1. There are two large gaps in the occupation of the main Okinawan islands. The first gap begins with the final phases of the Palaeolithic and ends with the oldest radiocarbon date of ca. 6700 BP (uncalibrated). The second gap is from the 4th century to the 10th or 11th century.

2. The occupation of the southern islands, the Miyako and Yaeyama groups, can be divided into four periods (Takamiya 1991, pp. 35-40):

1. non-ceramic with polished and partially polished axes, and dates ranging from 2200 BP (radiocarbon uncalibrated) to AD 1010 (historic).
2. Shimo-Tabara type pottery, and uncalibrated radiocarbon dates ranging from 3850 to 3260 BP. The order of phases 1 and 2 is questionable.
3. Nakamori type pottery and Chinese trade ceramics, dating probably to the 13th-16th centuries, comtemporary with the Gusuku Period.
4. The 17th and 18th centuries, affiliated with Japan.

Modern Okinawa 1879 to present Meiji 12th year the han (daimyo fiefs) were eliminated and the ken (prefecture) established.
Early Modern Ryukyu 1609 to 1879 Shimatsu invasion brought the Ryukyu Kingdom into the baku-han (shogunate-daimyo fief) system, but the kingdom remained somewhat independent.
Old Ryukyu ca. 12th C. to 1609 Period of the independent Ryukyu Kingdom. This kingdom encompassed the Amami, Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama island groups. It probably began about the late 14th century. This roughly parallels the archaeological Gusuku Period, from about the 12th or early 13th century to about the 15th or 16th century.
Prehistoric Period Palaeolithic to ca. AD 12th C. Palaeolithic sites are found in the archipelago, but then there is a gap to about 6600 BP, when a Jomon-like culture spreads over the islands from the main Okinawa island to Kyushu. A Yayoi-like culture existed in the same area from the middle of the 1st millennium BC until some unknown time in the 4th century AD or later. There is no Kofun Period in the Ryukyu archipelago. Little is known of the prehistory of the Miyako and Yaeyama island groups, but the prehistoric cultures there derived from Taiwan.


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  • Oda, Shizuo, ed. (1998). Kuroshio-ken no Masei Sekifu (The Compilation of the Polished Axes/Adzes Around the Kuroshio Current). Kokogaku Shiryoshu 3 (Archaeology Series, no. 3). Sakura City: Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan-nai Harunari Kenkyu-shitsu (Harunari Office, National Museum of Japanese History). [Heisei 9 Nendo Monbu Kagaku Kenkyuhi Hojokin, Juten Ryoiki Kenkyu 1: Nihon-jin oyobi Nihon Bunka no Kigen ni Kansuru Gakusai-teki Kenkyu (1997 Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture of Japan Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas 1: Interdisciplinary Study on the Origins of the Japanese People and Cultures)]

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  • Takamiya, Hiroe. (1991). Senshi Kodai no Okinawa (Prehistoric and Ancient Periods in Okinawa). Nanto Bunka Sosho 12 (Cultures of the Southern Islands Series, no. 12). Tokyo: Dai'ichi Shobo.

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