The Ma’anshan site, located in Tongzi county, Zunyi city, Guizhou province, was discovered in 1980 and excavated in 1981, 1986 and 1990. The Ma’anshan site is a Late Pleistocene cave site in Yun-Gui plateau, which is famous for yielding the oldest formal bone tools in South China. However, lithic materials from the Ma’anshan site have yet been fully analyzed after the excavation. This paper preliminarily reports 1292 pieces of stone artifacts unearthed in situ and numbered by layers in the 1986 excavation. The excavation area in 1986 reaches nearly 25 m2, and uncovers 9 depositional layers which is divided into two cultural units separated by a depositional hiatus. The lower unit consists of depositional depositional layer 7 and layer 8, and the upper unit consists of layer 2 to layer 6. 14C and AMS14C dating on bone samples and U-series dating on cervid tooth indicate that the age of the lower unit dates back to 53 kaBP and the upper unit is around 36-15 kaBP.
The stone artifacts excavated from upper and lower units display differences in the aspects of raw material, size, core debitage reduction and tool retouch technology. First, the main raw materials of lower unit are siliceous limestone pebbles, however, chert nodules or blocks are the main raw materials of upper unit. Second, partly affected by size of raw materials, the stone artifact of lower unit are mainly small type in length (20≤L<50 mm) and medium type(50≤L<100 mm), but those of upper unit are mainly micro type (L<20 mm) and small type. Third, direct percussion is the dominate debitage technique adopted by ancient human at the Ma’anshan site. Nevertheless, apart from direct percussion, we identified a small number of vertical hammer bipolar flaking and ridged hammer bipolar flaking products from the upper unit, but not in the lower unit. The various debitage methods identified from the upper unit probably indicate ancient human can employ a diversity of debitage methods to process different raw materials. Fourth, blanks of tools from the lower unit are mainly flakes, while chunks are the common blanks of tools from the upper units.
Although, to some degree, stone artifacts between lower and upper cultural units does differ, however, these two units still belong to the same technological system overall. First, the raw materials are both local. Second, ancient humans mainly use chunks or flakes to manufacture tools, rarely directly producing pebble tools. Third, as for the core debitage technology, predetermined technology has not been found at the Ma’anshan site, but discoid core of the upper unit and some double platforms cores of the lower unit both indicate certain organization of the core debitage surfaces. Stone tools are dominated by various types of scrapers in these two units, and they have commonalities in retouch position, retouch length index, edge angle, etc.
Combining the research results of zooarchaeology, paleoclimate and paleoenvironment, we suppose that the technological variation between lower and upper unit could manifest the changes in subsistence patterns and mobility strategies of local population in response to climate change. However, due to space limitations, detailed studies on technological analysis of lithic artifacts and specific relationship between human behavior and environmental changes will be reported in the future.
The study of the Ma’anshan site is of great significance to understand the lithic technology in Guizhou and further to discuss the diversified adaptation of ancient humans on the Yun-Gui Plateau in the Late Pleistocene.
Keywords Ma’anshan site; Guizhou province; Late Pleistocene; Stone artifacts