With rapid advances in next generation sequencing technologies, we have extracted three ancient DNA from samples from Tibet. With a dataset of present-day East Asians, we tried to reconstruct the history of this region using population genetic methods. Using the mtDNA genome, our study focused on the maternal relationship between ancient Tibetans living in 700BP and present-day populations, which revealed a genetic continuity on Tibetan plateau between the LaTuoTangGu (LTTG) cemetery and present-day Tibetans. This study is the first mtDNA genomic research of high elevation Tibetans.
Due to the development of technology and the increase in the number of specialized researchers, a considerable amount of Late Pleistocene sites have been found in Northeast Asia. Issues concerning modern human fossils, Pleistocene environment, lithic manufacturing techniques and human adaptation have been debated based on these archaeological sites. In particular, the provenance analysis of special raw materials as obsidian enables the researches on the movement and the scope of activities of modern humans during the late Pleistocene who had to continuously be on the move for survival. Most researchers have estimated the mobility of hunter-gatherers based on ethnographic researches. The direct and indirect scope of migration of the modern humans can be assumed through the range of Tanged Points and obsidian artifacts of Mt. Baekdu(Changbai). Unlike other lithic manufacturing techniques, the obsidian artifacts were not passed on to several generations but usually used and discarded by a single generation. Benefited from obsidian’s unique chemical composition, it could been seen as the most reliable evidence to indicate the scope of migration.Lithic manufacturing techniques such as Levallois, Crest, and Yubetsu were widely disseminated over a long time, which is not appropriate to use these lithic techniques to estimate the scope of movement of modern humans. However, the Tanged Point, which had been popularly utilized in a short chronological period and enjoyed a limited distribution in the Northeast Asian region. Based on the distribution of obsidian artifacts from Mt. Baekdu (Changbai) and the Tanged Points, the scope of activity of the modern humans during the Late Pleistocene (MIS 2) is estimated as 193,000~520,000 km2.
The new find of a microblade assemblage from the Dongjicuona Lakeside in Qinghai Province above 4000 m elevation, which is dated to the Middle Holocene, provides new materials concerning the technological characteristics and distribution patterns of the microblade industry in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and even the whole of China during the Holocene. The lithic assemblage includes wedge-shaped microblade cores, cylindrical microblade cores, end-scrapers and denticulates. Overall, the wedge-shaped, cylindrical and conical microblade core assemblage was relatively common in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during the Early and Middle Holocene, while the boat-shaped microblade core and biface which were common in North China during Upper Paleolithic were absent. Comparative study shows that the microblade industry of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during the Early and Middle Holocene may not directly originate from the North China, but instead this region had close contact with the microblade industry of the adjacent areas (Northwest and Southwest of China) during the Early and Middle Holocene.
Lithic artefacts are a kind of important material remains left by prehistory humans, which are the media containing the information about evolution of human cognitive, technology and behavior. And it is important for Paleolithic archaeologists to conveniently and accurately observe, illustrate, measure and show the lithic artefacts. So far, the software, Agisoft PhotoScan, has been more and more widely applied in the field of archaeology, China. Compared to other artefacts, the shape and scar pattern of each lithic artefact are unique and special. By trial and error, we have established a method, being easy to master, that using Agisoft PhotoScan to build lithic artefact 3D model. Then we introduce the application of 3D model in the Paleolithic archaeology, including how to observe and illustrate lithic artefacts, how to measure lithic artefacts, how to show lithic artefacts.
Abrasion in 2816 teeth from 174 Yangshao culture residents unearthed from the Wanggou site was observed and graded. The average tooth wear grade and the differential index of tooth wear in the anterior and posterior teeth were calculated. As well, the occurrence rates of special wear types, dental caries and mandibular/maxillary torus in the samples were determined. The results showed that the average tooth wear score of the Wanggou group was 3.4; that of males was 3.63, and that of females was 3.61. There was no significant difference in tooth wear between males and females (p>0.05). The ratio of tooth abrasion severity in the anterior vs. posterior teeth is 1:1. There were 26 cases of special wear caused by deep overbite. The incidence of pit-type abrasion on the occlusal surfaces of molars was 2.50%. The dental caries prevalence rate in Wanggou inhabitants was 68.97%; dental caries rate accounted for 26.56%, and total DMFT was 4.30. The occurrence rate of mandibular/maxillary torus was 5.20%, and the robustness of jaw bones was not significant. Tooth wear in the Wanggou population is generally light; the amount of tooth wear is close to that of the residents of the Xiawanggang population in Henan province. Based on the results of this research, we believe that the Yangshao culture people had some similarities in overall diet and dental habits with the Central Plains. This may reflect the fact that the region already had mature agricultural economy by 5000 years ago.
This is the first study focusing on human diet of people from different social status during the highly stratified Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of two nobles and twenty-four human sacrifices from the Songzhuang cemetery revealed significant differences in staple food and meat consumption between these two groups. The nobles had a millet-based diet, and ate significantly more meat than sacrificed individuals; whereas the sacrificial victims consumed varying amounts of wheat as their staple, with some dietary variation. A comparison with contemporary isotopic data also suggests that these human sacrifices had a similar diet with urban commoners, suggesting that when alive they might have lived in cities with their masters. This work has revealed dietary features of human sacrifices, people who were often ignored by textual records. These results also confirm that wheat was mainly eaten by low-status individuals during the Eastern Zhou, providing important information for the study on human diet and social stratification in this period, as well as the investigation of agriculture and the expansion of wheat in northern China.
Chinese alligators (Alligator sinensis) nowadays inhabit the downstream Yangtze River, but the alligator remains were found at several archaeological sites in Yellow river region during the Longshan period (5000~4000 BP cal). To determine whether these Yangtze alligators were indigenous or were part of long-distance trading from Yellow river region, we conducted Sr, C and O isotopic analysis of seven alligator osteoderms samples from Qingliangsi, Dinggong and Yinjiacheng sites dating from the Late Longshan Period. The87Sr/86Sr ratios of these alligator osteoderms in three sites fall into the local bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr ranges, and the δ 18O ratio of Shandong samples was higher than Shanxi samples, which was consistent with the trend of δ 18O increasing from the inland to coastal, indicating that these remains are mainly indigenous. The δ 13C of Chinese alligator osteoderm were significantly higher than the rest of the world’s inland freshwater systems crocodile, showing complex diet characteristics. The result of isotopes that is better to understand the geographical distribution change of Yangtze alligators in different periods, which is of great significance for reconstructing the paleo-environment of North China more than 4000 years ago. It also raised new questions about the relationship between the ancestors of Longshan and the Chinese alligator.
This paper describes elemental geochemical analysis of natural and anthropogenic sediment samples systematically collected from the Xichengyi late Neolithic-Bronze Age site at Zhangye, and combined high-resolution radiocarbon (14C) dates of charred plants seeds with the latest archaeological findings. Results indicated characteristic human activities between 4200 and 3500 BP cal including changes in the intensity of human smelting activities during different prehistoric phases. Variations in Rb/Sr, magnetic susceptibility and heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Pb, As and Ni) suggested that with an increase in human activities, copper smelting began to appear from 4200 to 4000 BP cal. Copper smelting substantially increased between 4000 and 3700 BP cal and declined after 3700 BP cal.
We conducted a study on the morphological variation and adaptation of semi-wild provisioned Macaca mulatta brevicaudus in the Nanwan Nature Reserve for Rhesus Macaques, Hainan, China. We measured the body weights of 253 individuals, and recorded various length morphometrics (head, crown-rump, tail, fore foot, back foot, forearm, post-brachium, thigh and crus) from 132 individuals. We compared these measurements with those recorded from other Macaca mulatta subspecies, and also investigated the correlation between body weight and social dominance. Our results show the following results. M. m. brevicaudus is significantly smaller than other mainland populations of rhesus macaque subspecies, which could be explained by Bergmann’s rule and the island rule. Males grow faster and attain larger adult body sizes than females. There is no evidence for between-group variation in body sizes indicating that there is a low-level of intergroup competition in this subspecies. Higher dominance rank is positively associated with certain morphological features (body weight, crown-rump length and head length), but has no significant relationship with others (tail length, forearm length, thigh length and foot length). This paper provided basic morphological data for a wild population of a rhesus macaque subspecies, and will be useful in understanding ecological adaptation and promoting population management of this primate species.
In 2016, we used bioelectrical impedance methods to measure the 19 body composition indicators in 276 Monba (98 males; 178 females), 93 Lhoba (34 males; 59 females) and 181 Sherpa (97 males; 84 females). Excel 2003 and SPSS 19 were used to analysis the data. Results show that the average body fat percentages of Monba and Lhoba females are in the obese range, with the Monba having a visceral fat rating of 10.26, which may cause a higher incidence of related diseases. Monba and Lhoba males have significant coherence in physical components, and are similar to Tibetan and Muyag males. The muscle mass of these three ethnic groups (Monba, Lhoba and Sherpa) is similar. Male Sherpa muscle mass is less than found in the Monba and Lhoba, but the Sherpa is lighter, and the muscle rate is much higher than in the Monba and Lhoba. At present, this research on body composition indicators of the Monba, Lhoba and Sherpa is still in its infancy, but this analysis certainly has enriched the physical data of Tibetan populations leading to significantly improving the nutritional health and physical quality of these people.
The Xiaolongtoushan site (44°25'36.2" N, 129°10'43.1" E) is located on the right bank of the Hailang River in Hailin, Heilongjiang Province. It was discovered in 2012 and excavated in 2014. From the test pit covering an area of 10 m2, a total of 82 stone artifacts was discovered. Basalt dominates the lithic raw material, followed by obsidian, tuff, andesite and dacite, etc. The lithic debitage features blade technology and microblade technology. The tool types include burin, point, bifacial point and large-sized axe. A few specimens can be conjoined and the stone artifacts are not abraded and weathered, indicating that the site was buried in situ. AMS 14C dating method was applied and suggested an age of 13185±40 BP for the cultural layer of the site, corresponding to the warming phase after the Last Glacial Maximum.
Yuxian basin, as the important area occupied by early hominins during Pleistocene, is located in the southeast part of the Nihewan basin (senso lato). During 2017 and 2018, a new Paleolithic survey were conducted by the staff from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and related units and 27 new localities were discovered or confirmed. A total of 72 artifacts and 37 animal fossil fragments were recovered from the strata. According to the geomorphological and stratigraphic comparison among the Nihewan basin, the new localities can be assigned to two stages of Middle Pleistocene and late Upper Pleistocene which corresponded to Nihewan lacustrine sediments and loess respectively. Typologically, the artifacts of Middle Pleistocene include cores, flakes, tools and debris, and the raw materials are dominated by volcanic rocks, hard hammer knapping strategy was used for the core reduction. The artifacts of the late Upper Pleistocene are mainly made by dolomite and chert, hard hammer technology and soft hammer technology were both used by early hominins. It should be noted that the knapping strategy of Middle Pleistocene presents a different technological system compared to the same period of northeast part of the Nihewan basin. Moreover, small flake tool tradition and micro-blade technology were both existed in the Yuxian basin during late Upper Pleistocene.The new survey enriched the information and territory of early hominins occupation in the Nihewan basin (senso lato), and also support the valuable clues for interpreting the dispersal and adapted behaviors adopted by early hominins in the Yuxian basin.
Jijitan site, which is located in Nihewan Basin, Heibei Province in northern China, was discovered in the 1980s. Three localities were documented, among which Locality 2 (T2) yielded the most specimens, including lithic artifacts and animal bones. Due to modern dam construction, Locality 2 was totally destroyed and no archaeological deposits preserved. Localities 1 and 3 are partly preserved, although badly destroyed by natural agencies and modern human activities. In our project, Localities 1 and 3 are re-examined, and a high density of lithic artifacts unearthed. OSL and Radiocarbon dating indicate that the anthropogenic deposits of Localities 1 and 3 were accumulated from about 16000 years ago to the early Holocene, which overlaps with the Hutouliang site complex on the opposite side of the Sanggan River. This result indicates that, during this time period, ancient humans occupied a vast area along the Sanggan River, and the population was fairly large.
The Kengnan site is located in Danjiangkou Reservior which has been a key area of archaeological excavations and research on Paleolithic recent years. In 2016, Paleolithic investigation of periphery was conducted before excavation. 209 pieces of stone artifacts uncovered from investigation are analyzed in this paper. Types of stone artifacts range from cores, flakes, blades, chunks and tools. Flaking techniques have direct hard-hammer percussion and bipolar percussion. The majority of stone tools were made of flakes and only a few were made of chunks or pebbles. Most of the tools were modified on dorsal surfaces. Some were retouched on ventral surfaces or modified bifacially. According to analysis of this paper, the site is preliminarily predicted to be dated back to as early as middle Paleolithic. New discoveries are of profound significance on characteristics of transitional areas of South and North China during late Pleistocene.
Jinghe River system is one of the important areas on the study of human occupied patterns in Northwest China. In 1920, some stone artifacts were recovered from loess deposit by French Archaeologist E. Licent in Zhaojiacha and Xinjiagou, which marked the beginning milestone of Chinese Paleolithic Archaeology. In the past century, many Paleolithic localities such as Niujiaogou, Shigoukou, Loufangzi from Qingyang and Pingliang of Gansu, Yaotougou and Dabeigou from Changwu and Qianxian of Shannxi, which enriched the early human adapted data in the Jinghe River system. However, all the discoveries are buried in the Upper and Middle Jinghe River system, and the investigations were carried out several decades ago, while few information was gotten in the lower Jinghe River system. The new findings of this Paleolithic survey fill in gaps in the Lower Jinghe River system to some extent. Sixteen localities were discovered which centralized in the second terrace of the Middle to Lower Jinghe River system, and sixty-three stone artifacts were recovered from the loess deposit. The new discovered lithic artifacts include cores, flakes and scrapers, which can be assigned to the Flake Tool Tradition in North China. Judging from the artifact layers and comparison among the geomorphology and stratigraphy in Jinghe River system, the age of the artifact layers can be deduced to Late Pleistocene.