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DNA suggests Yayoi people's paternal gene link to Jomon people, maternal ties to foreigners

Kenichi Shinoda, deputy director of the National Museum of Nature and Science, speaks at Torigin Bunka Kaikan hall in the city of Tottori on March 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Hitoshi Sonobe)

TOTTORI -- DNA analysis of a large number of human bones unearthed at a site of ancient remains here suggests that the circa 2nd century bones possibly belonged to people whose maternal side came from abroad and paternal side was derived from the Jomon people, according to an interim report released here on March 2.

Kenichi Shinoda, deputy director of the National Museum of Nature and Science, announced the report at Torigin Bunka Kaikan hall in the city of Tottori in western Japan on March 2, regarding the bones excavated at the Aoyakamijichi remains in the city.

While noting that the analysis was only halfway complete, Shinoda said that many of the bones' paternal genes can be said to belong to a group close to the Jomon people. The finding came as a result of "nuclear genome" analysis, which can decode paternal genetic information. The Jomon period is said to have lasted from around 12,000 years ago until about 2,400 years ago.

It is believed that people of various genetic groups dwelled at the Aoyakamijichi ruins, a government-designated historic site, during the Yayoi period. It is said that analysis of those groups may help clarify the origin of Japanese people.

The latest research marked the country's first such full-scale analysis of bones from the Yayoi period, spanning from the 4th century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. About 430 people ardently listened to Shinoda's speech.

When the initial report was delivered in November last year, it was announced that most of the bones were found to belong to people from abroad, including the Korean Peninsula and China, as a result of mitochondrial DNA analysis, which can decode maternal genetic information.

Researchers will further analyze the bones and study the characteristics of each individual.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Sonobe, Tottori Bureau)

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