Home | Index

English Summary of: Oda Shizuo, "Doubts about the Stone Artifacts and Dates for the Miyagi Early Palaeolithic Sites, Kagaku Asahi, July 1985, pp. 27-29.

summarized by Charles T. Keally
August 27, 2001
revised: November 12, 2001

Oda Shizuo was effectively the only person who spoke out critically about the Early Palaeolithic finds in Miyagi Prefecture in the early 1980s. He raised questions about these finds at conferences and newspaper interviews from about 1981. The following is a summary of the criticisms he made in an interview with Kawai Nobukazu, for the Monthly Journal of Science Kagaku Asahi in 1985.

In that interview, Oda also expressed the fear that the Miyagi finds were being accepted before the questions about them were cleared up. He noted that Serizawa Chosuke had tried [and largely failed] to convince the archaeology world that his lithics were human artifacts. But the Miyagi lithics were most likely human artifacts; now the proponents were taking the different tactic of trying to convince us that the dates are accurate. Fifteen years later, after the Early Palaeolithic materials had received almost universal acceptance in Japan, and up to the day before the fabrication scandal broke in November 2000, the questions and doubts that Oda expressed in this interview remained unanswered (CTK).

Oda's Critcisms:

  1. Zazaragi Stratum 13 is not 42,000 years old (42 ka) as claimed.

  2. Zazaragi Stratum 15 is not human artifacts; even at 42-43 ka humans would have made things more convincingly artifacts.

  3. Thermoluminescence dating [the type being used in Miyagi] is not as reliable as radiocarbon dating. Specifically, Zazaragi Strata 4, 6c and 8 have TL dates of 70-90 ka but the deeper, and supposedly older, Stratum 13 has a TL date of only 42 ka.

  4. The artifacts lack vertical displacement [a universal characteristic of Late Palaeolithic sites].

    This might be explained by a much younger age than what is claimed, and thus less time for the actions of nature to displace the artifacts. They could match the Musashino Upland's Phase I, which is dated 20 ka or a little older.

  5. There are no clusters of charcoal or other evidence of fire [a universal characteristic of Late Palaeolithic sites].

  6. There are no refittable pieces or other evidence of tool production or repair at the sites [a universal characteristic of Late Palaeolithic sites].

    Flooding of the Zazaragi site could explain the lack of charcoal and refittable pieces -- the water would wash away the light materials and leave behind only the heavier stones. And stones banging together during the flooding might have produced the "artifacts", i.e. geofacts.

  7. Geologists say that Zazaragi Strata 12 to 15 are a single-event pyroclastic flow that could not possibly contain human occupation levels [although human occupations were being claimed for Strata 12, 13 and 15].

  8. The older finds from the Babadan A and Nakamine C sites are too similar to the Zazaragi materials, suggesting they are not older. The Nakamine C Layer 5 is a secondary deposit and cannot be old.

  9. It is strange that the Early Palaeolithic sites concentrate in Miyagi Prefecture, on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan.

    There are about 3,000 Palaeolithic sites in the country [in 1985] but only about 2% of them are below the Aira-Tanzawa (AT) pumice [dated about 22 ka]. In Tokyo only about 20 sites have yielded artifacts below AT [out of about 200 sites in 1985, most of which have multiple occuapations]. Further, a great many people all over the country are looking for Early Palaeolithc artifacts and not finding them; the intensive search is not limited to Miyagi Prefecture.

    Oda went on to say that he feels the oldest materials -- Stratum X -- so far confirmed in the Tokyo area and in Japan are developed enough to suggest they have predecessors in Japan. But during the Musashino Loam time (30-60 ka) in Tokyo, the upland was subjected to frequent flooding and possibly was not a good place for human occupation.


    Back to Index