Table of Content

    15 August 2019, Volume 38 Issue 03
    An archaeological perspective on the origins and evolution of modern humans in China
    GAO Xing, LI Feng, GUAN Ying, ZHANG Xiaoling, John W OLSEN
    2019, 38(03):  317-334.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0039
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    Recent paleoanthropological and Paleolithic archaeological discoveries have drastically altered our theoretical perspectives on modern human origins, evolution and adaptations. China, a vast geographic region in East Asia, has emerged as a hot-spot for such studies. New human fossils and stone tool assemblages have been reported from the area which challenge the “Recent Out-of-Africa” model, based mostly on the African and western Eurasian records. New paleoanthropological research results indicate that early modern humans appeared in South China around 100 kaBP, and might have at least partially evolved from aboriginal populations there. Some archaic Homo sapiens exhibit mosaic or transitional features and possible admixture with Neanderthals and Denisovans. Associated lithic industries exhibit the complexity of early modern human technologies and behaviors. While small flake tools in North China and large pebble tools in South China dominated throughout most of the Pleistocene, beginning from ca. 40 kaBP, a large blade techno-complex appeared at some sites in North China, followed by the emergence of bone tools and personal ornaments in the same area slightly later, indicating possible technological ties with lithic industries in Siberia and Central Asia and possible northwest-to-southeast migrations in northeast Asia during the late Upper Pleistocene. Human fossil remains and archaeological evidence cumulatively suggest that the trajectories of modern human origins and adaptations in China might be different from those of western Eurasia. In this paper, we compile new discoveries and outline progress in research on archaeological studies of the origins and evolution of modern humans in China. We adopt a predominantly archaeological perspective on these critical academic issues, and offer several suggestions for future studies.

    Goals, constraints and challenges of palaeolithic archaeology
    Michael JOCHIM
    2019, 38(03):  335-343.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0034
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    Palaeolithic research can address some of archaeology’s biggest questions, including the origins and spread of modern humans. As a result, research often attracts much public attention and imagination. It is clear, however, that the reconstruction of life in the Palaeolithic faces many problems, both practical in terms of the limitations of the data and interpretive in trying to make sense of the finds. Both experimental archaeology and ethnoarchaeology have proven useful in dealing with some of these problems, but they also emphasize some of the constraints archaeologists face.

    Lithic artifacts excavated from the Jinshuihekou site in the Hanzhong Basin, Shaanxi Province, China
    BIE Jingjing, WANG Shejiang, XIA Nan, LU Huayu, WANG Xianyan, YI Shuangwen, XIA Wenting, ZHANG Gaike, Mathew L FOX, ZHANG Hongyan, ZHUO Haixin, ZHANG Wenchao
    2019, 38(03):  344-361.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0040
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    The Jinshuihekou site, discovered in the 1980s, is located in the southern piedmont of the Qinling Mountains. This site is on the fourth terrace of the Jinshui River, a left tributary of the Hanjiang River in central China. From June 2014 to February 2015, three Paleolithic localities, including the Jinshuihekou site, were excavated near Jinshui town as part of the national key construction project: the Western Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, also known as the “Hanjiang River to Weihe River Water Diversion Project”. An area of 370m2 was excavated yielding 1210 stone artifacts. The early hominins at this site mainly selected cobbles/pebbles from fluvial gravels for tool knapping; predominately made from quartz and quartzite, followed by siliceous limestone, quartzite sandstone and granite. The principal flake knapping method is hard hammer percussion, and considerable components of the artifacts still retain features of its original use without the need for modification. Analyses of the lithic assemblage indicate that the retouched tools are comprised of small tools made on small flakes such as scrapers, notches, awls, and heavy-duty tools such as choppers, picks, and heavy-duty scrapers. The characteristics of the lithic assemblage resemble the Longyadong Middle Pleistocene cave site in the Luonan Basin in the southern Qinling Mountains but with higher proportion of heavy-duty tools. Based on the post-IR elevated temperature IRSL(pIRIR 290°C) dating method, the layer which buried stone artifacts at Jinshuihekou is earlier than 150 ka. The Jinshuihekou site restore the missing part of the Paleolithic cultural sequence in the Hanzhong Basin and provides new materials for studying the behavior and Paleolithic technology of hominins in the catchment of the Jinshui River and the Qinling Mountains region.

    Bone needles in China and their implications for Late Pleistocene hominin dispersals
    Luc DOYON
    2019, 38(03):  362-372.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0033
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    In a recent article, a team of Chinese, French, Canadian, and Czech researchers led by d’Errico suggested the earliest bone needles were manufactured in Siberia and northern China, and were invented independently in both regions. Here, the Chinese archaeological record is reviewed to provide more details on this claim. The occurrence of this tool type is correlated with the associated lithic technologies and the environmental conditions in order to investigate the dispersal events that took place during the second half of the Late Pleistocene. The review suggests the manufacture of needles represents an indigenous innovation that appears in northern China circa 31 kaBP on the onset of the Chinese Late Palaeolithic alongside stone tools attributed to the core-and-flake technology. As of 25 kaBP, a new form of needle is introduced in the archaeological record. These needles are flat and they appear with stone tools attributed to the microblade technology. This evidence likely signals the migration of a populations bringing with them blade technologies from western Eurasia. At the end of the Pleistocene, bone needles are more diversified, which suggests they were used in a variety of tasks. During the late-Tardiglacial, bone needles are found in northern China both in contexts that yielded microblade technology as well as core-and-flake technology with ceramic. In southern China, the first bone needles appear alongside core-and-flake technology around 12 kaBP. The first appearance of this tool type in southern China could either be the result of a convergent innovation or the southward migration of prehistoric populations that lived in northern China prior to the Last Glacial Maximum. South of the Yangzi river, bone needles are manufactured at the end of the Pleistocene in contexts attributed to the core-and-flake technology with ceramic. The presence of the same toolkit in both northern and southern China at the end of the Pleistocene, i.e., core-and-flake technology with ceramic and bone needles, raises the question of potential long-distance population movements and cultural influences across North and South China at the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene.

    Chronology and characteristics of the Upper Palaeolithic blade tool industry in Korea
    LEE Heonjong, LEE Sangseok
    2019, 38(03):  373-388.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0037
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    This article describes the regional characteristics of blade tool assemblages in Korea and presents a general overview of human migrations into the Korean Peninsula based on recent research. Paleolithic sites with blade tool assemblages are rare in East Asia except for the Altai and other regions of Siberia, and Shuidonggou in North China. At the end of 1990, the remains of a typical blade tool industry were found at the Koreri site, Milyang City. For the last ten years, several important sites have been found in South Korea. Around 40 kaBP, blade tool assemblages appeared in the Korean Peninsula while the pebble tool tradition still existed in the early Upper Paleolithic. Most heavy-weight tools disappeared at typical blade tool sites. These consistent characteristics demonstrate that the blade tool industry was probably the result of migration. There is no evidence that a microblade industry(25~10 kaBP) replaced the blade tool industry in Korea. Rather, these two cultures were probably produced by different populations who migrated into the Korean peninsula. When groups using microblades rapidly spread throughout the entire Korean peninsula, the blade tool industry still coexisted from ca. 25 to 15 kaBP.

    Ritualistic cranial surgery in the Qijia Culture (2300-1500 BC), Gansu, China
    Jenna M DITTMAR, ZHAN Xiaoya, Elizabeth BERGER, MAO Ruilin, WANG Hui, ZHAO Yongsheng, YE Huiyuan
    2019, 38(03):  389-397.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0035
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    Evidence of cranial surgery, in the form of trepanations, has been found at prehistoric archaeological sites from all over the world. Within this large body of evidence, it is clear that trepanations vary in size, location and the reason for which they were performed. Numerous trepanations have been discovered at archaeological sites across China, but very few have come from Qijia Culture (2300-1500 BC) sites in Northwest China. This research describes a well-healed trepanation on an adult male individual(M179:R2) from the Mogou site and compares it to contemporaneous examples from China that date from 3000~0 BC in order to elucidate how and why this procedure was performed. A small circular opening with slightly irregular, but well-healed, margins was identified on the left parietal bone, immediately posterior to the coronal suture. The characteristics of the lesion suggest that the scraping method was employed to create the opening. Unfortunately, the advanced stage of healing made the identification of the specific instrument used in the trepanation impossible. The characteristics of the incision and the archaeological context led the authors to propose that the trepanation on M179:R2 was performed as part of a magico-ritual, rather than for a non-ritual medical purpose. This is supported by the presence of multiple individuals, mainly men, from the Mogou site with similar well-healed trepanations.

    Effects of two separation methods of crown and root on enamel thickness measurements
    PAN Lei
    2019, 38(03):  398-406.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2018.0028
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    In computer-aided dental anthropology it is sometimes a regular process to separate the crown from the roots. In order to assess the methodological impact of sectioning crown and roots for the computation of enamel thickness, we compared two digital approaches(separating the crown from the root using the cervical line or a basal plane) for the 3D analysis of enamel thickness on a total number of 82 hominin lower postcanine teeth, including South African fossil hominins(n=26), Neanderthals(n=22), and modern humans(n=34). According to paired t-test, no significant difference is observed in the enamel thickness values between two methods, but subsequent inter-taxa comparisons reveal different results in average enamel thickness(AET) in premolars. Separation based on a basal plane is more operator-dependent, not practical to sinuous cervical margin and might mask between-group distinctions. Besides providing a set of raw data for further investigation, this study reports thinner premolar RET in Neanderthals compared with modern H. sapiens and therefore support the notion that Neanderthal has generally thinner relative enamel. Our results show that, for studies aimed at discriminating among different species, using the cervical margin to isolate the crown from the root is a practical option as it considers the anatomical nature of tooth, especially for those specimens(such as anterior dentition, or molars of Pan and Gorilla) with steep cervical line.

    Geographic information system in zooarchaeology: A novel technique in analysis of the faunal remains from the Ma’anshan site, Guizhou, China
    ZHANG Yue, ZHANG Shuangquan, GAO Xing
    2019, 38(03):  407-418.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0038
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    Geographic Information System has now found its way into many fields of archaeological research; however, its integration with zooarchaeology is only occasionally practiced, especially in China. In this study, we tentatively adopt this technique in an analysis of the faunal remains from the Ma’anshan site(ca.43-16 kaBP), Guizhou Province of China. Associated with thousands of stone artifacts and dozens of formalized bone tools, this site is exceptional in its excellent preservation of a fairly large bone assemblage. With the assistance of a geoprocessing tool from ArcGIS’s Spatial Analyst extension, skeletal remains of Class III animals(including Bubalus sp. and Megatapirus augustus) from the site are quantified in bulk with maximum precision; meanwhile, patterns in bone element abundance of the two species are visually accentuated. The current study indicates that GIS can be a unique and most potent tool in standardizing and simplifying procedures in analyzing animal bones, especially those of extremely large collections from the Paleolithic sites of China.

    The path to cultural modernity and behavioral hyperplasticity: A synthesis of a lecture series at the IVPP, Beijing
    Nicholas J. CONARD
    2019, 38(03):  419-445.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0036
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    This paper provides a schematic summary of the topics during the lecture series by Professor Nicholas J. Conard at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, focusing on the methodological issues and researches at four topics:1) Schöningen, 2) Sibudu and other Middle Stone Age(MSA) sites in South Africa, 3) excavations at Tönchesberg, Wallertheim and other Neanderthal sites, 4) the caves of the Swabian Jura and the origins of art and music. Knowledge of excavation methods of his team, archaeological material in a broader context, and research achievements based upon the sites he is working on were shared by the lecture series. The lectures were also intended to foster international cooperation in teaching and research in future.

    Morphological studies on Wuzhutai tooth, Xintai of Shandong Province
    SUN Chengkai, SUN Xiaoling, ZHOU Mi, LIU Liqun, XING Song
    2019, 38(03):  446-459.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2018.0041
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    Recent fossil findings have complicated the scenario of East Asian modern human evolution and dispersal in Late Pleistocene, necessitating more fossil from this period to better elucidate it. In 1966, a lower molar of fossil human was recovered at Wuzhutai, Xintai of Shandong province, and Wu and Zong reported it in 1973. However, there is no further detailed study on this tooth afterwards. The present study will reassess its morphologies using grading system of dental non-metrics, geometric morphometric analysis of the crown outline shape, measurement of two- and three- dimensional (2D and 3D) enamel thickness, and visualization of 3D enamel thickness distribution. We aim at a further understanding of morphological variation of East Asian Late Pleistocene hominins. The results show that the dental morphologies of Wuzhutai tooth generally fit into the spectrum of modern human variations. However, its trigonid crest, Y pattern of occlusal groove arrangement, and high-degree protostylid are more likely found in Homo erectus or Neanderthals rather than in modern human. Compared with the other East Asian Late Pleistocene hominins, the combination of traits expressed by Wuzhutai tooth is unique and expanding the known morphological diversity. The future study could try to acquire the chronological age of Wuzhutai hominin, in order to better add it into the evolutionary sequence of modern human evolution.

    A simulated experiment of use efficiency of the limestone lithics: As an example of the Yumidong site in Wushan, Chongqing
    HE Cunding, ZHAO Zhuo, YU Jinsheng, WU Chan, HU Xin, WU Yan
    2019, 38(03):  460-472.  doi:10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2018.0042
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    :In this paper, the Yumidong site in Wushan, Chongqing is studied. With the help of simulated experiments on the duplication and the effectiveness of the use of limestone in the Yumidong site, we obtained results which indicate that some limestone shows good applicability in knapping and use in routine cutting, digging and other behavioral activities, which shows good functional utility and efficiency. Comparing the experimental specimens and the lithics found in the site, we argue that “utilized tools” created by the direct use of preferred natural blanks are present. This type of wear is mainly concentrated on heavy tools, similar to choppers and picks, but the retouched tools in the assemblage are more effective and durable than such utilized pieces. Pointed tools are easy to damaged when they are applied to hard objects due to structural instability and uneven stress exerted on the piece. This situation is consistent with the higher damage rate of excavated pointed tools. Re-shaping the proximal part of the tool for holding is very necessary during use. It provides a reasonable explanation for the universal existence of repaired proximal ends in the lithics founded in the site.