UNESCO listing of archaeological sites likely

A cluster of archaeological sites in northern Japan is expected to be added to UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List.

The group consists of 17 sites, dotted across the four prefectures of Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, and Akita.

Sannai Maruyama Site in Aomori City features pit dwellings and pillar-supported buildings.
Also among them is Oyu Stone Circles in Akita, where large and small stones are arranged in circles for ceremonial purposes.

Japanese government officials say those settlements were developed by people living on hunting, gathering and fishing.

They say the sites provide a glimpse of people's livelihood and spiritual culture in the Jomon period, which is said to have lasted for more than 10,000 years.

A UNESCO advisory body has recommended that the sites be listed, giving them the highest rating on its four-stage scale.

Their listing is expected to be officially completed at a UNESCO committee meeting in July.

Another set of sites, which include forests on remoter islands in southwestern Japan, has already been recommended for World Natural Heritage listing.

If both groups are listed as expected, it will leave Japan with 20 items of listed cultural heritage, as well as five of natural heritage.