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7 February 2004
Japanese Paleolithic sites questioned

In Japan, four of 19 sites said to have been inhabited by people in the early Stone Age could have been mistakenly identified, according to a report recently released by Okayama University Prof. Takashi Inada, chairman of the Japanese Paleolithic Research Association. Following closer scrutiny of sites after the discovery of fabrications of prehistoric stoneware, Inada's report is expected to spark debate on Paleolithic culture, which may lead to a reexamination of the hypothesis that Stone Age people inhabited the country.
     The sites in question are the ruins in Mizusako, Uwaba, Shiikiyama and the Kogure Higashiyama ruins. As the Uwaba site has been designated a historical site, the Izumi Board of Education said there was a need to reexamine the site at some stage. That site is round, 4.5 meters wide and 70 centimeters deep with several small depressions within and outside its perimeter. These are believed to be marks left behind by pillars. The area was said to have been built about 17,000 to 15,000 years ago.
     While the geological strata of the Jomon period (ca 10,000 BCE - ca 300 BCE) usually show that materials for homes in that age were placed horizontally in areas around a building's base, Inada found that the interior of this site was in disorder. This suggests the site was occupied at a later time. In an article of the latest issue of the magazine Kokogaku Kenkyu (archeology research), Inada said it was highly likely that the hole was built by people at a later period. Ten of the sites that were believed to be Paleolithic settlements, which were discovered in 1999 and 2000, could have been natural holes created by land subsidence, he added.
     The Ibusuki Board of Education said it regarded Inada's assertion as an opinion, but that it would search for new evidence to prove the site's validity as a real Paleolithic site.

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun (4 February 2004)

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