Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (02): 248-259.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0005

• Excavation / Investigation Reports • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Excavation report of the Yanling paleolithic site in the Luonan Basin, Shaanxi Province

LI Jiameng1,2,3(), WANG Shejiang1,2(), SUN Xuefeng4, LU Huayu4, ZHANG Xiaobing5, ZHANG Hongyan4, ZHANG Gaike6, XIA Wenting7, BIE Jingjing1,2,3   

  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. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4. School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023
    5. Museum of Luonan County, Luonan 726100
    6. Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Xi’an 710054
    7. School of History and Administration, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500
  • Received:2022-01-06 Revised:2022-05-20 Online:2023-04-15 Published:2023-04-03


The Yanling site is located on the second terrace of the South Luohe River in the Luonan Basin, Qinling mountains, central China, where is the confluence between the South Luohe river and its branch of the Xianhe river, the landform is a loess tableland with a loess-paleosol deposit sequence of 26 meters. A systematic archaeological excavation was carried out from October to November in 2012 in order to cooperate with the construction of Siyuan Experimental School. The excavation exposed a total area of 251 m2, identifying five depositional layers, with 856 stone artifacts yielded. The lithic assemblage consists of manuports, cores, flakes, chunks, chips, and retouched tools. The retouched tools include scrapers, points, awls, notches, cleaver and pick. The stone artifacts did not move in long distance, and the site is a primary deposit site and only slightly disturbed by rains or other low-energy hydrodynamic element in the formation process. The thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence (TT-OSL) dating and the Post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence 290 (pIRIR290) dating results of the deposits suggest that the Paleolithic sequence in the Yanling site could be divided into two development stages, that is the late Middle Pleistocene and early Late Pleistocene, and the site occupied mainly by the hominin could be dated back to 120-70 kaBP. The lithic assemblages from layer 2~5 demonstrated similarities in the aspects of raw material, size, core debitage reduction and tool retouch technology. Firstly, the lithic artifacts are produced by local cobbles/pebbles, which were collected from riverbank alluvial deposits close to this site. Quartz and quartzite were the most frequently used raw materials for knapping and retouching tools, although quartzite sandstone, fine sandstone, igneous rock and siliceous limestone were occasionally used. Secondly, most of the stone artifacts are small (<50 mm) in size, followed by medium (50~100 mm) in size, but finely retouched tools such as cleaver and pick, are large(>100 mm) in size. Thirdly, the proportion of chunks and chips produced by processing stone artifacts is high, followed by manuport and cores, and the number of retouched tools is at a minimum. Fourthly, the tools are mainly retouched flake tools. Pebbles and chunks are also occasionally used as blanks. Most of the tools are small (<50 mm) or medium (50~100 mm) in size. Quartz is used as raw material for retouched tools smaller than 50 mm, and quartzite is used for retouched tools larger than 100 mm. Fifthly, The principal flake knapping method is direct hammer hard percussion. Nevertheless, apart from direct percussion, the bipolar technique was occasionally used.

Key words: Lithic artifacts, Yanling site, Luonan Basin, Qinling Mountains Region

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