|Alternative names||Mishihase (possible)|
|Geographical range||around the Sea of Okhotsk|
|Preceded by||Jomon culture|
|Followed by||Satsumon culture|
The Okhotsk culture is an archaeological coastal fishing and hunter-gatherer culture of the lands surrounding the Sea of Okhotsk (600–1000 in Hokkaido, until 1500 or 1600 in the Kuril Islands). The historical Okhotsk people were related to the Jōmon people, which are ancestral to the Ainu people. Modern Nivkh people and Itelmens among others, were found to have rather high Jōmon ancestry. It is suggested that the bear cult, a practice shared by the Ainu and the Nivkhs, was an important element of the Okhotsk culture and may have been common in Jomon period Japan as well.
A distinctive trait of the Okhotsk culture was its subsistence strategy, traditionally categorised as a specialised system of marine resource gathering. This is in accord with the geographic distribution of archeological sites in coastal regions and confirmed by studies of animal remains and tools, that pointed to intensive marine hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. Stable nitrogen isotope studies in human remains also point to a diet with rich protein intake derived from marine organisms. Collagen analysis of human bones revealed a relative contribution of marine protein in a range of 60 to 94% for individuals from Rebun Island and from 80 to 90% for individuals from eastern Hokkaido. However, there are enough evidences to suggest that the Okhotsk people's diet was much more diverse than isotopic data suggests. Their diet was probably complemented with terrestrial mammals, such as deer, foxes, rabbits, and martens. Cut marks in domesticated dog bones suggest they were also part of the diet, and remains of domestic pigs are limited to the north of Hokkaido. There is also evidence of the use of wild edible plants, including Aralia, Polygonum, Actinidia, Vitis, Sambucus, crowberry, Rubus sp., Phellodendron amurense, and Juglans. Little is known about the role of these plants in the economy or if they had dietary or ritual roles.
Kisao Ishizuki of the Sapporo University claimed that the people of the Okhotsk culture were recorded under the name Mishihase on the Japanese record Nihon Shoki, while others suggest that the term Mishihase described a different group.
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- Ohyi, Haruo (1975). "The Okhotsk Culture, a Maritime Culture of the Southern Okhotsk Sea Region". In Fitzhugh, William (ed.). Prehistoric Maritime Adaptations of the Circumpolar Zone. pp. 123–58. doi:10.1515/9783110880441.123. ISBN 978-3-11-088044-1.
- Sato, Takehiro; Amano, Tetsuya; Ono, Hiroko; Ishida, Hajime; Kodera, Haruto; Matsumura, Hirofumi; Yoneda, Minoru; Masuda, Ryuichi (2007). "Origins and genetic features of the Okhotsk people, revealed by ancient mitochondrial DNA analysis". Journal of Human Genetics. 52 (7): 618–27. doi:10.1007/s10038-007-0164-z. PMID 17568987.
- Okada, Atsuko (1998). "Maritime Adaptations in Hokkaido". Arctic Anthropology. 35 (1): 340–9. JSTOR 40316474.
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