Population pressure and prehistoric violence in the Yayoi period of Japan

Tomomi Nakagawa, Kohei Tamura, Yuji Yamaguchi, Naoko Matsumoto, Takehiko Matsugi, Hisashi Nakao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The causes of prehistoric inter-group violence have been a subject of long-standing debate in archaeology, anthropology, and other disciplines. Although population pressure has been considered as a major factor, due to the lack of available prehistoric data, few studies have directly examined its effect so far. In the present study, we used data on skeletal remains from the middle Yayoi period of the Japanese archipelago, where archaeologists argued that an increase of inter-group violence in this period could be explained by a population-pressure hypothesis. We quantitatively examine the effect of population pressure on the frequency of inter-group violence by compiling an exhaustive data set. We collected demographic information based on burial jars (kamekan) and the frequency of violence based on the ratio of injured individuals. The results are consistent with the hypothesis, i.e., high population density can promote inter-group violence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105420
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Burial jar (kamekan)
  • Conflict
  • Japan
  • Warfare
  • Yayoi period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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