Macro-Scale Population Patterns in the Kofun Period of the Japanese Archipelago: Quantitative Analysis of a Larger Sample of Three-Dimensional Data from Ancient Human Crania

Humans 4 (2):131–147 (2024)
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The present study collected a larger set of three-dimensional data on human crania from the Kofun period (as well as from previous periods, i.e., the Jomon and Yayoi periods) in the Japanese archipelago (AD 250 to around 700) than previous studies. Three-dimensional geometric morphometrics were employed to investigate human migration patterns in finer-grained phases. These results are consistent with those of previous studies, although some new patterns were discovered. These patterns were interpreted in terms of demic diffusion, archaeological findings, and historical evidence. In particular, the present results suggest the presence of a gradual geological cline throughout the Kofun period, although the middle period did not display such a cline. This discrepancy might reflect social changes in the middle Kofun period, such as the construction of keyhole-shaped mounds in the peripheral regions. The present study implies that a broader investigation with a larger sample of human crania is essential to elucidating macro-level cultural evolutionary processes.

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Hisashi Nakao
Nanzan University


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