Tools may rewrite Paleolithic Japan

MATSUE, Shimane Pref. (Kyodo) A team of archaeologists and researchers said Tuesday that they have likely unearthed the oldest stone tools used in Japan — 20 artifacts dating back some 120,000 years — at the Sunabara remains in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture.

The basic assumption among researchers has been that the first human ancestors landed in Japan about 40,000 years ago. The new findings might pave the way for a review of mankind’s history in Japan and give impetus to research on the Paleolithic Period.

The excavation team, led by Doshisha University professor Kazuto Matsufuji, discovered stone tools measuring between 1.5 cm and 5.2 cm long at a depth of about 2 meters. They were found in soil sandwiched between layers from around 127,000 years ago and 110,000 years ago.

One of the implements has a sharp edge, a characteristic that Matsufuji said would make it a likely candidate for a thrusting object.

In August, Toshiro Naruse, a professor emeritus at Hyogo University of Teacher Education, discovered the first of the 20 stone tools on a slope.