Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (06): 1096-1107.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0065

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On the diversity of Chinese lithic technologies from a technological organization perspective

ZHAN Shijia1(), DONG Zhe2   

  1. 1. School of Cultural Heritage at Northwestern University, Xi’an 710069
    2. Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics, Anhui Province, Hefei 230601
  • Received:2020-05-20 Revised:2020-08-10 Online:2021-12-15 Published:2021-04-07


The evolution of stone artifact assemblages has a close relationship to the investment (time and energy) in stone tools’ making. In other words, it is also subject to the availability of the lithic raw materials, animal and plant resources which can be obtained by early humans. According to Paleolithic archaeological records around the world, G. Clark characterized the evolution of lithic technology into five different modes which made great influence in explaining the technological evolution of early humans in the Old World. However, it should be noted that early hominins lived in North China and even East Asia adopted Core and Flake techno-complex before 40 ka BP. To explain this phenomenon, scholars proposed a point of view that this due to a strong local cultural tradition in China, and limited cultural exchange between west and east hinders the development of technological characterization.
This paper focus on the research scopes of technological organization and the dichotomy of the expedient or curated stone tool manufactured strategies. It can be inferred that the prevalence of Core and Flake techno-complex in China represents a successful adaptation which represents to a low-cost expedience strategy. On the contrary, a small amount of Mode 2 and Mode 3 lithic technology in China can be explained to a relatively high-cost curation strategy. In addition, the high-cost lithic strategy of relatively advanced technology of Mode 2 and Mode 3 delivers the cultural symbol which represent cultural transmission from west to east, while low-cost lithic strategy of Core and Flake techno-complex in China may indicate the cultural inheritance and development. Furthermore, the persistence of Core and Flake Techno-complex in China can be interpreted as the successful adaptation to the local raw materials and animal and plant resources, on the other hand, the sporadic and low-frequency variation of relatively high-cost strategy of Mode 2 and Mode 3 assemblages may present the limited early hominins’ migration (low effective group size) and technical transmission from west Eurasia and Africa to China and even East Asia.

Key words: Paleolithic, Lithic techno-complex, Expedience, Curation

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