Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 1991, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (04): 333-345.

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A study of the bone fragments of Shiyu Site

Zhang Junshan   

  • Online:1991-12-15 Published:1991-12-15

Abstract: Shiyu is an important upper paleolithic site in North China. Its absolute age as dated by ra-diocarbon method is 28,000 years before present. Apart from a great amount of stone artifacts, nearly 10,000 pieces of bone fragments have been discovered. Professor Jia Lanpo and His col-leagues had studied the stone artifacts. In his paper, nearly 700 pieces of bone fragments in thebone assemblage were studied in order to find out the formation of the bone assemblage andwhether bone tools exist in it.
Except two bone fragments retaining articular ends, all the others are variously batteredbones broken from the shafts of longbones. Their length ranges from 39mm--177mm. Accord-ing to the bone thickness and fauna assemblage of Shiyu site, these bone fragments belong toherbivorous animals such as horse and gazelle etc. The majority of thefragments did notsuffer from serious weathering and abrasion. More than 80% of the fragments show evidenceof the hominid modification including cutmarks, chopping marks, percussion scars and boneflakes. 15% of the fragments have been gnawed by carnivorous animals.
The flake scars of 62% modified bones were distributed on long bone splinters separately.They might be produced by breaking bone to extract the marrow. 38% of the modified bonesshow some regular and consistant scar patterns. The angles of the edge formed by the consistantscar range mainly from 30°--70°, the length from 25--50mm. These regularly modified bonesare very similar with the bone tools produced experimentally. Obviously these regularly mo-dified bones were intentionally selected and modified for use as tools.Consequently, 39 piecesof the modified bones can be classified as bone tools. The worked parts of the bone tools con-centrated on sides and ends of the bones. The bone tools were chiefly retouched by direct per-cussion flaking on the inner surfaces. A few of the bone tools show smoothing and polishingof an end and part of sides, which are considered to be the result of utilization. On the otherhand, cutmarks can be observed on 80% of the fragments. This evidence indicates that Shiyusite should be the living and butchery site of prehistoric man.

Key words: Bone fragments; Bone tools; Shiyu