Obsidian Access and Territoriality at the Upper Paleolithic Shimaki Site, Hokkaido, Japan


Although Hokkaido Japan boasts a rich concentration of obsidian resources, studies focusing on its role within Paleolithic hunter-gatherer subsistence and territorial systems are in their infancy as high-quality geochemical analysis is just emerging. Combining XRF geochemical obsidian sourcing analysis coupled with qualitative and quantitative data on individual artifacts, we are able to conduct fine-grained exploration of tool stone procurement, consumption, and use of an entire artifact assemblage (tools and debitage) from the Last Glacial Maximum occupation (21,400 14C years ago) of the Shimaki site. We first compile XRF geochemical obsidian sourcing data on all artifacts to map the abundance of obsidian sources utilized at the site. Next, we correlate obsidian source and tool/debitage type to reveal underlying preference patterns based on specific raw material characteristics (e.g. size, shape). Consumption rates of tools are then compared to construct behavioral scenarios of how the obsidian resources were managed after procurement or exchange, as well as group mobility patterns in relation to subsistence resources. Finally, we speculate about the possible extent of and influence of geographic barriers on Shimaki hunter-gatherers’ foraging territory.

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Obsidian Access and Territoriality at the Upper Paleolithic Shimaki Site, Hokkaido, Japan. Karisa Terry, Masami Izuho, Noriyoshi Oda, Jefftery Ferguson, Ian Buvit. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398269)

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