Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (03): 392-403.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2018.0038

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An overview of studies on microblade technology in Hokkaido, Japan

YUE Jianping1,2,3,4(), WANG Han5, KATO Shinji6   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    2. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4. Key Laboratory of Economic Stratigraphy and Palaeogeography, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008
    5. Department of Archaeology of Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University, Sendai 9808576
    6. Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Nara 6308577
  • Received:2018-03-14 Revised:2018-06-14 Online:2020-08-15 Published:2020-08-31


Microblade technology represents an important technological innovation and adaptation in northeastern Asia and northwestern America during the Late Pleistocene. Hokkaido, located along the edge of far-eastern Eurasia, contains a rich microlithic sequence that began around 25 thousand years ago and lasted for about 12 thousand years. Based on qualitative technological analysis and refitting, several microlithic debitage methods and microblade core types have been identified in Hokkaido. The regional microlithic sequence is characterized by the continuity of wedge-shaped cores, along with periodic changes that appear to correspond with climatic and environmental shifts. This article provides an overview of the climatic and environmental background of Hokkaido during the Late Pleistocene, and the research history of microlithic technology in the region. On this basis, this paper highlights the nature and differences among microblade debitage methods in Hokkaido and clarifies the development of microlithic industry through time. This overview has implication for our understanding of microlithic technology and Late Pleistocene hunter-gatherer mobility and adaptation in the broader region of far-eastern Asia, including the neighboring area of China.

Key words: Microblade technology, Hokkaido, Upper Paleolithic, Debitage method

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