Dental anthropological indications of agriculture among the Jomon people of central Japan. X. Peopling of the Pacific


  • This paper is the tenth of a planned series on dental anthropology of the Pacific basin and adjoining areas. The purpose of the series is to develop the use of dental polymorphisms as aids to understanding Pacific, New World, and Asian population origins, formation, and micro-evolution. Most previous papers in this series are identified in Turner and Swindler ('78).


The high rate of crown caries (8.6%; 119/1,377 teeth) and other oral pathologies in 101 central Japan Middle to Late Jomon Period (ca. 1000 B.C.) crania indicate a level of carbohydrate consumption consistent with an agriculture hypothesis. Because Jomon dental crown and root morphology shows strong resemblances with past and present Southeast Asians, but not with ancient Chinese or modern Japanese, Jomon agriculture could be of great antiquity in the isolated Japanese islands. These dental data and other assembled facts suggest that ancestral Jomonese might have carried to Japan a cariogenic cultigen such as taro before the end of the Pleistocene from tropical Sundaland by way of the now-submerged east Asian continental shelf.