The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Regional Variation in Mandibular Morphology in the Prehistoric Japanese Populations of the Jōmon and the Okhotsk


1Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2Anthropology Department/Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Eleven metric traits were compared among the mandibles of Jōmon and Okhotsk sites in order to analyze potential impacts on mandibular morphology due to regional dietary differences. The Middle Jōmon (5,000 - 3,000 BP) was marked by climate stability, population growth, cultural homogeneity, and an abundance of resources. Middle Jōmon sites were expected to share comparable robusticities across all regions based on social and economic continuity. The Late/Final Jōmon (4,000 - 2,000 BP) coincided with a cooling climate, population crash in Honshu, and regionally divergent cultures and economies. Late/Final Jōmon sites were expected to show mandibular reduction in the Honshu interior which had engaged in plant cultivation and emergent agriculture as opposed to populations on the Hokkaido and Honshu coast which engaged in marine subsistence. The success of agriculture resulted in an expansion across Honshu, pushing marine subsistence communities northeastward to Hokkaido where the tradition persisted as the Epi-Jōmon until the arrival of the immigrant populations of the Okhotsk from mainland Asia through Sakhalin (1,000-600 BP). Epi-Jōmon and Okhotsk sites were expected to share comparable robusticities based on their shared practice of marine subsistence. The hypothesis for the Late/Final Jōmon and Epi-Jōmon/Okhotsk were not supported suggesting a potential of more diversified and complex subsistence practices or the possibility of cultural mitigation in food processing.

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