Harumi Fujita (archaeologist)

Last updated
Harumi Fujita
Native name
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
Other namesHarumi Fujita Kawabe
Years active1983–present
Known forMesoamerican archaeology of the Baja California Peninsula

Harumi Fujita (Japanese : 藤田はるみ, [1] also known as Harumi Fujita Kawabe) [2] is a Japanese researcher of Mexican archaeology, who has specialized in pre-classical period of the northern states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Her research has shown that fishing cultures had arisen in the area at the end of the Pleistocene period, indicating an occupation from at least 11,000 years ago. In a cave shelf known as the Babisuri Shelter, radiocarbon dating indicated the area may have been occupied 40,000 years ago.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Baja California Federal entity in Mexico

Baja California, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Baja California, is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1952, the area was known as the North Territory of Baja California. It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of Mexico and comprises the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, north of the 28th parallel, plus oceanic Guadalupe Island. The mainland portion of the state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by Sonora, the U.S. state of Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and on the south by Baja California Sur. Its northern limit is the U.S. state of California.

Baja California Sur State of Mexico

Baja California Sur, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California Sur, is the second-smallest Mexican state by population and the 31st admitted state of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.


Early life

Harumi Fujita was born in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan and was raised in Sapporo until her fifth birthday. Because her father was a student at the University of Michigan, the family, which included a brother and her parents, moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan for two years, where Fujita began her primary schooling. Returning to Japan, she completed her secondary studies and attended Hokkaido University. After her graduation, Fujita moved to Israel to study Hebrew and met several Mexican students in her classes. Living on a kibbutz, she became interested in archaeology, visiting various sites during her two years in the country. In 1978, she moved to Mexico City and enrolled in archaeology classes at the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (ENAH). Completing her course work in 1982, she accompanied Jesus Mora and Baudelina Garcia Uranga to the Baja California Peninsula in northern Mexico to complete her field projects. Writing her thesis on the shellfish gathered by the prehistoric indigenous people on the peninsula, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in archaeology in 1985. [3]

Otaru City in Hokkaido, Japan

Otaru is a city and port in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently grown as a bedroom community.

Hokkaido Island, region, and prefecture of Japan

Hokkaido, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is the second largest island of Japan, and the largest and northernmost prefecture. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu. The two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaido is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. About 43 km north of Hokkaido lies Sakhalin Island, Russia. To its east and north-east are the disputed Kuril Islands.

Sapporo Designated city in Hokkaido, Japan

Sapporo is the fifth largest city of Japan by population, and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture and Ishikari Subprefecture. It is an ordinance-designated city.


Working on a waste pile in Baja California Sur, Fujita postulated in 1988, that the settlements along the coast from the remains of sea animals appeared to be transitory. [4] In 1991, Fujita was designated as a researcher with the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) (National Institute of Anthropology and History) and assigned to Baja California Sur [2] working the cape region. Her initial task was to coordinate a survey of the area and document sites. [3] Between 1994 and 1996, Fujita's survey of the Island as well as nearby Isla Partida were compiled as El poblamiento de América visto desde la isla Espíritu Santo (The settlement of America seen from the island Espiritu Santo) and documented 127 coastal sites, which included caves, open-air campsites, shelters, and waste piles, containing artifacts, burials and cave paintings. [5] [6] Dated to indicate habitation between 10,000 and 21,000 years ago, the findings confirmed occupation of the island long before the arrival of Europeans. [6]

The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia is a Mexican federal government bureau established in 1939 to guarantee the research, preservation, protection, and promotion of the prehistoric, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and paleontological heritage of Mexico. Its creation has played a key role in preserving the Mexican cultural heritage. Its current national headquarters are housed in the Palace of the Marqués del Apartado.

Isla Partida island in Mexico

Isla Partida is separated from Isla Espíritu Santo by a shallow, narrow channel. These two islands, in the Gulf of California, are protected by UNESCO as biospheres. They are located a short boat ride from La Paz, which lies on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. It has a land area of 15.495 km (9.628 mi) and is part of the Municipality of La Paz in Baja California Sur.

In 1996, Fujita identified the Babisuri Shelter site on the Island of Espíritu Santo. In stratum III of the shelter, she discovered artifacts made from shell that were radiocarbon dated to yield dates indicating occupation of the site at 40,000 years ago. [7] The findings were significant, as they indicated that habitation of the Americas may have occurred thousands of years before previously estimated. [5] Eighty-eight different dating tests were performed on the site, confirming five layers of soils and three different occupations by inhabitants for the Archaic period. [8] In 2000, Fujita and Judith F. Porcasi evaluated methods in which early hunters might have exploited dolphins. Lack of remains, has caused many theorists to reject that such hunting occurred in northern Mexico, but Fujita and Porcasi postulated that clacking stones together underwater from the side of a boat, could disrupt the sonar of dolphins. In areas where deep water is found near the shoreline, the technique could be used to beach the animals and allow them to be clubbed or speared, as it was in the North Atlantic and the Pacific Islands. [9]

Isla Espíritu Santo Mexican island in the Gulf of California

Isla Espíritu Santo is an island in the Gulf of California, off the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. It is separated from Isla Partida by a narrow canal.

Archaic Period (Americas)

Several chronologies in the archaeology of the Americas include an Archaic Period or Archaic stage etc. It is often sub-divided, for example into "Early", "Middle" and "Late", or alternatively "Lower" and "Upper", stages. The dates, and the characteristics of the period called "Archaic" vary between different parts of the Americas. Sometimes also referred to as the "Pre-Ceramic stage" or period, it followed the Lithic stage and was superseded by the Formative stage, or a Preformative stage. The typical broad use of the terms is as follows:

Fujita discovered artifacts in 2011, which were c-shaped hooks, similar to those found in Ecuador, Australia and along the coast of the Arabian Sea, indicating that as early as 8,000 to 11,000 years ago, indigenous peoples living in Baja California Sur were engaged in fishing. Fourteen of the hooks were definitively dated to the Terminal Pleistocene era, making the among the oldest fishing hooks known to exist and confirming that fishing cultures had emerged in North America before the Early Holocene period. [10] In 2013, Aníbal Lopez Espinoza published an analysis of the cave paintings documented by Fujita, Dave Huddart and Silva. [11] Expanding her research area along the coast covering the area between La Paz and the Sierra de las Cacachilas (west to east) and between El Novillo and Tecolote Beach (south to north), Fujita identified 172 sites with significant archaeological remains. In all, her work in Baja California Sur has identified over 500 places with traces of historical value. In 2014, she located two caves near Tecolote Beach which confirm ancient settlement of the area to around 10,000 years ago in the Early Holocene period. Similarly to earlier sites found on Espíritu Santo, marine resources and shells were frequently used by the inhabitants. [12] Continuing her work on the site, she discovered 61 burial sites, which show funerary characteristics of dual burials for the ancient inhabitants. [13]

The Pleistocene is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

La Paz, Baja California Sur City in Baja California Sur, Mexico

La Paz is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial center. The city had a 2015 census population of 244,219 inhabitants, making it the most populous city in the state. Its metropolitan population is somewhat larger because of the surrounding towns, such as El Centenario, Chametla and San Pedro. It is in La Paz Municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size and reported a population of 290,286 inhabitants on a land area of 20,275 km2 (7,828 sq mi).

Selected works

International Standard Serial Number unique eight-digit number used to identify a print or electronic periodical publication

An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit serial number used to uniquely identify a serial publication, such as a magazine. The ISSN is especially helpful in distinguishing between serials with the same title. ISSN are used in ordering, cataloging, interlibrary loans, and other practices in connection with serial literature.

<i>American Antiquity</i> Peer-reviewed academic journal

The professional journal American Antiquity is published by the Society for American Archaeology, an organization of professional archaeologists of the Americas. The journal is considered to be the flagship journal of American archaeology.

Cambridge University Press (CUP) is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. It also holds letters patent as the Queen's Printer.

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