Japan’s oldest shell tools discovered in Minatogawa

Archaeologists digging in Sakitari Cave in Minatogawa, Nanjo City, unearthed 39 sharp tools made of shells that have been determined to be the oldest tools ever discovered in Japan. The Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum announced the discovery on Feb. 15th.  Together with the shell tools, fragments of decorated vessels and human bones were found at the same site.

According to officials at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum, a charcoal analysis and radiometric dating, the items were determined to be 20,000 to 23,000 years old, dating back to the latter part of the Stone Age, and being by far the oldest man-made objects ever discovered in Japan.

Until now, the oldest findings have been about 10,000 years old, but these are the first dating back to the Stone Age. According to museum officials, “This discovery is remarkable, and is a great key to discovering more about the Stone Age in Japan. It’s even a rare discovery in the world wide context.”