The Japan Times, February 10, 1999
Dogs suspected as Jomon-era pets
OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) Human footprints and dog paw prints found in ruins of Jomon-period pit houses in Shiga Prefecture suggest the ancestors of today's Japanese raised dogs as pets inside their homes even as early as 3,000 years ago, city officials said Tuesday.
The prints, numbering 115 in total, were found recently in the ruins of an old settlement consisting of 10 houses in the Fukumanji excavation site in Nagahama, officials of the municipal educational board said.
The prints date from the late Jomon period (circa 1,000 B.C.) and represent the first paw prints of dogs from the period and the first samples of human footprints found inside ruins of dwellings.
The find, the officials said, could provide a glimpse of daily life - such as the raising of dogs - during the Jomon period, a preagricultural phase in history lasting some 8,000 years and known for its semisedentary living and shamanistic practices.
Seven dog paw prints, measuring from 4.3 to 5.7 cm long and 3 to 5 cm wide, and 108 human prints, measuring from 10 to 20 cm long and 8 to 17 cm wide, were found in eight dwellings. Of the total, 58 human footprints and all the dog paw prints were found in just one house.
Experts asked by the board to partially examine the find concluded the footprints were made by two boys and one girl, possibly siblings, aged 1 to 3, while the paw prints were made by two medium-size dogs.
Takehiro Nishihara, the board's chief technician, said they intend to have all the prints examined to determine the gender and family composition of the human inhabitants.