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    Discussion on the Mesolithic Age
    Chen Chun
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    1995, 14 (01): 82-90.  
    Abstract119)      PDF (2869KB)(373)       Save
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    Chronology of lithic artifact sites and hominin distribution from Early to Middle Pleistocene in China
    LU Ying, SUN Xuefeng, WANG Shejiang, LU Huayu
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 411-426.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0038
    Abstract110)   HTML17)    PDF (17485KB)(319)       Save

    Hominin fossils and Paleolithic sites of Early and Middle Pleistocene in China can provide information to understand hominin behavioral and living environments, while a chronological framework is the basis for analyzing hominin evolution, migration, and relationship with climate change during the Pleistocene era. In the past 20 years, hominin records in China steadily increased because of the Paleolithic excavation and the advancement of dating techniques, providing amplified materials for establishing age frameworks. This study analyzed 95 Early to Middle Pleistocene sites with numerical age estimates. The distribution patterns are shown under the loess-paleosol chronology constraints and a relatively continuous chronology of hominin activities is established from approximately 2 MaBP to the last interglacial period. These sites are mainly distributed in four regions of the Nihewan Basin and the adjacent Zhoukoudian, Qingling Mountains Range, and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and South China, where the maximum intensity of hominin activities occurred in order during the Early Pleistocene, Middle Pleistocene, and in the late part of Middle Pleistocene, respectively. Various excavated sites still lack chronological study or encounter issues in dating. Therefore, improvement of chronological study is necessary.

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    Phylogenetic reconstruction of Gigantopithecus blacki using palaeoproteomic analysis
    WANG Wei
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 717-726.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0047
    Abstract278)   HTML12)    PDF (483KB)(304)       Save

    Gigantopithecus blacki is the largest hominoid that ever lived in southern China during Pleistocene epoch. Based on its highly specialized dentognathic anatomy, especially extremely large dentition and mandible size, this giant species is estimated to have a body mass of at least 200 kg. So far, chronological and biostratigraphic evidences indicate that G. blacki occupation ranged from 2 MaBP to 0.3 MaBP. The origins and evolution of this animal are controversial for long time, due to the absence of geological fossil record in late Miocene to Pliocene. In Nature (2019) we reported a proteome study on tooth enamel of G. blacki in Chuifeng cave of early Pleistocene (1.9 MaBP) in Bubing Basin, southern China[1]. We identified no endogenous proteins from the dentine, but instead recovered an ancient enamel proteome composed of 409 unique peptides matching 6 endogenous proteins. We demonstrate that G. blacki is a sister clade to orangutans (genus Pongo) with a common ancestor about 12~10 MaBP. This is the first time that molecular evidence is retrieved from such ancient fossil in the subtropical region, further suggesting that the study of ancient proteins will provide strong support for the exploration of the origin and evolution of extinct species, including hominins. In addition, this paper will also briefly review the history of phylogenetic and divergence discussion of Gigantopithecus and introduce the proceeding of the ancient proteins study.

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    Physical characteristics of the Buriats in China
    LI Yong-lan; ZHENG Lian-bin; LU Shun-hua; DONG Qigeqi; LIU Hai-yan; XIE Bin; ZHANG Xing-hua
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2011, 30 (04): 357-367.  
    Abstract149)      PDF (591KB)(302)       Save
    Buriats are ethnic groups of cross-border distribution, with those of China living in Inner Mongolia. In August 2007 we investigated the physical characteristics of 310 Buriat adults ( 152 males and 158 females), with the following results. In ethnic groups of the North Asian type of Mongoloid, the percentage of eye-fold of the upper eyelid is 49. 34% in males and 58. 23% in feamles. The percentage of Mongoloid Fold is lower with 52. 63% in males and 48. 10% in females. The colors of eye and skin are lighter. The typical physical characteristics of Buriats include hyperbrachycephaly, hypsicephalic type, mesocephaly, mesoprosopy, mesorrhiny, broad chest circumference, medium shoulder breadth, narrow distance between iliac crests, mesatiskelic type, medium length of trunk and squat-type. Euryprosopy is of the highest frequency in the Buriats. Typical physical characteristics of males are super-medium stature, while those of female are of medium stature. The physical characteristics of Buriats belong to a branch of the Central Asian type of the South Asian type of Mongoloid, which also includes Eurasian origins. The physical characteristics of the Buriats are close to ethnic groups of Mongols, but there are also some distinct differences between these two groups.
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    Application of dental microwear in diets reconstruction
    HUA Licheng, Peter S UNGAR
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (02): 292-306.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0044
    Abstract102)   HTML7)    PDF (1451KB)(298)       Save

    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.

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    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 509-510.  
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    Enamel-dentine junction shape and enamel thickness distribution of East Asian Middle Pleistocene hominin lower second molars
    XING Song, ZHOU Mi, PAN Lei
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 521-531.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0019
    Abstract186)   HTML20)    PDF (1105KB)(276)       Save

    Morphological diversity has been revealed in the cranial, mandibular, and dental materials of East Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins, and the taxonomy of later members is uncertain. In order to further apprehend the morphological variability of East Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins and provide evidence for the taxonomy of the later members, the present study conducted three-dimensional morphometric analyses, including morphometric map of lateral enamel thickness and diffeomorphic surface matching of enamel-dentine junction (EDJ), on the lower second molars. The results indicate that: 1) East Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins could be distinguished from both Neanderthals and modern human; 2) East Asian late Middle Pleistocene hominins displayed special distribution pattern of lateral enamel thickness and a more progressive EDJ shape relative to mid-Middle Pleistocene Homo erectus. The present study quantifies two important morphologies and their variability, i.e., distribution pattern of enamel thickness and EDJ shape, in addition to the individual dental traits studied by previous works. It will provide further insight into the taxonomies of East Asian late Middle Pleistocene hominins and help designating isolated teeth from the same period into their correct morphological groups.

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    Fire for hominin survivals in prehistory
    GAO Xing
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (03): 333-348.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0008
    Abstract299)   HTML56)    PDF (675KB)(256)       Save

    The paper made an in-depth review on the history of academic research on hominin use of fire. It discussed the significance of fire-use to human evolution and development, presented different hypotheses on the origins of controlled use of fire by human ancestors, and used a series of case-studies to demonstrate the way fire-use evidences were collected and analyzed, and the complicated developmental process of fire-use in human history. Controlled use of fire is a unique behavior and capacity of human beings, and it has played an essential role on hominid survival and evolution. The use of fire led to cooked foods and made nutrition more easily be digested, which in turn brought about a series of biological adjustments and changes in demography, behavioral patterns, survival strategies and social structures to our species. Fire helped hominins procure more resources and modify physical properties of imperative materials, such as heat treatment on lithic raw materials, and gradually brought about the invention of pottery and metal utensils, and eventually human civilization. The history of human-fire interaction is a long and tortuous process, from the occasional use of natural fire, controlled use of fire on and off for hundreds of thousands of years, effective preservation of fire seeds, the making of fire and habitual use of fire, to the omnipresent, indispensable and complex ways of fire-use today. It has been proposed that hominid fire-use history began with the emergence of Homo erectus, but the current available reliable evidence pointed to the time node of ca. 1.5 MaBP. The detection and verification of fire-use evidence of early stage are difficult and challenging, requiring delicate and detailed field excavation and recording, high-resolution taphonomic and spatial information, and all applicable analyses with state-of-the-art technologies. Possible factors of natural agencies in producing fire remains, such as natural fire and post-depositional disturbance, have to be evaluated and terminated. Only after such careful data collection and comprehensive analysis, the evidence presented and conclusions reached can be convincing and accepted.

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    Endocranial anatomy of the Ziyang 1 human skull
    WU Xiujie, YAN Yi
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 511-520.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0024
    Abstract220)   HTML32)    PDF (1494KB)(240)       Save

    Although the specific location is not clear and its dating is still debated, the Ziyang human fossil has attracted extensive attention from academic circles because it is the first almost complete human skull fossil found after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. For a long time, the research on the Ziyang skull was limited to only external morphology and measurements using traditional methods. In order to better understand the evolutionary stage of the Ziyang hominid, a high-resolution industrial CT scanner was used to analyze its internal anatomy, and 3D virtual reconstructions of its bone structure, frontal sinus, bony labyrinth, pneumatization of mastoid air cells, and endocast were created and analyzed. CT images of the bone structure shows that the diploë is very thick—much thicker than the outer and inner layers. This supports the previous identification results of the Ziyang individual over 50 years old. The frontal sinus of the Ziyang is in the shape of a leaf, bilaterally located on the inner and upper orbital areas, with surface areas on the left and right of 1780 mm2and 2910mm2, respectively. The size and proportion of the Ziyang semicircular canals of the bony labyrinth are different from Neandertals, but are in the ranges of those from Late Pleistocene Homo sapiens and recent modern humans. The pneumatization of mastoid cells was in pneumatic type, and almost occupied the entire mastoid process with pneumatic cavities. Based on the 3D virtual reconstruction of the endocast, the cranial capacity of the Ziyang skull was estimated at around 1250 mL. Although the endocast is small in all measurements, most of the brain morphology as well as the width-height index and the parietal lobe-length index were all within the variation range of modern humans, which are different from those of Homo erectus and Pleistocene archaic humans. The internal anatomy of the Ziyang skull retains a few original features, including the two occipital lobes that are prominently backwardly convex, and the cerebral fossa, which is larger and deeper than the cerebellar fossa. These two features are different from Holocene humans but are similar to Pleistocene early modern humans.

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    Ancient DNA capture techniques and genetic study progress of early southern China populations
    WANG Tianyi, ZHAO Dongyue, ZHANG Ming, QIAO Shiyu, YANG Fan, WAN Yang, YANG Ruowei, CAO Peng, LIU Feng, FU Qiaomei
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 680-694.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0059
    Abstract409)   HTML96)    PDF (2604KB)(237)       Save

    Substantial development of the ancient DNA capture techniques allows for obtaining DNA from a wide range of materials, including bone and environmental sediments. Moreover, effective endogenous DNA fragments are also obtainable from low-latitude regions with poor preservation conditions, greatly enriching the material sources for ancient DNA research. This paper summarizes and discusses this new technology in two main aspects: 1) it summarizes and presents the potential application of this technology; and 2) it reviews the knowledge gained from the application of this new technology to the study of ancient genomes. Specifically, this paper focuses on the study of ancient genomes from southern China and covers three points. First, we reveal the new insights gained from the study of ancient genomes. Second, we provide an in-depth analysis of the differences among ancient genomes of early populations in southern China. Third, we discuss the use of ancient DNA capture technology in successfully obtaining high quality mitochondrial genomic information from four individuals (3446-3180 cal BP) of Dayin Cave site in Yunnan Province.

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    Study on the relationship between environmental change and human evolution: Evidence from mammalian tooth enamel carbon and oxygen stable isotope analysis
    XU Zhe, MA Jiao, PEI Shuwen
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 454-468.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0037
    Abstract157)   HTML5)    PDF (3587KB)(233)       Save

    The relationship among early human evolution, diffusion, technological development, and natural environment has always been the front and focus of academic attention. This paper reviews the research history, principle and sampling methods of enamel carbon and oxygen stable isotope analysis in the study of the relationship between environmental change and early human evolution. At the same time, it introduces the relevant research progress of different scholars using mammalian enamel carbon and oxygen stable isotope analysis method in exploring the relationship between early human evolution and environment. In this way, the authors also pointed out the case study of the environmental mechanism in the process of the transition from the early human Oldowan technology to Acheulean technology in East Africa. In addition, it should be pointed out that North China, as the most concentrated evidence of early human spread to and occupied in East Asia, display a variety of adaptation strategies. However, to explore the environmental mechanism of the early human evolution and adaptive behavior, there has been a lack of evidence of effective climate and environmental information from the site context. Therefore, using stable isotope analysis of mammalian enamel to explore the relationship between environmental change and early human technological evolution has a broad prospective in China. Furthermore, the potential of research materials, research areas and related scientific research are also proposed by the authors in the current paper.

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    Progress and issues of chronological studies of human fossil sites in China
    GE Junyi, DENG Chenglong, SHAO Qingfeng, PEI Shuwen, TANG Ruiping, TU Hua, GAO Xing
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 393-410.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0061
    Abstract91)   HTML20)    PDF (12611KB)(232)       Save

    The abundant ancient human remains in China provide important basic evidence and data for the study of the human origin, migration and evolution in East Asia or even the world. However, based on the compilation and statistical analysis of the published chronological data of more than 2000 Paleolithic and human fossil sites, we surprisingly found that most of these sites in China have never been dated, and less than 20% of them have carried out dating work. In addition, only about 10% of these sites have relatively reliable chronological data, but only with a small proportion have even carried out cross-dating with multiple dating methods. For more than 80 sites where human fossils were unearthed, the geochronometry data of more than a half still remain controversial. Here, we conducted a detailed analysis of the common complex syn-deposition and post-deposition reworking phenomena in some paleolithic and human fossil sites, especially the cave sites, and discussed the issues of the insufficient dating platform and geochronological researchers in China, the archaeological excavation process, and the chronological sampling and dating methodology, as well the possible ill effects on the chronological study of the Paleolithic and human fossils sites in China by them. Then, possible measures and suggestions for the future improvement in anthropological chronology research in China have been proposed. We hoped that these improving suggestions may attract more attention and deeper thinking for the perspectives of this research field.

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    Progress and prospects on osteological study of ancient human remains in China
    HE Jianing
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (02): 165-180.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0016
    Abstract269)   HTML65)    PDF (798KB)(213)       Save

    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.

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    Genetic distances estimated on the basis of HLA
    Zhao Tongmao, Zhang Gongliang, Yuan Yida, Du Ruofu
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    1984, 3 (02): 165-170.  
    Abstract62)      PDF (333KB)(209)       Save
    The genetic distances between 17 populations were computed by Nei's method (1978) and a phylogenetic tree of these populations was constructed on the basis of genetic distances by the unweighted pair-group method of clustering (Sneath and Sokal, 1963). The results of present study agree with those obtained on the basis of gene frequencies of red cell blood group systems. There is a parallel relationship between genetic distances and the geographic distances of 17 populations.
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    Classification and analysis of micro wears in the jade tunnels of Yin Ruins
    YANG Luya, ZHU Jian, YUE Chaolong, TANG Jigeng
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (02): 249-260.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0058
    Abstract112)   HTML8)    PDF (10321KB)(187)       Save

    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.

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    A study of the mitochondrial genome of ancient inhabitants from the Latuotanggu cemetery, Tibet, China
    DING Manyu, HE Wei, WANG Tianyi, Shargan Wangdue, ZHANG Ming, CAO Peng, LIU Feng, DAI Qingyan, FU Qiaomei
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (01): 1-11.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0078
    Abstract259)   HTML74)    PDF (689KB)(175)       Save

    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.

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    Ancient mitogenomes reveals Holocene human population history in the Nenjiang River valley
    LI Chunxiang, ZHANG Fan, MA Pengcheng, WANG Lixin, CUI Yinqiu
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 695-705.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0058
    Abstract187)   HTML23)    PDF (2962KB)(173)       Save

    The Nenjiang River valley is one of the most important settlements for ancient Chinese people in northeast China. Archaeological research demonstrates that the inhabitants had practiced mixed hunting-gathering-fishing since the Neolithic Age, only began to engage in animal husbandry and limited millet cultivation until the late Neolithic Age and early Bronze Age. A problem remained about whether it was a transfer of culture and technology or if it involved the migration of people who experimented with animal husbandry and limited millet cultivation and then brought them to Nenjiang River valley. Here we successfully sequenced 24 complete mitochondrial DNA genomes of 11000 to 2000-year-old humans from the Nenjiang River Valley. The results show that the Bronze / Iron Age populations of Nenjiang River valley matrilineal received partial contribution from the populations of the West Liao River, despite some level of continuity between Neolithic Age groups and Bronze / Iron Age. Combining paleoclimatology, archaeology, and linguistics, we estimate that the ancient people of West Liao River had migrated to the Nenjiang River valley carried their cultural techniques and languages between 4,000 and 3,000 years ago.

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    Discussions on the excavation and recording system of Paleolithic sites
    ZHANG Yueshu, LI Feng, WANG Xiaomin, CHEN Fuyou, GAO Xing
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (02): 181-193.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0075
    Abstract176)   HTML27)    PDF (2232KB)(165)       Save

    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.

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    Inferring the locomotor behavior of fossil hominoids from phalangeal curvature using a novel method: Lufengpithecus as a case study
    ZHANG Yingqi, Terry HARRISON, JI Xueping
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2020, 39 (04): 532-554.   DOI: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0061
    Abstract130)   HTML11)    PDF (3300KB)(164)       Save

    Phalangeal curvature has long been used to infer locomotor behavior in fossil primates. Several methods, such as radius of curvature, included angle (IA), normalized curvature moment arm (NCMA), and high-resolution polynomial curve fitting (HR-PCF), have been employed to quantify and compare phalangeal curvature. However, each method has theoretical or technical limitations in the degree to which they are able to accurately quantify phalangeal curvature, and these undermine the applicability and utility of these methods. A novel method of analyzing phalangeal curvature, based on 4th order polynomial curve fitting on geometric morphometric landmark data (GM-PCF), is described here as an alternative method. GM-PCF avoids the problems with previously employed methods and provides a more accurate representation of phalangeal curvature. It uses normalized phalangeal curve height (NPCH) as a quantitative indicator of phalangeal curvature, and depicts the average normalized phalangeal curve for qualitative comparison of curvature. Furthermore, it provides additional information about phalangeal proportions that are crucial for interpreting the functional relationships of phalangeal curvature. GM-PCF is also capable of dealing with incomplete phalanges. To test the utility of the new method, fifteen groups of extant anthropoid primates are used as a reference sample for comparison with two species of Miocene hominoids from China, Lufengpithecus lufengensis and Lufengpithecus hudienensis. The results of the GM-PCF analysis are used to infer the most likely locomotor behavior of the fossil hominoids.

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    Remains of human fire-use: an overview of Paleolithic hearth and human fire-use behavior
    ZHOU Zhen-yu; GUAN Ying; WANG Chun-xue; GAO Xing
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2012, 31 (01): 24-40.  
    Abstract53)      PDF (975KB)(161)       Save
    Fire utilization and control is considered as a distinguished characteristic of human beings within the evolutionary history. Hearth is the material representation of this characteristic, which is one of the most vital archaeological remains of ancient occupants. However, in the prehistoric time, especially in the Old Stone Age, because of the functional, size, shape, and the duration time varieties, hearths are diverse in dissimilar sites. In our study, we define the hearth as intentionally used, maintained and controlled fire, regardless of the physical structure or the duration.
    Hearth remains play a considerable role in the study of the evolution of human behaviors, the innovation of ancient diet, the development of social formation, and the interaction of human and the environment. In this paper, we review the published achievement of hearth study regard of types, functions, and the human behavioral interpretations.
    In the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, hearth is hard to be preserved, even the unearthed ones are normally not distinguished and defined. Only in Zhoukoudian Loc.1 (Beijing), Jinniushan Cave (Liaoning) and Longyadong Cave (Shaanxi) sites were found hearth remains. While in the Early Upper Pleistocene, more hearths were discovered in archaeological contexts, although rarely be systematic studied. Zhoukoudian Loc.15 (Beijing), Huanglongdong Cave (Hubei), Gezidong Cave (Liaoning), and the like, are all notable with defined earth hearths and the associated remains, such as burnt bones and charcoals. Until the last stage of Pleistocene, which is associated with Late Paleolithic period, the adaptability of human beings was dramatically enhanced, as a result, the surviving mode subsequently varied. Therefore, fire-use activity became to be common and universal. One of the most notable sites from which distinguished hearth remains were found is Hutouliang open air site (Hebei). In Zhijidong Cave site (Henan), Dahe site (Yunnan), Shuidonggou site (Ningxia), Xishan site (Jilin), Chuandong Cave (Guizhou), Heimahe site (Qinghai), Shizitan (Shanxi), earth hearths were also found in situ. These finding provide abundant of information of fire use and management in East Asia during the Pleistocene.
    Based on the ethnographic record, prehistoric hearths are divided into two types: the low-investment category, covering the open hearths which is basically a shallow hole in the ground and set fire inside; and the high-investment category, which refer to any other type beyond low-investment category, including structured hearth and oven.
    The hearth functions are strongly related to the daily activities of ancient occupants. Therefore, hearth could be used for multiple purposes, including cooking, sleeping by, giving warmth and light and acting as the point around which people relax, chat, social interaction, or perform ceremonies.
    Hearth study would bring great significance to Paleolithic archaeology. As the product of comprehensive human behaviors, hearth does not only yield burnt soil, charcoal, ash, etc, but also provide the remains of the ancient cooking. These remnant could considerably help us in paleodiet reconstruction, and the pursuit of the hunting and gathering activities; the distribution and variety of hearth forms could offer the information of the movement of ancient population; meanwhile, the examination of charcoal and ash could help to figure out the fuel, and subsequently indicate the paleoenvironment, speculate the adaptability of ancient occupants.
    However, there are several limitations of hearth study. First of all, hearth found in archaeological context is normally incomplete or destroyed, which takes a lot of information away; secondly, hearth with a very short duration in the temporary or seasonal camps are very hard to be preserved and defined. Most of hearths were destroyed during the post-deposit process. Thus, when estimating the properties and functions of a hearth remain, these factors should be considered, while the subjective speculation should be avoided; thirdly, the post-deposition and contamination issues could mislead the researchers and disturb our estimation.
    In China, sites with hearths are abundant within large time range including Early and Late Paleolithic period; the sites were recovered in both open air and cave area; the types and forms of hearths are also various. Recent years, with the refining of excavation methods, more and more intact hearths were found. These materials provide the great potential and perspectives of hearth study, and would give great contribute to the interpretation of human behaviors evolution.
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