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    The progress and consideration on the study of site formation processes of early human occupation in China
    PEI Shuwen
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 349-362.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0044
    Abstract110)   HTML30)    PDF (3163KB)(110)       Save

    Understanding site formation processes, an important approach being earliest used in the study on the field of archaeological geology or geoarchaeology, is crucial for interpreting the site integrity and adaptive behaviors adopted by early hominins. Two approaches include behavioral and natural scopes usually be adopted in the research field. Compare to the cultural parameters which human behavior is the main agency on the site formation processes, natural processes often affect the formation of Paleolithic sites and the spatial distribution of their archaeological remains. Natural agency usually includes flowing water which was recognized as a primary disturbing agent affecting artifact assemblages and their concentration.
    It is generally accepted that thousands of Paleolithic sites have been discovered in the past decades, which make China as the most important areas on studying early human evolution and behavioral patterns in the Old World. However, the approaches on the study of site formation processes have not got enough attention in Chinese paleoanthropological research for a long time. For example, lack of the crucial parameter adoption hinders the integrated research on the site formation processes. In the last ten years, the integration of site formation processes inquiry into Paleolithic studies has revolutionized the way archaeologists explain hominin behavior from material remains in Chinese Paleoanthropological research.
    This paper starts with the main sedimentary context of site distributed, which classify the sites into four depositional types such as: fluvio-lacustrine basin, karstic (cave, rock shelter and fissure) area, loess distribution area, and red clay distribution area. After explanation on the sedimentary features of different depositional context which sites buried, main research advancement was reviewed by the author. It should be noted that those research progress on the site formation processes in China are most focus on the natural processes especially evaluate the post-depositional degree of fluvial sedimentary processes impact on the formation of Paleolithic sites and on the integrity of stone artifact assemblages. The main reason why few studies focus on the behavioral agency affect the site formation can be attributed to the difficult of ecological works generalization, cultural features interpretation, and even the sophisticated theory mode selection. In a word, it is a necessity to enhance the crucial parameters selection from different sedimentary context, multi-discipline cooperation, international collaboration, also the new approaches such as GIS technique, archaeological remain refitted, spatial analysis, and experimental approach in the study on the site formation processes in the near future.

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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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    Human evolution of the Early and Middle Pleistocene in China and its relationship with climatic conditions
    YANG Shixia, PEI Shuwen, DENG Chenglong
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 436-453.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0040
    Abstract92)   HTML7)    PDF (10976KB)(60)       Save

    With on-going implementation of palaeoanthropological surveys and excavations, in China the Early and Middle Pleistocene hominin record is accumulating steadily. Although the dates and cultural attributes of some sites are controversial, increasing information allows for the assessment of the effects of climate variability on archaeological site distributions and its influence on hominin behaviours. During the last one million years, there are two major changes in the climate regime, namely the Mid-Pleistocene climate transition(MPT) centered around 1.2-0.7 MaBP and the Mid-Brunhes event (MBE) around 0.4 MaBP. Here, we combine the fossil and archaeological data sets of the Early and Middle Pleistocene and subdivide them into four time frames, i.e., pre-MPT, MPT, pre-MBE and post-MBE. We examine archaeological site distributions across China to determine long-term geographic and behavioural effects on hominin populations before, during and after the two critical climatic events. Changes in the geographic distribution of hominins are demonstrated across the MPT, with significant shifts in the number of sites in high and low latitudes. The appearance of Large Cutting Tools, and new innovations in small tool industries, are key technological changes documented during the MPT. Across the MBE, the distribution of hominins is more extensive in both high and low latitudes. In contrast to earlier periods, post-MBE sites witness significant technological developments, such as the introduction of new stone tool reduction techniques in some sites of Yunnan and Guizhou in South China and improved tool designs at sites such as Dali, in North China. Across the MBE, a series of human fossil evidence indicate that several hominin species may have co-existed as increased morphological diversity is indicated. The Qinling Mountain Range and its surrounding area, at the boundary of North and South China, contained the densest and most continuous human occupations throughout the Early to Middle Pleistocene. Geographic and behavioural shifts in the hominin record challenge traditional views about the long-term, conservative nature of the biological and cultural evolution of hominins in Eastern Asia, and instead demonstrate dynamic responses of populations to ecosystem changes across the Early and Middle Pleistocene.

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    Chronological significance of the mammalian fauna from the Early Pleistocene Shanshenmiaozui site in Nihewan Basin, northern China
    TONG Haowen, ZHANG Bei, CHEN Xi, WANG Xiaomin, SUN Jijia
    Acta Anthropologica Sinica    2021, 40 (03): 469-489.   DOI: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0026
    Abstract59)   HTML4)    PDF (26148KB)(43)       Save

    The fossils of the Nihewan (Nihowan) Fauna (senso stricto) or the Classic Nihewan Fauna derived from diversified sites around the Xiashagou Village located at the northern bank of the Sangganhe (Sangkanho) River. The Nihewan Fauna has been regarded as the type fauna of the Early Pleistocene epoch in northern China, whereas its approximate numerical age has been unresolved for quite a long time; the updated paleomagnetic age is 2.2-1.7 MaBP. Because of the cuts by river and tectonic faults, the stratigraphical correlations among different areas inside the Nihewan Basin remained difficult in the past, which can be definitely attributed to the insufficient fossil discoveries on the southern bank of the river. It’s lucky enough that during the past decade, a new site named Shanshenmiaozui (SSMZ) was recovered and excavated at the edge of the Cenjiawan Platform at the southern bank of the Sangganhe River; totally 9 excavations were conducted at the site, which resulted in the finding of 1526 pieces of mammalian fossils belonging to 25 species (including undetermined species) and 23 of which are the common members of the Nihewan Fauna. Therefore, the Shanshenmiaozui Fauna should share the same age with the Nihewan Fauna, i.e. earlier than 1.7 MaBP. The fossiliferous layer of SSMZ site is slightly higher than the cultural layer at the neighboring Xiaochangliang (XCL) Site, and the result of stratigraphical correlation shows that the Xiaochangliang Site should be older than 1.36 MaBP as currently thought; furthermore, the ages of other sites in the adjacent area also should be reconsidered. In the area around Xiaochangliang site, basal gravels are frequently appearing, but their vertical positions in the strata and the degrees of sorting and rounding are variable; the present authors think the basal gravels are important evidences for site correlations and crucial for paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

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