This small vessel dates to Japan’s Yayoi period (400 BC–AD 300). It was during this period that agricultural economies based on intensive rice cultivation and bronze and iron metallurgy became widespread, and social stratification and political centralization increased. Like earlier Jomon pottery, Yayoi pottery was formed by hand, without the use of the potter’s wheel. Much Yayoi pottery was decorated with painted or combed designs, but this vessel is undecorated and its eroded surface reveals many small sand inclusions. Given its small size, it was likely a serving vessel, such as a drinking cup. The writing on the vessel notes that it was recovered by Mitsumasa Mori in the village of Masaoka-Muri in Ehime Prefecture, on Shikoku Island, in 1950. He gave the cup, along with another vessel in his possession, to University of Michigan anthropologist Richard Beardsley.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.