Oldest bones discovered

A set of the oldest bones ever found in this island prefecture were recently discovered in Tamagusuku.

Okinawa Prefecture Museum and Art Museum has announced that stone works and animal bones that were found together with human bones dating back to about 12 thousand years ago, were discovered in the old stratum, the Old Stone Age, at Sakitari cave site in Tamagusuku, Nanjo City. According to the museum, it is first time in Japan that the Old Stone Age human bones and stone works are found from same site, and it is the oldest example.

It is a discovery filling in about 10 thousand years of blank space between The Minatogawa human period, from which no human bones have ever been found. The Minatogawa remains are dated for about 18 thousand years ago, and The Jomon period was about 6 ~ 7 thousand years ago. A manager at the museum, Masaharu Yamazaki, says “This discovery gives a hint of a culture of the Old Stone-age human beings on Okinawa with information on their tools and foods, and it will be an important witness to fill the blank.”

The objects found from about two-meter-thick soil stratum under stalactite stratum are a puppy tooth, three quartz stone works, two shells from the ocean and a wild boar’s bone that is seen like a food particle. These were distributed within the range of five by three meters. One of the stone works looks like a wedge-shaped stone tool and had a process marks on it. Yamazaki says it’s hard to consider that the stone works got mixed naturally because quartz does not exists in south of Okinawa.

The discovery is the first in Okinawa Prefecture of stone works made of quartz.

In the remains, the older stratum is preserved, so the museum is continuing the excavation and research. The site is a cave in a tourism facility, called “Gangara Valley” about 1.5 km from the Yuhi River. Minatogawa Fisher Remains is a place where Minatogawa human bones were found, and the museum has been excavating at the site since 2009.