Okinawa Prefecture preserves the Shiraho-Saonetabaru Cave on the site of New Ishigaki Airport

December 15, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa prefecture has decided to preserve the Shiraho Saonetabaru site where human bones 24000 years old were unearthed. The site will be conserved to enable further excavation and visits. This is the first site where plants and animals are preserved in their existing condition on the construction site for New Ishigaki Airport.

It was announced in a prefectural assembly select committee for the promotion of New Ishigaki Airport.

The site is located in the northwest area of the construction site. Human bones were discovered there in an excavation in 2005. Analysis of the bones indicated that the remains are from the Old Stone Age, therefore dating back more than 20000 years, and making them the oldest remaining in Japan. Furthermore, when it was re-examined in 2010 using protein analysis, the human bones were found to date back more than 24000 years.

Okinawa prefecture will preserve an area of 2500 square meters, including the cave mouth located in the middle of what is planned to be a pond. The prefecture will surround the site with a fence and construct a pathway to it by 2012. It will be possible to carry out excavation and to visit the site during the airport construction and after the opening of the airport.

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)

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