Tanegashima (Japon): Cranial deformation found
Signs of cranial deformation in the skulls of Hirota site, Tanegashima Island
One puzzling question that has persistently perplexed archaeologists and scholars is that of why no skulls with artificial cranial deformation have ever been found on the Japanese islands. This is despite the evidence in genetics that a substantive part of the Japanese genepool is shared with Korea where the cranial traits are marked. Historical texts too say a great many immigrants called toraijin from the continent and Korea settled in the Japanese archipelagos, so it is a mystery why no cranial deformation has been observed. That is, until now. All of the skeletons uncovered at the Hirota site on Tanegashima Island (continuous settlement between Final Yayoi to Late Kofun period, 3rd to 7th century) were found to have cranial deformations. Another cranial traits study (Kato et al.) puts Mongolians, the Yayoi and Japanese and North Americans (Aleut Eskimos Arctic grouping) together in the same cluster as well as on a gradual distance cline (the Chancay were noted to show resemblance to the Ainu and Jomon in terms of facial flatness).
However, a further puzzle remains, faced to the Pacific Ocean and of a southerly orientation (being part of Kagoshima prefecture, and its procuring of shells from the southern seas), the closest head-binding practising culture would have been from the Philippines, rather than from the Hun-inhabited Eurasian continent. Being of a short stature, the Hirota people also don’t seem to fit the continental types, but appear to be closer to the Philippine type (see Mizoguchi, Conese)
From the Historic Site Hirota report:
“Lateral view of the skeleton recovered from burial No. 1, northern sector (Final Yayoi) Viewed from the side, the skull is seen to be flattened at the back. Not only this skeleton, but all of the skeletons found at Hirota were flat-headed. For this reason it is thought that the Hirota people followed the custom of deliberately deforming the skull. As people practicing this form of cranial deformation have not been found in any other region in the Japanese archipelago, it may be regarded as a special characteristic of the Hirota residents.”
The Hirota people (today Minamitane town, Kagoshima prefecture) had a unique material culture that was completely different from that on any of the other Japanese islands: they were buried in multiples in a “stone-covered graves” at the top of coastal dunes. They had an extremely rich shell-jewelry items numbering nearly 3,000 pieces, of southern seas’ Amami and Okinawan islands’ provenance. The people were all of extremely short stature, none of whom, not even the men, were over 154 cm high.