Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (05): 590-603.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0050

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Stone artifacts unearthed from the Baixigou site in the Nihewan Basin

YI Mingjie1(), YU Guanyue2, CHEN Fuyou3, ZHANG Xiaoling3   

  1. 1. School of History, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872
    2. Nanjing Museum, Nanjing 210016
    3. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
  • Received:2022-01-26 Revised:2022-09-26 Online:2023-10-15 Published:2023-10-16


The Baixigou site is located on the secondary terrace of Sanggan River in Yangyuan County, Hebei Province. A salvage archaeological excavation of an area of 4 m2 in 2017 revealed a cultural layer of 6 cm thick, from which 991 artifacts were unearthed including 684 lithics and 307 animal bones. With a single cultural layer and thin accumulation, the Baixigou site has hardly been disturbed during its formation process. Artifacts are densely distributed around a hearth, including microblade products, flake tools, animal bones, ostrich eggshell beads and possible pigments. Different types of stone tools were made with specific raw materials, indicating that exploitation of raw materials was well-planned and systematic. The technology of wedge-shaped cores is close to the Yubetsu method where humans applied this technique skillfully and simplified core preparation procedure in consideration of blank characteristics. Chipped stones are most likely to be by-products of microblade production, of which 19 groups were refitted. There were only three tools, including one scraper and two adzes, but they are exquisite and reflect a trend towards standardization and craft specialization. Preliminary dating shows that the site was occupied around 17 kaBP. From the perspective of a forager-collector model, the Baixigou site is similar to a temporary field camp with a logistic mobility strategy. Activities carried out here are low-intensity, and thus few lithics have been used. Specialized tools such as adzes may reflect a connection between a residential camp and a more permanent field camp. To be specific, in addition to providing necessary tools for groups in the temporary field camp to reduce risk and maintain high mobility, groups in the residential camp provided specialized tools that met the needs of field camp. As a result, specialized tools are found in both types of camps. A significant number of microblade have been unearthed from the Nihewan Basin that shows a three-stage change corresponding to emergence, spread and gradual fading of microblade technology (i.e., early stage before and during Last Glacial Maximum; middle stage from post-LGM to pre-Holocene; and late stage during early Holocene). The process was consistent with climate fluctuations. Abundant archaeological remains indicate that group mobility of these hunter-gatherers slowly reduced with a tendency towards a more organized society.

Key words: Nihewan, Archaeology, Lithics, Microblades, Upper Paleolithic

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