Advanced maritime adaptation in the western Pacific coastal region extends back to 35,000-30,000 years before present

Masaki Fujitaa, Shinji Yamasaki, Chiaki Katagiri, Itsuro Oshiro, Katsuhiro Sano, Taiji Kurozumi, Hiroshi Sugawara, Dai Kunikita, Hiroyuki Matsuzaki, Akihiro Kano, Tomoyo Okumura, Tomomi Sone, Hikaru Fujita, Satoshi Kobayashi, Toru Naruse, Megumi Kondo, Shuji Matsu'ura, Gen Suwa, Yousuke Kaifu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Maritime adaptation was one of the essential factors that enabled modern humans to disperse all over the world. However, geographic distribution of early maritime technology during the Late Pleistocene remains unclear. At this time, the Indonesian Archipelago and eastern New Guinea stand as the sole, well-recognized area for secure Pleistocene evidence of repeated ocean crossings and advanced fishing technology. The incomplete archeological records also make it difficult to know whether modern humans could sustain their life on a resource-poor, small oceanic island for extended periods with Paleolithic technology. We here report evidence from a limestone cave site on Okinawa Island, Japan, of successive occupation that extends back to 35,000-30,000 y ago. Well-stratified strata at the Sakitari Cave site yielded a rich assemblage of seashell artifacts, including formally shaped tools, beads, and the world's oldest fishhooks. These are accompanied by seasonally exploited food residue. The persistent occupation on this relatively small, geographically isolated island, as well as the appearance of Paleolithic sites on nearby islands by 30,000 y ago, suggest wider distribution of successful maritime adaptations than previously recognized, spanning the lower to midlatitude areas in the western Pacific coastal region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11184-11189
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number40
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 4
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Early modern humans
  • Homo sapiens
  • Late Paleolithic
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Maritime adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Fujitaa, M., Yamasaki, S., Katagiri, C., Oshiro, I., Sano, K., Kurozumi, T., Sugawara, H., Kunikita, D., Matsuzaki, H., Kano, A., Okumura, T., Sone, T., Fujita, H., Kobayashi, S., Naruse, T., Kondo, M., Matsu'ura, S., Suwa, G., & Kaifu, Y. (2016). Advanced maritime adaptation in the western Pacific coastal region extends back to 35,000-30,000 years before present. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(40), 11184-11189. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1607857113