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Stone-age knife found in Ginama, Kunigami Village

Date Posted: 2003-01-31

The first Paleolithic age stone tool ever discovered in Okinawa was unveiled at a symposium in Naha City earlier this week. The presentation was made by Ryukyu University Professor Masaaki Kimura.

The tool, believed to date back at least 15,000~20,000 years, is most likely a knife that stone-age people used for cutting edible vegetables. Although fossilized human bone fragments have been discovered in Okinawa before, proving that the island has been inhabited tens of thousands of years, the discovery of the tool is important because it gives clues regarding the state of civilization of those early dwellers.

Professor Kimura says he had found the tool only a week earlier, while examining a submerged cave at Ginama, Kunigami Village. “I found the stone tool near the entrance to the cave on dry land. What attracted my attention were its brown color and its cutting edge that was clearly human-made,” Kimura said. The tool is almost square in shape. It’s 10.5 cm long, 9.5 cm wide and 1.9 cm thick. It also has markings of a human-made handle on its side.

Kimura took the tool to a specialist in Tokyo for further identification. After examining Kimura’s find, Tokyo Board of Education specialist, Professor Shizuo Oda said that it is clear that the tool is man made. “It has been sharpened by grinding it on both sides resulting in a shape that is impossible to be made by nature. Only a human could have made it,” Oda says. “This stone knife is very similar in shape to those we have discovered at other sites from the same era. People used it to cut vegetables that they were farming during the Paleolithic time that started some 230,000 years ago and continued until about 10,000 years ago,” Oda concluded.

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