In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific
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The thrilling account of an extraordinary journey
in the tradition of Kon-Tiki
In 1996 a 9,500-year-old skeleton was found beside the Columbia River, galvanizing anthropologists with the possibility that prehistoric humans reached North America from Asia by crossing the ocean in small open boats. In this compelling narrative, world-class kayaker and science writer Jon Turk relates his successful attempt to re-create this perilous migration. This story wraps an intriguing anthropological argument inside a gripping narrative about the sea, an ancient people, and the wilderness of northeast Siberia.
Recounting his two-year, 3,000-mile kayak voyage from Japan's bamboo forests to the tundra of Siberia and Alaska, Turk introduces strong archeological and anthropological evidence that his expedition was not the first. He explains how the ancient Jomon people could have completed this journey 10,000 to 15,000 years ago and provides insight into the question of why they did it. Both fascinating adventure and riveting prehistory, In the Wake of the Jomon is destined to become a classic.
resumed course—wet, cold, but now fully alert. B Y DINNERTIME the wind abated, the swell subsided, and the saturated colors of midday had slid into the soft pastels of evening. We were only two or three miles from Kunashir Island—close enough to discern individual trees in what had been a homogenous smear of green. Throaty trucks rumbled along a road that paralleled the beach. Franz paddled in close, threw me a line, and tied his boat to mine so we wouldn’t drift apart and lose sight of one
adventure yesterday. For most of the day the waves were small. We couldn’t see anything in the fog. Even if we did everything that the National Geographic guys told us to do, we couldn’t have photographed a current that was washing us out to sea or the nightfall that threatened to envelop us. The danger was real, but invisible and ephemeral. 70 I N T H E WA K E O F T H E J O M O N Franz and I built a cheery driftwood fire, cooked a hot meal, forgot the past, and looked into the future. I’m
Snow-covered Chirpoyev, a nearly circular volcanic island about three miles in diameter, stood out sharply in the distance against a clear blue sky and a mellow sea. The wind blew from the southwest, promising a downwind run. Franz and I looked at each other and grinned. Even as a worstcase scenario, if the wind held for only two hours, we would sail far enough toward the island that we could paddle the rest of the way if necessary. We prepared for sea and pushed our boats to the water’s edge,
valleys and beaches along this stretch of coast. Then I realized that I had stumbled into a basic geology lesson. Given time, rivers and even small creeks erode rock and carve valleys, but this landscape was very young: tectonic forces were lifting the land faster than the rivers were cutting downward. As a result, the rivers remained perched above the sea. Since leaving Japan I had been following the boundary between the Pacific Ocean Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Along this sinuous line, the
rapidly, because the glaciers would have stopped them. Dr. Goebel doesn’t speculate on any relationship between Jomon mariners and the Ushki people. The Jomon could have passed along this coast before the Ushki village was built or, alternatively, the settlers could have befriended the migrants—or fought with them. The Ushki houses were built over shallow, circular excavations, with an entry passage and a stone-encircled hearth. The walls and roofs rotted away eons ago, so there is no picture of