Evidence for the use of the bow-and-arrow technology by the first modern humans in the Japanese islands

Katsuhiro Sano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Manufacturing bow-and-arrow is an intricate procedure requiring multistage planning. Because of the high complexity of this innovation, the distribution of bow-and-arrow technology reflects a dispersal of human groups that possessed the technology rather than multiple independent origins. Although indirect evidence for bow-and-arrow technology prior to 60 ka has been recovered from Middle Stone Age levels at Sibudu Cave, South Africa, additional evidence from marine isotope stage (MIS) 4 and early MIS 3 in both Africa and Eurasia is absent. Because bow-and-arrow technology possessed significant advantages, it is crucial to determine whether the first modern humans to move out of Africa were equipped with this technology. The first modern human groups that migrated into the Japanese islands adapted to the forest-rich environment and produced edge-ground axes and small-sized trapezoids that are assumed to be transversely hafted arrowheads. The delivery modes of early Upper Palaeolithic trapezoids from the Tohoku region in Japan were examined on the basis of proxies from projectile experiments and morphometric analysis. The results of both macrofracture and morphometric analyses suggest that the early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP) trapezoids were definitely delivered mechanically and some were probably used as arrowheads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Bow-and-arrow technology
  • Early upper Palaeolithic
  • Japan
  • Mechanically delivered armatures
  • Trapezoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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