The Archaeology of Ryukyu Islanders
This introductory chapter presents the archaeological studies on the prehistory and early history of the Ryukyu Islands. In the Holocene Period, colonizing populations from divergent directions inhabited the northern and central Ryukyus from about 9,000 years ago, and the southern Ryukyus from about 4,500 years ago. Whereas the southern islands remained in comparative isolation until the eleventh century AD, the northern and central islanders were in almost continuous contact with the Japanese main islands. With the sweeping changes of the East Asian Mediaeval Period beginning in the tenth and eleventh centuries AD, the islanders were affected by changes in Japan and China, particularly the development of navigation and commerce in the Chinese Song dynasty (AD 960 to 1279).
Keywords: archaeological studies, Ryukyu Islands, archaeological record, Holocene Period, Ryukyus, Song dynasty