Japan's Paleolithic Period - Japanese Prehistory

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Japan's Paleolithic period is where it all started. Early Japanese history is traditionally divided into five main eras: the Paleolithic (c. 50,000 BC - c. 12,000 BC), Jomon (c.11 000 BC - 300 BC), Yayoi (300 BC - 300 AD), Kofun (300 AD - 552 AD) and Yamato (552 AD -710 AD).

Although the dating of these periods is complex and cultures, in any case, tend to overlap, it is clear that the beginning of Japan has undergone profound changes in each of these important periods.

The Japanese Paleolithic period is the period of human habitation in Japan dating from 50,000 BC to 12,000 BC It was the period that preceded the Jomon Period. However, the start date is debated, with 35,000 BC being the most accepted date.

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The first human bones were discovered in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. According to radiocarbon dating, fossils date back about 14,000 to 18,000 years ago.

The development of tools with polished stones, which appeared later in the Neolithic period for the rest of the world, makes this period in prehistoric Japan unique compared to other prehistoric periods.

Período paleolítico do japão - pré-história japonesa

The first inhabitants of the archipelago

The first humans to inhabit the archipelago would be hunters from the Stone Age of Northeast Asia. Traveling in small tribes and using stone-tipped weapons, they followed herds of wild animals across land bridges to Japan, formed during the Ice Age.

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While many believe they came before, these hunters are known to have arrived in Japan not before 35,000 BC Paleolithic artifacts include finely made blade tools, similar to those in Siberia and Eurasia.

Since no ceramics have yet been discovered, on the other hand, the Paleolithic Period in Japan is also referred to as the “pre-ceramic” (Sendoki) period. In this way, it helps to distinguish its inhabitants from those of the following ages.

Período paleolítico do japão - pré-história japonesa

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Events and tool development

A huge volcanic eruption in southern Japan, in Kyushu, between 24,000 and 22,000 years ago spread a distinct ash, the Aira-Tanzawa (AT) pyroclast, in most parts of the country, dating events in Japan as “before or after the AT ”. At the same time, the first stone tools began to be made.

From that moment on, the pebble became less important. Small, well-made tools, especially knife-shaped tools, became more important about 16,000 years ago.

The small quartz and obsidian tools that predominated between about 16,000 and 13,000 years ago, show a considerable similarity to tools of the same age in Northeast Asia and Europe. The tools of the sites on the island of Hokkaido are almost identical to those in the Far East and Siberia.

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