Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (01): 12-27.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0055

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The scope of movement of modern humans during the Late Pleistocene in Northeast Asia

CHOI Cheolmin1(), GAO Xing2,3, XIA Wenting2,4, ZHONG Wei1   

  1. 1. School of Geography Sciences, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631
    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. CAS center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2018-06-20 Revised:2018-12-12 Online:2021-02-15 Published:2021-02-25


Due to the development of technology and the increase in the number of specialized researchers, a considerable amount of Late Pleistocene sites have been found in Northeast Asia. Issues concerning modern human fossils, Pleistocene environment, lithic manufacturing techniques and human adaptation have been debated based on these archaeological sites. In particular, the provenance analysis of special raw materials as obsidian enables the researches on the movement and the scope of activities of modern humans during the late Pleistocene who had to continuously be on the move for survival. Most researchers have estimated the mobility of hunter-gatherers based on ethnographic researches. The direct and indirect scope of migration of the modern humans can be assumed through the range of Tanged Points and obsidian artifacts of Mt. Baekdu(Changbai). Unlike other lithic manufacturing techniques, the obsidian artifacts were not passed on to several generations but usually used and discarded by a single generation. Benefited from obsidian’s unique chemical composition, it could been seen as the most reliable evidence to indicate the scope of migration.
Lithic manufacturing techniques such as Levallois, Crest, and Yubetsu were widely disseminated over a long time, which is not appropriate to use these lithic techniques to estimate the scope of movement of modern humans. However, the Tanged Point, which had been popularly utilized in a short chronological period and enjoyed a limited distribution in the Northeast Asian region. Based on the distribution of obsidian artifacts from Mt. Baekdu (Changbai) and the Tanged Points, the scope of activity of the modern humans during the Late Pleistocene (MIS 2) is estimated as 193,000~520,000 km2.

Key words: Late Pleistocene, Movement of modern humans, Obsidian, Artifacts, Tanged Points

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