The Colonization of the Southern Ryukyu islands, Japan

Author(s): Hiroto Takamiya

Year: 2017


The Ryukyu islands are located in the western Pacific between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan, stretching approximately 1200 km. The focus of this presentation is the Southern Ryukyus islands, which consist of the Miyako and Yaeyama archipelagos. Until recently, the Miyako Island was the only island in this region which yielded fossil human remains dating to the late Pleistocene. Recently, human fossil remains dating to the same period has been unearthed from the Yaeyama islands. During this period, these islands were not connected to the mainland of Taiwan or China, indicating they crossed water gaps at this stage. This presentation first introduces these late Pleistocene data, and then examines the Holocene colonization processes. While it has been not well understood, many scholars believe the first colonization to the area took place not from the north (from the Okinawa archipelago) but somewhere from the south such as Taiwan and/or Philippines. Furthermore, there seems to have been another colonization to the islands at the beginning of the Gusuku period. This time, the colonizers appear to have come from the north.

Cite this Record

The Colonization of the Southern Ryukyu islands, Japan. Hiroto Takamiya. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430649)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15764