2015 Volume 123 Issue 2 Pages 87-94
Two complete dog skeletons were recovered during archeological excavations from 1961 to 1970 at the Kamikuroiwa rock shelter, a site that yielded a series of cultural entities from the Late Pleistocene, Incipient Jomon, and Early Jomon periods. Since two dogs were buried close to human skeletons, it was thought that these dogs had been buried by Jomon people, and hence provided the oldest direct evidence of Canis domestication in Japan. However, the stratigraphic information and archeological contexts of these dog skeletons are incomplete due to the lack of detailed excavation reports and technical limitations of excavations at this site. Because the date of the dog burials has not been fully discussed in the context of modern chronology or recent discussions on Canis domestication, we directly measured radiocarbon ages and stable isotope analysis on two dog burials and one set of human remains from the Kamikuroiwa rock shelter. These data are important for reconstructing the relationship between humans and dogs in the Jomon period. Our results show that the human thought to have been buried with the dogs was assigned to the middle Initial Jomon period (8977–8725 calBP), whereas, on the other hand, dates for the dog burials are very close to each other and were assigned to the latest Initial Jomon or the initial Early Jomon periods (7414–7273 calBP). Although these results are not consistent with previous archeological interpretations for this site, they remain important because these two dog burials are among the oldest evidence of Canis domestication in East Asia.