Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (03): 379-391.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0014

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Experimental study of debitage size distribution on chert raw materials in the Datianwa area of the Nihewan Basin, North China

REN Jincheng1,2,3,4,5(), LI Feng2,3(), CHEN Fuyou2,3, GAO Xing2,3,4   

  1. 1. School of Archaeology, Jilin University, Changchun 130012
    2. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, 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
    5. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena Germany 07745
  • Received:2019-11-14 Revised:2020-04-12 Online:2020-08-15 Published:2020-08-31
  • Contact: LI Feng;


Debitage size distribution is one of most effective indicators to study the site formation processes in Paleolithic archaeology. In the 1970s and 1980s, the researchers from Indiana University Kathy Schick and Nicholas Toth conducted systematic experiments on the debitage size distribution using raw materials and flaking methods of mainly Early Paleolithic in Koobi Fora region in Kenya, and finally obtained massive experimental data which have been widely accepted and applied to the study of site formation processes all over the world.

In this paper, we operated a number of debitage size distribution experiments using local raw materials Zhoujiashan cherts and Donggutuo cherts and casual core-flake knapping method in the Datianwa area in the Nihewan Basin in order to establish direct experimental data for further analysis on site formation processes in this region. 25 experiments were carried out and 10070 debitage in total were collected. The results indicate that the proportions of debitage decrease as the size increase and small debitage are extremely high throughout. Debitage of 0.5~1 cm has the highest value about 60.9% (mean value) just followed by 1~2 cm about 23.3% (mean value). This pattern is obviously different from that observed by Schick and Toth, and would be more appropriate to study the site formation processes in the Datianwa area in the Nihewan Basin.

Key words: Nihewan Basin, Datianwa area, Knapping experiments, Cherts, Non-human primate, Debitage size distribution

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