Roughly 35,000 years ago, hunting-fishing-gathering people occupied the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, a chain of small-sized islands in the western Pacific. There are Paleolithic sites scattered over most of the relatively large islands, thereby suggesting an extensive human dispersal over the sea at least 30,000 years ago. Recent morphological and genetic studies of the human fossils found in this area revealed that Paleolithic occupants might have an affinity with the modern and prehistoric populations of Southeast Asia. Recent excavation of Paleolithic sediments at Sakitari Cave, Okinawa Island, provided a variety of shell artifacts, including beads, scrapers, and fishhooks, and evidence of seasonal consumption of aquatic animals, especially freshwater crabs. The Paleolithic Ryukyu Islanders’ culture and lifestyle, which made use of unique resources, demonstrate behavioral adaptations to living on relatively small islands.
Part of the book: Pleistocene Archaeology