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Digital Image Depicts “Himiko of Okitama”

Thursday, December 1, 2022

YONEZAWA, JAPAN—The Asahi Shimbun reports that a digital image of a woman who lived some 1,600 years ago has been created by a team made up of researchers from Tohoku University, the Yonezawa education board, and other research institutes. The scientists employed information collected from the woman’s remains, which were found in 1982 on the island of Honshu in one of the 200 graves in the Totsukayama burial mound group. Dubbed “Himiko of Okitama,” she had been buried with a long-tooth comb and a small knife. Analysis of her well-preserved genome indicates that she descended from people who migrated to the island from China during the Yayoi Pottery Culture Period, between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 250, and that she is an ancestor of the modern population of Japan. Her DNA was also used to determine her hair color and skin color in the digital image. Study of her bones was used to recreate her facial features. The study also suggests she stood about four feet, nine inches tall, and was about 40 years old when she died. Toshihiko Suzuki of Tohoku University added that the pattern of wear on the woman’s teeth suggests that she clenched them, resulting in a distorted jaw that likely affected her ability to chew. For more on the populations from which modern Japanese people descended, go to "Japan's Genetic History."

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