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Japan’s oldest human skeleton found in Okinawan cave

A partial human skeleton, thought to be the country's oldest dating from around 27,000 years ago, has been found in a collapsed cave in Okinawa, southern Japan, a local museum said Friday.

Japan’s oldest human skeleton found in Okinawan cave
A human skeleton believed to be about 27,000 years old is displayed at a cultural facility 
in the town of Nishihara in Okinawa on Friday [Credit: KYODO]
The almost complete skeleton, dating from the Old Stone Age, appears to have been intentionally placed in the cave, providing evidence for the first time of a funerary rite during that period, according to the Okinawa Prefecture Archaeological Center.

Previously, the oldest human bones discovered in Japan, dating from around 22,000 years ago, were found in the southern part of Okinawa's main island.

Japan’s oldest human skeleton found in Okinawan cave
The partial skeleton found in Shirahosaonetabaru cave on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture
 [Credit: Okinawa Prefecture Archaeological Center]
The partial skeleton was discovered at Shirahosaonetabaru cave on Ishigaki Island, southwest of the Okinawa capital Naha, during research at the site lasting from 2010 to 2016.

"This is an important discovery which could mark a new chapter in the human history of Japan," Kamenobu Kinjo, head of the center, said at a press conference.

The center said it appears bodies were not buried at the time as the partial skeleton was found on the ground face up.

More than 1,000 human fragments from at least 19 individuals have been unearthed at the site.

Source: The Mainichi [May 20, 2017]

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