Explorers to voyage to Japan in primitive boat in hopes of unlocking an ancient mystery
In the next week or so, five adventurers will attempt to paddle a primitive hand-hewn canoe across 200 kilometers of ocean in hopes of revealing how humans originally populated East China Sea islands. The 40-hour trip, from Taiwan to Yonaguni, the westernmost of Japan’s Okinawa Islands, is the culmination of a 6-year effort to experimentally determine what kinds of craft Paleolithic peoples may have built and used, and how they navigated over long ocean voyages.
Archaeological sites show humans first arrived in Japan more than 30,000 years ago. They likely reached the main islands from northeast Asia via a land bridge from Siberia and by crossing the straits in watercraft from the Korean Peninsula.
But how Paleolithic humans settled the Ryukyus, the present-day Okinawa Islands that stretch 1200 kilometers from Taiwan to Japan’s Kyushu Island, “is really a big mystery,” says Yousuke Kaifu, an archaeologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo who dreamed up the expedition. Read more.