In Japan’s early modern period (1603–1867), also known as the Edo period, females were considered inferior to males. It is therefore plausible that boys were raised more solicitously than girls, and that girls were subject to various kinds of deprivation in early childhood. We compared the prevalence of linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) in the dentition of the skeletal remains of early modern Japanese samurai and commoners interred in an urban location (a castle town). Significant sex differences were found in the prevalence of LEH in both groups. As there is evidence that LEH prevalence reflects stress levels in early childhood, the significant differences between the sexes provide material evidence for the hypothesis that male offspring were given preferential treatment among both samurai and commoners in Edo period urban society.
The demographic structure of prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies has contributed to our understanding of the life history patterns of past human populations. The purposes of this study are to examine the human skeletal remains associated with the Okhotsk culture, to estimate age-at-death distribution using the Buckberry–Chamberlain system of auricular surface aging and the Bayesian approach, and to discuss whether paleodemographic estimates can yield an appropriate mortality profile of prehistoric hunter-gatherers in Japan. The application of the Bayesian theorem to the age-at-death estimation was based on the modern Japanese and Spitalfields known-age collections, assuming uniform, reference, and model prior probabilities. The age distributions of the Okhotsk had low proportions of young adults and high proportions of elderly adults. The results indicated that 24.4–51.3% of individuals were above the age of 55 years. The newly employed technique of the Bayesian estimation yielded the age distributions with significant numbers of elderly individuals, which are contrary to usual paleodemographic estimates. The results of this study suggest direct and plausible evidence of demographic traits in the Okhotsk people and allow us to reveal the mortality schedules of the prehistoric hunter-gatherers that otherwise could not be reconstructed from historical or ethnological records.
Reconstruction of the mortality profiles of non-adult human skeletons from an archeological site should greatly assist the interpretation of the sanitation, health, disease, and behavior of past human populations. The purposes of this study are to examine non-adult skeletons from the Sakai-kango-toshi 871 (SKT 871) site in Edo-period (17–19th centuries AD) Japan, to estimate their age-at-death distribution, and to discuss whether paleodemographic estimates can yield appropriate mortality patterns of this sample. The use of the Bayesian method for fetal age estimation, assuming uniform priors, yielded a peak of deaths at 10 months of gestation. The age-at-death distribution obtained from the whole population further indicated the peak of deaths being at the fetal stage and the number of deaths decreasing with age. The concentration on full-term of gestation implied deaths related to birth, which is consistent with natural mortality. Another important finding of this study is that individuals aged less than 7 years accounted for about 98% of the deaths and there was no burial for adults. An explanation for the lack of adults is preferential mortuary practices, in which the very young are buried separately from adults. It is concluded that this paleodemographic study of non-adults provides us with important information on mortality profiles and mortuary practices in Edo-period Japan.
We designed observational surveys of controlled foraging trips of Baka hunter-gatherers in Cameroon to verify the ‘wild yam question’—i.e. is it possible for human beings to live without agricultural products in a tropical rainforest?—and to examine their foraging lifestyle. We observed two 20-day trips during which no agricultural or commercial food except salt and pepper could be used. The first trip was conducted by six married couples in August, the short dry season, of the year 2003, and the second one by eight married couples in October, the rainy season, 2005. The Baka cooperators obtained 22 species and 43 vernacular names of food in all during both survey periods. No cooperators lost weight from any food shortage in both seasons. Energy intake per consumption-day was estimated at 2528–2865 kilocalories in the dry season, and at 2479–2777 kilocalories in the rainy season. Providing more than 60% of estimated energy intake in both seasons, wild yam tubers proved to be an essential food to enable a foraging life in tropical rainforests. From this survey we could find no evidence that it is impossible to live independently of agriculture in a tropical rainforest although it seemed that the cooperators paid a high energy cost to secure food, especially wild yam tubers. This study implies that a Paleolithic foraging lifestyle in the African tropical rainforest was very likely, although not easy, and that Paleolithic foragers may have been the ancestors of the present ‘pygmy’ hunter-gatherers.
To study the origin of Polynesians and the gene flow from Polynesian ancestors to indigenous Melanesians, a 48-bp variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in exon 3 of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene was investigated for six Austronesian (AN)-speaking populations—two in Tonga (Nuku’alofa and Ha’apai), three in Solomon Islands (Munda, Paradise, and Rawaki, of whom Rawaki was a Micronesian migrant group), and one in Papua New Guinea (Balopa), and one Non-Austronesian (NAN)-speaking population in Papua New Guinea (Gidra). In these Oceanic populations, six VNTR alleles with 2 (2R) to 11 (7R) repeats were observed. The most frequent DRD4 VNTR allele was the 4R allele, although the allele frequencies of 2R and 7R varied markedly among them, characterized by high frequencies of 7R and lack of 2R in NAN-speaking Melanesians (Gidra), and high frequencies of 2R and low or null frequencies of 7R in AN-speaking Polynesians (Nuku’alofa and Ha’apai) and Micronesians (Rawaki). The allele frequency distribution of DRD4 VNTR in Polynesians was similar to that in Aboriginal Taiwanese (Ami and Atayal), supporting the hypothesis that Polynesian ancestors were derived from Southeast Asians (probably Taiwanese). A principal component analysis for Southeast Asian and Oceanic populations based on the DRD4 VNTR allele frequencies revealed that AN-speaking Melanesian populations were genetically placed between two AN-speaking Polynesian and one NAN-speaking Melanesian populations. These results provide evidence of gene flow from Polynesian ancestors to indigenous Melanesians while Polynesian ancestors passed through Melanesia.
In this study, nine nonmetric cranial traits were recorded for ancient human remains excavated at early prehistoric (the late Pleistocene, early Holocene, and Pre-Pottery Neolithic) and late prehistoric (the Neolithic and early Iron age) archeological sites in northern Vietnam. The comparative samples consist of prehistoric and early historic crania from the lower Yangtze River basin, together with recent cranial series from Vietnam, Thailand, South China, and Australia. The results, based mainly on the measure of divergence, are as follows: (1) the early prehistoric northern Vietnam group is distinct from the subsequent inhabitants of northern Vietnam and neighboring populations; (2) the cranial series of northern Vietnam and the surrounding region from the late prehistoric to recent times through early historic period exhibit relative homogeneity, suggesting population continuity; (3) the recent Han Chinese from southern China, one of the possible representatives of East Asians, are relatively distant from all groups from the prehistoric age onwards; and (4) a clear separation of Aboriginal Australians from all the comparative samples, including the early prehistoric northern Vietnamese, is evident. These findings suggest partial support for the two opposing hypotheses, i.e. the two-layer model and the regional-continuity model, for the population history of Southeast Asians, at least, in the northern Vietnamese region. This may be further compatible with the recent hypothesis for modern human dispersals: an earlier out-of-Africa expansion of Australians than other contemporary Eurasians including Southeast Asians.
This study investigated interpopulation genetic relationships in the Jomon Atsumi Peninsula area, comparing the pattern of human migration revealed by strontium isotope ratio with dental metric variation of Yoshigo and Inariyama skeletal remains. Morphological differences were evaluated between the local and immigrant groups to determine whether or not local populations had become completely homogenized by human migration. We have constructed 4 × 4 contingency tables consisting of four clusters derived from K-means clustering of dental measurements and four groups (immigrants and locals of the two sites), and evaluated their correlations by Fisher’s exact test. The results revealed that human migration pattern was significantly correlated with dental metric variation, suggesting that there was regional heterogeneity among Jomon populations in the Atsumi Peninsula area. Although the distinction between immigrants and locals of Yoshigo and Inariyama populations based on strontium isotope analysis was not completely in accord with dental metric variability, most of the identified immigrants exhibited dental profiles that were beyond each local profile as determined using principal component analysis. Furthermore, the dental metric variances of the immigrants were significantly larger than those of the locals, suggesting multiple origins. The microdifferentiation among populations in the Atsumi Peninsula area may suggest nonrandom kin-structured migration and/or population aggregation from surrounding areas.
The purpose of this paper is to clarify the endocranial and postorbital morphologies of the terminal Pleistocene Minatogawa people, and obtain insights into their evolutionary background and genealogical relationships. The Minatogawa I and IV crania were compared with 83 Homo sapiens specimens (including 19 prehistoric Jomon). Metric comparative analyses and observational evaluations revealed that the two Minatogawa endocrania are characterized by a common suite of features (or tendency), including a small endocranial volume, relatively low endocranial shape, distinctly broad temporal region (qualitatively associated with the strong temporal bulge), weak parietal boss, and weakly swollen frontal bulge. Postorbital constriction was confirmed to be strong, relative to both upper facial breadth and maximum cranial breadth. Partial correlation analysis and bivariate comparisons were performed to examine the possible associations of Minatogawa’s strong postorbital constriction. The results suggest that constriction relative to the face is predominantly due to a large facial breadth (frontal endocranium not so narrow in Minatogawa I), and also in part to strong neuro-orbital disjunction, while constriction relative to the posterior cranium is largely attributable to endocranial shape. Comparisons with modern/recent H. sapiens materials and limited but informative outgroup specimens (Skhul V, and an example of Homo erectus, Daka) suggests that some of the features characteristic of Minatogawa are possibly ancestral retentions of early H. sapiens (e.g. strong temporal bulge, marked postorbital constriction relative to the face), while others are probably derived population features (e.g. a small endocranial volume, weakly swollen frontal bulge, marked postorbital constriction relative to the posterior cranium). In overall endocranial proportions, the Jomon tend to lie closer to Minatogawa than does the modern Japanese, but such morphologies were also found in individuals of other populations, and thus the similarity does not necessarily support the hypothesis of Minatogawa–Jomon genealogical closeness.