on the results to the World Heritage Committee.
- Decisions of the World Heritage Committee
In light of the recommendations of advisory bodies (ICOMOS, IUCN), the World Heritage Committee reviews nominated properties and makes decisions to adopt any of the following options.
Official approval for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Although the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is justified, additional information on the preservation plans, etc. is required. The property will be reviewed again in subsequent years, based on additional submitted information.
The justification of Outstanding Universal Value is considered insufficient, requiring more in-depth assessment, a substantial change to the boundaries of the component parts, essential revisions, etc. An on-site evaluation mission will be re-conducted after a revised nomination dossier is submitted.
Not to be inscribed
The property is regarded as unsuitable for inscription on the World Heritage List. If this option is decided, the nomination cannot be presented to the committee again, in principle.
- Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention
These guidelines set forth the procedures for the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List, the protection and conservation of World Heritage properties, and other details.
A property is an area for inscription on the World Heritage List. The Outstanding Universal Value, integrity, and/or authenticity of the property must be conveyed.
- Buffer zone
A buffer zone is an area that is established around a property for the effective protection of the property and that has complementary legal and/or customary restrictions placed on its use and development in order to provide an added layer of protection. In Japan, landscape plans and ordinances stipulated by local governments are often used to protect buffer zones.
- Serial nomination
Serial nomination means the nomination of two or more properties for inscription on the World Heritage List as one property of Outstanding Universal Value through their connection as a group of properties that belong to the same history or culture.
- Nominated property
A nominated property is the overall property nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List. The official name of the nominated property is “Jomon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan.”
- Component parts
Component parts refer to the elements that comprise the overall property nominated for inscription. The Jomon Prehistoric Sites comprise a group of 17 component parts in Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures.
- Associated sites
Associated sites refer to those considered to help justify and promote Outstanding Universal Value despite not being component parts of the property. An integrated approach is taken to conserving associated sites and component parts.
- Preservation and management plans
These plans illustrate the way to conserve the Outstanding Universal Value of the nominated property so as to ensure its effective protection at present and in the future.
- Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA)
The Heritage Impact Assessment is a tool to identify and assess the potential impacts on a World Cultural Heritage property of a development project planned at the property or within and around its buffer zone.
- World Heritage in Danger
A World Heritage in Danger is any property on the World Heritage List that is threatened by serious and specific danger, such as an armed conflict, natural disaster or town planning, and that requires major operations for its conservation. Such properties are inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and those on that list are entitled to support from the World Heritage Fund. The World Heritage Committee reviews the state of conservation of those properties every year.
Interpretation refers to all the ways of effectively communicating the significance and meaning of a natural, cultural, or historic (heritage) site. In World Heritage parlance, interpretation is used to protect, conserve and promote Outstanding Universal Value of properties as well as to pass it on to future generations. The Jomon Prehistoric Sites are a serial nomination with most of the component parts buried underground; therefore, exhibitions, explanations, participatory programs, and the dissemination of information are of particular importance to promote a correct understanding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property as a whole and its relationship to each component part.
Terms Related to the Jomon Prehistoric Sites
- Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a piece of land where traces of people’s activities in the past can be found (immovable heritage). It consists of structural remains such as pit dwellings and graves, which are not portable, and artifacts (excavated items) such as pots and stone tools.
A place where people settled that consists of residential areas, burial areas, production areas, dumping grounds, and other features. Such areas provide information on civil engineering, architecture, livelihoods, burial customs, trade, and various other aspects of Jomon life.
- Hub settlement
Large in scale, such settlements long served as local hubs with various facilities. Large burial areas and artificial earthen mounds used for rituals and ceremonies were built. Among excavated items are a large amount of jade, obsidian, and other objects brought from elsewhere through trade and exchanges.
- Stone circle
A stone circle is a circular stone arrangement measuring 40 to 50 meters in diameter related to burial practices and rituals.
- Earthwork burial circle
This is a cemetery that dates from the Late Jomon period and is found in Hokkaido. It was built by digging a circular pit and piling the excavated soil around it. The largest such known cemetery measures 75 meters in diameter and 5.4 meters in height.
- Pit dwelling
This type of primitive building consists of a floor excavated beneath the surface of the ground and a roof supported by pillars. It was used as a house, workshop, or the like.
- Large pit dwelling
This term refers to pit dwellings that are at least 10 meters long. Many of them have more than one hearth.
- Pillar-supported building
This type of building is a structure with a raised floor supported by pillars dug into the earth or a floor at ground level (not including pit dwellings).
- Storage pit
This is a pit for food storage. It typically has a flask-shaped cross section. Nuts and other biofacts are sometimes unearthed at such sites.
- Pit grave
A pit grave is an oval or circular pit for the burial of the deceased. Burial areas were created in certain parts of settlements.
- Burial jar
This is a grave with an earthenware coffin mostly for infants. In and after the Late Jomon period jars for the re-burial of adults were also used in Aomori Prefecture and elsewhere.
- Low wetland site
This type of site is found in a layer containing large amounts of underground water. From such sites, seeds, animal and plant remains, wooden artifacts, bone and antler objects, and other remains are often unearthed with their organic parts intact because they were not exposed to air.
- Shell mound
This is a place where a particularly large number of shells were deposited. The species shed light on the natural environment at the time. Human bones, buried dog remains, and bone and antler objects are also unearthed in such places.
- Dumping ground
A dumping ground is where people discarded food residue, pots, stone tools, and other items. Most of such grounds were large in scale and are thought to have been used for rituals and ceremonies.
- Artificial earthen mound
This is where large amounts of pots, stone tools and other items were disposed of along with soil. Artificial earthen mounds are considered to have been related to rituals and ceremonies because many clay figurines and other items of ritual character have been unearthed there.
Monuments are the remains of giant structures built with great effort and time, such as stone circles, earthwork burial circles, and artificial earthen mounds.
- Fine ware
Fine ware refers to elaborately made decorative earthenware of various types, including deep bowls, shallow bowls, vases and spouted vessels, as well as pots carefully polished until smooth and shiny, and red-pigmented pots. In contrast, simple non-decorative pottery is called crude earthenware. Most excavated non-decorative pieces were deep bowls for daily cooking.
- Bone and antler object
These are tools made from animal bones, antlers, teeth or tusks, including fishing gear (e.g., hooks, harpoons), tools (e.g., needles, spatulas) and accessories (e.g., hairpins, decorative belts).
- Burial goods
These were buried in pit graves and included pots, stone tools and accessories.
- Dedicated item
Dedicated items are votive offerings presented at rituals involving prayers. They included pots and clay figurines.
- Goggle-eyed clay figurine
These are clay figurines with large eyes that resemble Inuit snow goggles. They are predominantly found at sites dating from the latter half of the Jomon period.
- Marine transgression and regression
A marine transgression is a phenomenon whereby climate change causes a sea-level rise or land subsidence and the coastline to shift landward. Conversely, a phenomenon in which submerged areas are exposed above the sea level is called a marine regression.
- Jomon transgression
In Japan, the large-scale post-glacial marine transgression is known as the Jomon transgression. It began c. 9,000 years ago (the latter half of the Initial Jomon period) and peaked c. 6,300 years ago (the Early Jomon period).
This term is generally used in reference to worship of the gods, but it also refers collectively to everyday acts of faith, such as the burial of the deceased and prayers for fertility and safe childbirth.
- Radiocarbon dating
This dating technique is based on the characteristic of carbon-14 (14C, a radioactive isotope) whose abundance ratio is constant in living organisms but decreases at a constant rate after their death.
- Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties
This law was enacted in 1950 to preserve and utilize cultural properties. Based on the law, the national government takes various measures to protect, preserve, and utilize cultural properties by designating, selecting, and registering important cultural properties as National Treasures, Important Cultural Properties, Historic Sites, Places of Scenic Beauty, or Natural Monuments and by imposing restrictions on activities that would alter their existing state. The government also provides subsidies for the public ownership of Historic Sites and the development of facilities for the presentation of cultural properties.
- Historic Site and Special Historic Site
- Of sites designated as archaeological sites, Places of Scenic Beauty, Monuments (including animals and plants), or the like under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, those of great historic or academic value for Japan are designated as Historic Sites, and of these, those with exceptional significance are designated as Special Historic Sites by the national government. As of February 2021, there are 63 Special Historic Sites. These include only four archaeological sites dating from the Jomon period: the Sannai Maruyama Site (Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture), the Oyu Stone Circles (Kazuno City, Akita Prefecture), the Togariishi Stone Age Site (Chino City, Nagano Prefecture) and the Kasori Shell Mound (Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture).
- Important Cultural Property and National Treasure
Of paintings, sculptures, archaeological materials, and other properties designated as Tangible Cultural Properties under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, those that are especially important are designated as Important Cultural Properties, and of these, those with exceptionally high cultural value are designated as National Treasures.
National Treasures in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku include a clay figurine with clasped hands (Kazahari Site No.1, Hachinohe City) and a hollow clay figurine (Chobonaino Site, Hakodate City), and Important Cultural Properties include a goggle-eyed clay figurine (Kamegaoka Burial Site, Tsugaru City) and a large, flat clay figurine (Sannai Maruyama Site, Aomori City).
These clay figurines can be viewed at Jomon Prehistoric Site visitor facilities.
Examples of visitor facilities:
– Clay figurine with clasped hands: Korekawa Archaeological Institution
– Hollow clay figurine: Hakodate Jomon Culture Center
– Goggle-eyed clay figurine: Tokyo National Museum, Tsugaru City Jomon Dwelling Museum (replica)
– Large, flat clay figurine: Sannai Maruyama Jomon Culture Center