Ancient Ryukyu: An Archaeological Study of Island Communities

Ancient Ryukyu explores 30,000 years of human occupation in the Ryukyu Islands, from the earliest human presence in the region up to A.D. 1609 and the emergence of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It focuses on the unique geopolitical position of the islands, their environment, and the many human communities whose historical activities can be discerned. Drawing on the impressive work of dozens of local archaeologists who have brought the islands’ early history to life, Richard Pearson describes explorers and sojourners and colonists who arrived thousands of years ago, and their ancient trade links to Japan, Korea, and China.

Through analysis of work completed at about 120 sites described in dozens of rare Japanese government reports with limited circulation, Pearson is able to show that many modern features of the culture, politics, and economy of the Ryukyu Islands have very deep roots.

“This extremely important study in Pacific and island archaeology makes use of the huge database generated by Okinawan archaeology in the postwar era and places the Okinawan islands in the context of current theoretical debates within island archaeology in the Pacific and beyond. It is also a major study of premodern Okinawa. With its many valuable overviews and discussions, as well as its original analyses and interpretations, it will undoubtedly become the definitive text in English.” —Mark Hudson, Nishikyushu University

November 2013 | 432 pages | 36 illustrations | 20 maps
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3712-9 | $55.00 | Cloth