February 17, 2014

Oldest Okinawan Paleolithic evidence of human presence

A human tooth accompanying a hoard of modified shells shaped as tools have been found in the Sakitari-do cave (Nanjo, Okinawa). They are dated to c. 20-23,000 years ago. They seem to be the first known evidence of human presence in the East Asian archipelago.

The Sakitari-do cave is just 1.5 km away from where the Minatogawa human remains were found, which are however of a somewhat more recent date (c. 18-16 Ka ago). 

Minatogawa 1 (source)

Source: The Asahi Shimbun (via Pileta).


  1. The pics of shells are not very promising... I'll wait for an use-wear analysis of the shells. May be they are actually tools, but some extra criteria will probably help to asses it.

    1. I though the same but the presence of a human tooth (and foot bone, forgot to mention) seems to clarify the matter quite a bit, right?

      There are two more pics at The Asahi Shimbun article, one with the tooth and the foot bone.

  2. Yes, of course, but the shells can be food remains, not tools.

    1. I understand that methodical doubt is important in science but, without taking a look at the paper or the materials, I don't think that either of us can doubt their conclusions beyond a vague eyebrow rising. Notice also that two shell fragments appear to have been used as beads.


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