Japanese archaeologists found 39 pieces of shell tools, accessories and human bones in the Sakitari Cave in Nanjo City, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum announced last week.
After researchers used carbon dating of charcoal from the same formation, they stated that the 39 items are about 20,000 to 23,000 years old, making them from the Upper Paleolithic age.
It is the first time when Japan finds remains that are that old.
It is possible that the Minatogawa people, the prehistoric people of Okinawa who lived about 18,000 years ago, used the tools, according to the media.
“The findings are important to clarify Paleolithic culture. This is a rare find anywhere in the world,” said a representative of the museum.
More than half of the items consisted of bivalve shells, which might have been used to cut and scrape things, researchers said, as they discovered tiny wounds caused by their use. The scientists think the shells have probably been used for cutting cooking ingredients and manufacturing.
As for human parts, they found a tooth and a foot bone.
Although the tools made of stone and bone in Paleolithic Age were not new experts, this is the first time that researchers have found the shell tools in this age. The findings will help clarify the culture of the Minatogawa people,” said Shinji Yamasaki, a curator with the museum.