Morse`s left hand

In Japanese school, the lessons relating to the achievement of archaeology are scarecely given. The text book of Japanese history for high school consists of over four hundred pages.
Nevertheless, the part written of archaeology has less than ten pages. In the part, the only man whose name is recorded as the cotributor to archaeology is not a Japanese but and American. His name is Edward Sylvestor Morse(1838-1925).

It is no exaggeration to say that every student in high school or university knows the name of Morse, though he or she doesn`t know C.J.Tomunzen, G.O.A.Montelius, or V.G.Childe. The name of Morse is so popularized in Japan. Much more study books about Morse than 20 `30 books have been published. Though I don`t know how famous the name of Morse is in England, I think him one of the most important men Japanese archaeologists cannot ignore when they study the history of Japanese archaeology, whether they value him or not. Before explaining what course has led to give him such a high value as in Japan today, I want to describe his history.

He was born in 1838 at Portland, the port town in Maine, U.S.A as a furrier`s son. When Morse was sixteen, as his father was not able to look on him with indifference who had been dismissed from school at twice, he made his son, who was good at drawing, get a job as drawer. Yet, he couldn`t endure long service there, too, and put his heart into the shell collecting popular in those days, rather than into his job. But, his shell collecting was worth while putting his heart into. His shell collection came to be known to many fanciers and enthusiasts. This was the opportunity for Morse to pave the way for becoming a zoologist. Otherwise he would have met his end as the mere uneducated wanderer.
Since he came to Japan, still he had given full play to his collecting tendency. And he carried back Japanese ceramics and folk tools too innumerable to put in the Peabody Museum of Salem in America. Therefore, we understand that his collecting tendency was extraordinary. In 1859, when Morse was twenty-one, he became the student assistant of Prof.Louis Agassiz at the Museum of Campative Zoology in Harvard University, and started his study of flaws in earnest. Just in this year, Darwin`s The Origin of Species was published. Professor Agassiz, the devout Calvinist, had firmly protested against Darwinism by means of taking the instance off laws. But, unfortunatedly all of his student assistants took the attitude of supporting it, and left him one after another. Three yeas after, Morse himself parted from him, and started going his own way.

Morse got to earn his living by lectures while drawing illustrations because he was good at drawing. Morse was not only dexterous by nature, but an ambidexter. Though he had been naturally right-handed, when once he fell so ill as to be unable to use his right hand, he couldn`t help writting letters and drawing illustrations by his left hand. And after the recovery, he became the ambidexter able to use his left hand as freely as his right hand. As the result of putting it to a good use, in his lecture he could show the performance that he drew the illustrations of insects, birds, shellfishes, etc. on the blackboard skillfuly by either hand. Furthermore, his speach was so full of humor that it got to enjoy general popular, and the circumstances of the sensation for his popular lectures often appeared in the newspapers. In addition to the lectures, he went on the energetic activities of his study. He published ” Observations on the Terrestrial Pulmonifera of Maine”, the first monograph he wrote as a scholar. And he issued the first number of The American Naturalist with his partner who had assisted Professor Agassiz together with him. In the issues, ” The Land Snails of New England” appeared serially with his illustrations.

Morse became the research worker of the Peabody Academy of Science. It was the museum in which he took more part than any other museum, because he was the honorary curator of it in his last years. Since then, he had lectured in Bowdoin College and Harvard University besides the popular lectures. In this way, he placed on a firm basis as a scholar.
Thus, in America, Morse had devoted himself to the study of flaws under the influence of Darwinism. In 1877, when he was thirty-nine, he heard the news that a lot of flaws inhabited Japan, and he made about twenty days voyage to Japan. The Japan in those days had been set free from the feudal system of Edo period continued for about two hundred years, and had met the Meiji Restoration of the modern age. It was at the turning point that the world of Samurai was changed for that of the modern bourgeoisie, in which the Emperor was at the top grade. It was the time that Government got excited at promoting the modernization, which had been less advanced than in Europe and America because of the national isolation for a long period, and planned the change toward the modern nation by means of introducing technology and learning from Europe and America.

Morse with the lusty love of study stayed in Japan for two years which had been looked on as the barbarous and uncivilized country with some dred and curiosity in Europe and America. Consequently, he could contribute to Japanese learning so greatly that he was called ” E.S.Morse, the grand good friend of Japan”, “a crank on Japan”. Morse`s study fields were many-sided ; zoology \ evolutionism Mollusca flaws birds comparative anatomy, science\ astronomy meteorology the noise pollution, geography\ geology topography, prehistory \ dolmens, anthropology \ the research for China and Korea, ethnology, etc. Moreover, he had happened to have the dexterousness enough to draw illustrations. He was called a genius. As people had thought the inside of his brain different from that of an ordinary man`s, after his death, one laboratory applied for the offer of his brain to anatomize. Morse, who had been excellent in every fields owing to the lusty love of study, the dexterousness and the collecting tendency, was still in his element satisfactorily in Japan, and had the great influence on Japanese studies.

On arriving in Japan, he was appointed the professor of zoology in the faculty of science which had been just established in Tokyo University. He introduced Darwinism to Japan for the first time, and established the first marine laboratory in the East. Like this, he gave good results rapidly. And he wrote a lot of works on Japan. For example ; “Japan Day by Day”, “Catalogue of Japanese Pottery”, “Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings”, ” Dolmens in Japan”, etc. His interest extended over even other fields than zoology of his speciality.

Archaeology in Meiji period was not yet established as the regular study, as well as other studies. It was thought that stone arrowpoints had come down from Heaven, and shell mounds had been made by giants. As Prof. Louis Agassiz had adhered to the justice of the Bible, so the mythology in Kojiki and Nihon-shoki had been belived in Japan.
People believed without any doubt that history had begun with gods and goddesses. In those days, Japanese people had no idea that the existence of the Stone Age could be recognized scientifically.
Morse, who had joined in excavating the shell mounds in America, discovered the shell mounds on the next day when he had arrived in Japan. He thought it was ‘Kjoekken-moedding’, and started the excavation as soon as he found it. It is ‘the@Shell Mounds of OMORI’, the most famous shell mounds in Japan. In Japan, ‘the Shell Mounds of OMORI’ has been designated as the cradle of Japanese archaeology.

After the excavation had been finished, Morse published ” Shell Mounds of OMORI”, the first scientific report of the excavation in Japan, by Tokyo University. The contents were the following; ‘Pottery, Ornaments, Tablets, Implements of Horn and Bone, Implements of Stone, Remains of Animals, cannibalism, Flattened Tibia, A comparison between the Ancient and Modern Molluscan Fauna of Omori’,etc. In addition, he touched on topography, geography and circumstances, and the surveys of potteries, stone tools and implements of horn and bone drawn by his technique as illustrator appeared. In this report, he adopted the word of ‘the cord mark’, which later on became the origin of the word of Jomon period\ the devisional period of the Stone Age in Japan. Through the excavation of the Shell Mounds of Omori, Morse proved for the first time that the prehistoric once existed, too, in Japan, from the fact that the pottery with the cord marks at the Shell Mounds of Omori corresponded to what which had been found at the Florida Mounds in America. Morse excavated the Shell Mounds of Omori at spare moments of studying zoology, owing to his dexterousness.

Metaphorically speaking, the Shell Mounds of Omori, which had been excavated by Morse`s left hand and no more, resulted in changing the notion of Japanese history and Japanese archaeology on a large scale. But, in those days, it was obstinately believed that Japanese history had begun about 1000 years before. ThereforeMorse`s achievement could not be received immediately. Many scholars in Europe and America, who had made a study of Japan, criticized Morse. Morse tenaciously went on making the dispassionate, sometimes severe objections against those criticisms and abuses. Gathering all his knowledge together, Morse painstakingly verified that the shellfish digged up in the Shell Mounds of Omori was different from the existing species, and the pottery of the Shell Mounds of Omori was not the pottery in Japan of Edo-period but that of the Stone Age.
But, unfortunatedly, Japanese archaeologists had not yet made the groundwork of the positive studies, and so they could not value Morese`s studies rightly. Most of his Japanese disciples took their course to other fields, and the successor of archaeology never grew. It was only just in the 1930`s, after Morse`s death that Japanese archaeology began to grow really. Nowadays, the detailed chronology of pottery reaches to the international level. It is the firm fact today that the Shell Mounds of Omori excavated by Morse is the Shell Mounds from the Late Jomon period to the Last Jomonperiod. Thus, his studies have got to be revalued justly.

In Japan of today, yearly, thousands of sites are excavated, and thousands of reports are published. In university, hundreds of students study archaeology. Many people have already got to be interested in archaelogy has remarkably advanced. Nevertheless we cannot relate Japanese archaeology without Morse who took an active part in the dawn of Japanese archaeology. And, Morse left such a great trace in Japan that even other Japanese than archaeologists associate archaeology with the name of Morse and the Shell Mounds of Omori.
At the end, I wish to quote Morse`s words which he inscribed as the epitaph for his Japanese disciple.