The osteological study of ancient human remains is an important part of physical anthropology, which has a history of more than one hundred years in China. Significant advances have been made in the last decade. In this paper, the progress of osteological study of Holocene human remains in China is reviewed.In the last ten years, the fields of research have expanded significantly, including population evolution history, paleopathology, skeletal abnormalities related to cultural customs, functional adaptation of long bones, paleodemography, body shape and size, climate adaptation, etc., and have accumulated many important physical data of ancient populations. The breadth and depth of the research have completely surpassed the situation that focused on ethnographic analysis in the last century. In addition to traditional methods based on metric and non-metric traits of skull and teeth, evolutionary quantitative genetic method has been introduced into regional population history study. There are also microevolutionary analysis of craniofacial morphologies on large spatial and temporal scale. Geometric morphometrics has proved to be of great value in the study of population history. In the study of paleopathology, there are some regional comparative researches focus on stress conditions, dental diseases, trauma, etc. Particular attention has been paid to the impact of social, cultural, and subsistence background on the pattern of disease. Biomechanics and geometric morphometrics have been used to analyze the long bone function, which provides important information for the reconstruction of activity patterns of past humans. New methods such as digital photography, micro-CT and 3D laser scanning, geometric morphology and morphometric maps have played an important role in supporting these progresses. Most studies highlight the significant advantages of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research, which is also essential for the future study. However, there are still some fields to be explored in China, such as the osteological study of children, female and physical adaptation to the environment. Basic research of osteology also needs to be strengthened.
With the development of fieldwork techniques and research concept, great improvements have been archived in the excavation and record method of Paleolithic archaeology. The excavating method reformed at the Zhoukoudian site in 1930s is significant in the history of Paleolithic excavation in China, which laid solid foundation for Paleolithic excavation and research. In the early the 1990s, archaeological investigations in the Nihewan basin conducted by the Sino-American joint team introduced standardized fieldwork methods and procedures to Paleolithic research in China. In the 21st century, the application of new technologies and concepts helps archaeologists in the country extract information more scientifically and comprehensively. This study is about the excavation history and methodological development at the Zhoukoudian site and sties in the Nihewan basin, by briefly reviewing the changes of the excavating and recording methods. Combined the valuable information from the previous excavations with the current standard of Paleolithic excavation, we take the Donggutuo site as an example to illustrate the general trend of fieldwork methodological development in Paleolithic and advocate establishing a standard excavating and recording system in Paleolithic archaeology of China.
As an important type of stone products, core plays an important role in revealing the utilization degree of raw materials, technological development sequence and cognitive ability of early humans. With regard to the typological classifications of cores in the Early Paleolithic, Chinese scholars usually take account to the platform numbers as a key criterion. However,this classification method neglects the technological diversity during the process of core flaking, and thus hinders a deep understanding of the lithic technology and related cognitive abilities of early humans. Currently, various core classification methods have been employed by our international colleagues. Among these, the approaches that established and used by Mary Leakey, J. Desmond Clark, Glynn Isaac, Eric Boёda, Kathleen Kuman and Ignacio de la Torre respectively are the most representative ones. In this paper, we aim to review and compare those different classification systems and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. On this basis, We will discuss relevant domestic research work in the future.
Through observing and studying the characteristics of the deciduous teeth of prehistoric infants in Yuhuazhai village, Xi’an, this paper finds that the deciduous teeth and permanent teeth have the same value in ethnic identification, and the partial morphological characteristics of the deciduous teeth are more distinct than that of permanent teeth. The results of statistical analysis showed that the morphology of the deciduous teeth of Yuhuazhai infants was similar to that of Sinodonty of Northeast Asian populations, and the Sundadonty of a small number of Southeast Asian populations, which was basically consistent with the cranial characteristics of other ancient populations in Guanzhong during the same period. The author analyzes the reason of this phenomenon. In addition, the measurement data of the deciduous teeth of Yuhuazhai infants were analyzed and discussed.
Head and face characteristics are important for the classification of human races, and are also used as evidence of kinship in anthropological studies. In this research, 16 head and face characteristics of 2,989 adults (1,434 males and 1,555 females) for 14 ethnic groups were investigated in ethnic groups of Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet, Guizhou, Hainan, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia between 2006 and 2016. Results of this study are as follows. In the ethnic groups Muya, Ersu, Lingao and Baima, males had larger facial and head breadths. Tuva, Buryat and Mosuo males were larger in facial and head breadths, morphological facial height and nasal height. Facial and head breadths of Deng, Gejia and Mang males were small, but morphological facial height and nasal height were large. Kongge males had small facial and head breadth, morphological facial height and nasal height. For females, the Tuva and Buryat ethnic groups had large head and facial breadths, nasal height and auricular height. Gejia and Kongge females had small head and facial breadths, nasal height and auricular height. Head and facial breadths of Muya, Ersu, Bajia, Baima and Sherpa females were large, whereas nasal height and auricular height were small. Head and facial breadths of Deng, Khmus and Mang females were small, but nasal height and auricular height were large. It was noted that head breadth and physiognomic ear length were highly correlated with environmental factors such as latitude, annual average temperature and annual rainfall. Through statistical cluster analysis and principal component analysis, it was recognized that head and face characteristics of Muya, Ersu, Baima and Qiang are relatively similar, and that the head and face characteristics of Khmus and Va were relatively close. The Tuva, Buryats and Mongol have the closest head and face characteristics.
Researches on paleodemography contains the researches on stationery parameters and dynamic parameters. The analysis of sex and age structure and the estimate of fertility level of Liangzhu culture cemetery in Jiangzhuang site in Xinghua, Jiangsu were conducted, and the latter was implemented by the method of using n30+/n5+ to estimate crude birth rate(CBR). It was revealed that the sex ratio of Jiangzhuang was 105 which fell well within the normal range. The age-at-death distribution of Jiangzhuang approximated normal distribution by model fitting, which might be associated with the under-enumeration of infants, the problems in adult age estimation and the establishment of the criteria of judging “old age”. By estimating and contrasting the CBRs of Jiangzhuang and other Neolithic human skeleton samples, it was revealed that the fertility level of Jiangzhuang is relatively high, which might be associated with the favorable living environment and the development of civilization. Otherwise, the research also indicated that the experiments of new methods and paying attention to the issue of the representativeness of human skeleton sample were vital for advancing paleodemography.
The jades excavated from Yin Ruins are significant for exploring the culture and technology in late Shang Dynasty. In this paper, we used silica glue to duplicate some perforated jades’ micro-wears from Yin Ruins. The optical microscope and scanning electron microscope were used to observe and analysis the micro-wears systematically. The results show that there were five different micro-wears, including circular grooves, parallel lengthwise grooves, curved rim, oval pits and irregular lengthwise lines. At the same time, according to the characteristics of micro-wears morphology, distribution, integrity and lamination relationship, it is believed that the formation was mainly related to processing and using. This study points out that based on the micro-wears characteristics inside the jade tunnel, it is expected to establish the relationship between micro-wears and process or use; and through the discussion of micro-wears’ formation, it can provide important scientific evidence for the processing, reworking and using of jade, thus profoundly interpreting the cultural connotation of ancient jade.
A physical survey was conducted in Jinuo Mountain Jino Townshipof Jinghong County of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan. The anthropometric traits of 600 adults (279 males and 321 females) were measured, and the Jino physical data measured in the same area 33 years ago were compared with the current physica data. The reasons for the changes of the physical characteristics in the past 35 years were analyzed. The research shows that the stature of Jino is short, the cheekbone is not prominent and the eyefold of the upper eyelid has a high percentage. Nearly 40% of the adults have Mongoloid fold. Most of the opening heights of eyeslits are middle with the external angle higher than the internal angle. Most nasal root height is middle size and with a straight nasal profile, and more straight hair. Jino males and females are brachycephaly, hypsicephalic type, metriocephalic type, euryprosopy, mesorrhiny, middle trunk, mesatiskelic type, broad chest circumference, broad shoulder breadth and medium distance between iliac crests. These characteristics show that the Jino have the physical characteristics of the South Asian type. In the past 35 years, the head length, head breadth, face breadth, bigonial breadth, physiognomic facial height, stature, sitting height, chest circumference, shoulder breadth and body weight of the Jino males and females have increased than the 1982 indices. The changes of the Jino physical characteristics have a certain relationship with the development of local productivity, the improvement of dietary structure and the intensity of physical labor.
Body composition refers to the percentage of body fat, protein, muscle, water, etc. in body weight. A reasonable ratio between these components is important to maintain normal body operations, and with ethnic differences in body composition, this topic is key in anthropological research. Our current research focuses on the relationship between body composition of Chinese adolescents and college students with other physical indicators; in particular there is a lack of comparative research on the Tujia nationality. In this paper, the bioelectrical impedance analysis method was used to compare body composition characteristics of Tujia adults in Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou in order to explore the effects of genetics, environment, diet etc. on body composition. A random sample of 959 (411 males, average age 53.7±14.2 years; 548 females, average age 51.0±13.6 years) was studied. Excel 2007 and SPSS 19.0 were used to conduct ANOVA, Person correlation and independent sample T test analyses. ANOVA results indicated that except for total muscle mass, estimated bone mass, right upper limb muscle mass, and trunk muscle mass, Tujia males from the three regions showed statistically significant (P<0.05) differences among various indicators. Among Tujia women from the three regions, except for body weight, estimated bone mass, total energy metabolism, right upper limb muscle mass, right lower limb muscle mass, and left lower limb fat rate there were statistically significant (P<0.05) differences. According to standardized body fat percentages it was noted that Hubei, Guizhou and Hunan Tujia adults are in the normal range, and that Hunan Tujia women carry their obesity around abdomen, and therefore are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. This result is related to the high standard of living of the Hunan people. Among the three regions, muscle mass in Hubei adults were more developed, with adults in Hunan and Hubei and Guizhou women having a tendency for slightly higher muscle mass in the right limb compred to the left. Guizhou men had similar muscle mass in the lower limbs, and thus it was assumed that bone mass would be higher and bones stronger.
The Paleolithic archaeological field work and systematical excavations in Heilongjiang Province started in the 1930s. Thus far, more than 100 sites or localities have been reported or published in different areas of Heilongjiang Province, mainly for the Upper Paleolithic. A new field survey was conducted in Gannan County in 2017 jointly by the Institute of Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and the Heilongjiang Provincial Archaeology and Cultural Relics Institute. Upper Paleolithic deposits were found in a vast area around Taipinghu Reservoir, along with fine chert resources. One semi-subterranean dwelling was found at the Guanghetun Locality 1. These discoveries indicate large scale human occupations during the Upper Paleolithic period, associated with mature blade and microblade technologies. Two charcoal samples were excavated from the uppermost part of weathered crust of strata at the Guanghetun Locality 1. Radiocarbon dating results suggest that all of the archaeological remains found in our survey are younger than 30000 years. From the surface-collected and excavated specimens in the study area, a typical Upper Paleolithic lithic industry is identified. Chert is utilized as the main material used for the lithic technology of the ancient occupants, followed by siliceous limestone and some other rock types. The shapes of both microblade cores and blade cores are varied, including wedge-shaped, boat-shaped, and conical-shaped cores, etc; modified tools include end scraper, scrapers, unifacial points, bifacial points, modified microblades, etc. Heavy duty tools are not evident in this site or in the surrounding area.
Dental microwear analysis is the study of microscopic scratches and pits that form on teeth as the result of their use. The pattern of microwear on a tooth is distinctive and varies with foods eaten, so can be used as a proxy for diet. Dental microwear therefore has the potential to provide important insights into paleoecology and evolution of extinct forms. This paper introduces the application of dental microwear analysis as a simple and efficient method of diet reconstruction for the fields of bioarchaeology and paleontology. The principal approaches used to relate pattern of microwear to diet will be presented. Further, current understandings of the etiology of dental microwear will be summarized. In addition, methods of texture analysis applied to dental microwear surfaces will be reviewed. Finally, possible directions for future research on dental microwear will be proposed.
Microblade technology was widely distributed in Northeast Asia and North America in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene and research on wedge-shaped core technology has been particularly abundant. This paper briefly reviews the history of research on wedge-shaped cores and then proposes a formal definition of that core type and a system of classification for microblade cores based on the cha?ne opératoire and mental template concepts. The differences between wedge-shaped cores and other microblade cores lie not only in variations in morphology, but also in the strategies of production. Based on our analysis, we propose that flake blank exploitation strategies played an important role in the diffusion of microblade technology in North China.
This paper aims to investigate the population and society in Guanzhuang settlement during Zhou Dynasty in the core area of Central Plains based on bioarchaeological perspective. Crop cultivation and livestock were flourishing. Cropland management and agricultural production were at a higher level. Bone manufacture became specialized and was conducted in a certain workshop. Social stratification existed in Guanzhuang settlement and composition of residents was complex. These social conditions affected the population diet in Guanzhuang settlement. The nobility had higher δ 15N value and ate more meat compared with civilians with lower δ 15N value. Civilians with different burial customs had differences in the diet: People with extended supine burial relied on C4 food, but people with flexed burial ate more C3 food. Some people with flexed burail even ate rice which was not cultivated in Guanzhuang settlement. This situation indicates that people with flexed burial had high mobility and may be external population. Complexity in population structure was related to the social and political turbulence during the late Western Zhou Dynasty to early Spring and Autumn Period.
By reviewing the literatures, the paper summarized the anthropometry application in assessment of overweight/obesity and the prediction of health risk, analyzed and reviewed the advantages and limitations of the body mass index(BMI), body adiposity index(BAI) and visceral adiposity index(VAI), and the like. It is suggested that the different indexes should be chosen with different objects of study and different risk targets predicted. It is important to provide related reference for colleagues and the prevention and treatment of obesity-related diseases in the future.