This chapter describes the earliest archaeological findings of human groups—the Pleistocene fossils—from the Ryukyu Islands. These fossils range in date from 32,000 to 16,000 years ago. From 23,000 to 18,000 BP, at the height of the Wurm Glaciation, sea level was lower by about 140 m; consequently, a large land mass was available for habitation by people whose remains were found in Minatogawa and other sites. Late Pleistocene Homo sapiens had to cross water to reach the few large islands of the Ryukyus in the Late Pleistocene. Between the Late Pleistocene discoveries and subsequent Holocene archaeological sites there is a gap of about 8,000 to 9,000 years.
Keywords: Pleistocene fossils, Ryukyu Islands, Wurm Glaciation, Pleistocene Homo sapiens, Holocene archaeological sites