Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (05): 604-615.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0040

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Technology and strategy of core reduction at the Yangshang site, Gansu

ZHAO Yuchao1,2(), LI Feng3, ZHOU Jing4, CHEN Fuyou2, GAO Xing2,5   

  1. 1. Joint International Research Laboratory of Environmental and Social Archaeology, Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University, Qingdao 266237
    2. 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
    3. School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    4. Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Lanzhou 730000
    5. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2022-07-04 Revised:2023-03-23 Online:2023-10-15 Published:2023-10-16


The Yangshang site (220-140 kaBP) is a late Early Paleolithic locale in Gansu Province. A total of 1696 lithic artifacts and 337 faunal remains were recovered during 2013 excavations. This paper summarizes the lithic reduction technology by analyzing raw materials, morphology and technical attributes of cores and flakes unearthed from the site. The cultural and adaptive implications of the lithic reduction strategies are further investigated. The results show that core reduction is characterized by hard-hammer percussion including platform-migrating and discoid core exploitation methods. The combination of core and flake types and composition of raw materials did not change significantly throughout the site’s occupation, which indicates stability of Early Paleolithic cultural transmission on the Longxi Loess Plateau. The Yangshang lithic assemblage is dominated by vein quartz. This material’s macrocrystalline and developed-inner flaw characters had significant impact on core reduction and flake morphology as the fragility and unpredictability of this material make it difficult to control core reduction process. As a result, core exploitation at Yangshang was a fairly opportunistic, migrating, platform strategy rather than focus on single platform preparation. Due to low workability of vein quartz for retouching and tool maintenance, retouch was only employed occasionally. Yangshang’s inhabitants may have preferred to produce a large quantity of flakes from which to select an edge with the appropriate form and angle for direct use.

Key words: Early Paleolithic, Archaeology, Lithics, Quartz, Technology

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