Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (05): 804-815.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2021.0077

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Reduction strategy of the microblade cores from the Xiqiaoshan site in Guangdong

YANG Shixia1,2,3(), HUAN Faxiang1,4, WANG Hong5, WU Zhenyu6, LU Xiaohong6, LI Jingya1,7   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    2. Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    3. State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, CAS, Xi’an 710061
    4. Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081
    5. Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275
    6. Nanhai Museum, Foshan 528211
    7. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2021-05-06 Revised:2021-07-22 Online:2022-10-15 Published:2022-10-13


Development and spread of the microblade technology are topics of interest and debate intense research relating to the cultural diffusion and ecological adaptation from the late Pleistocene to the early Holocene. In the 1950s, a large amount of microblade products at the Xiqiaoshan lithic manufacturing site located in the Pearl River Delta region was discovered, and reshaped our understanding of the geographical extent of microblade technology. When these microblades were first recovered, this tropical microblade industry was initially described by several scholars. The early publications mainly focused on morphological characteristics of the microblade products, and subsequently very little further research has been carried out. Now we need an in-depth analysis to interpret the reduction strategies of these microblade cores to inform our discussions of cultural diffusion and population migrations. Xiaoqiaoshan, about 40 km southwest of Guangzhou, is an old volcano mountain on the deltaic plain of Pearl River Delta. As Xiaoqiaoshan is rich in raw materials, including different kind of igneous rocks and chert, it is a manufacturing center for the early Holocene habitants in the region. Earlier reports released the results of radiocarbon dating on the shells around 7000-5900 BP. The Guye residential base site is just 10 km to the west of Xiqiaoshan, and provide some new informations. Different from the Xiqiaoshan site, the Guye site is a habitation place and its pottery and seeds are more conducive to dating accurately by radiocarbon method. The Guye site could also provide more details on the contemporaneous remains and help us to know how the microblades were used in this tropical area. The new dating results show that the microblades were used around 5900~5500 BP. All the available data show that the microblade industry appeared in tropical area of South China during the Middle Holocene. In this paper, 343 microblade cores from the Museum of Sun Yat-sen University were analyzed. They are all collected during the archaeological surveys in 1980’s. Based on the stone materials, blank types, striking platform types, striking platform quantities, and debitage surfaces, we established the models of reduction strategies of microblade technology at the Xiqiaoshan site. Through observing the microblade cores and the schemes of reduction strategies, this study reveals some of the main characteristics of the Xiqiaoshan microblade industry: Both the flake and chunk blanks were expediently used as microblade cores; the flake blanks are more controlled to form wedge-shaped cores, and with less dimensional variation; as the chunk blanks were shaped according to the sizes of raw material nodules, they are various in sizes; the multi-platforms reduction is the most prominent feature of the Xiqiaoshan microblade reduction, since microblade cores with double and even more platforms are rare in the regions of traditionally well-developed microblade industry (Northeast China, North China, Northwest China and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau). This work not only summarized the characteristics of the microblade technology of the Xiqiaoshan site, but also compared it with the microblade techniques of other sites. The results of the current research enriched our knowledge of this tropical microblade industry and shed light on further understanding of the population migrations and cultural diffusion during the Middle Holocene.

Key words: Xiqiaoshan, Microblade cores, Reduction strategy, Technological origin, Cultural diffusion

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