Table of Content

    15 August 2023, Volume 42 Issue 04
    Research Articles
    Morphological variation in the circum-nasal region of modern human
    LIU Wu, HE Jianing, YAN Yi, ZHANG Ziliang, CHEN Yiying, WU Xiujie
    2023, 42(04):  445-457.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0029
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    Morphologies of the circum-nasal region in modern human populations exhibit different patterns and are closely related to climate and environment. However, the full scope of morphological variation is unclear, especially given the lack of well-defined standards, including homologous landmarks for morphological data collection and analysis of this region. In this study, 154 crania of Caucasian, African and North Chinese populations were observed and measured. Results revealed pronounced population-specific patterns in morphologies of the circum-nasal region. The African population was characterized by a low and broad piriform aperture with a blunt margin, weak anterior nasal spine, and a pronounced sub-nasal fossa. In contrast, the nasal region of the Caucasian population was characterized by a high and narrow piriform aperture with a sharp margin, a well-developed anterior nasal spine, and a weak or absent sub-nasal fossa. The pattern characterizing the North Chinese population was intermediate between the Caucasian and African populations, but more closely resembled the Caucasian in trait-by-trait expressions.

    Previous studies have found that piriform aperture morphology in various modern human populations from the past 10,000 years exhibits chronological changes and inter-population differences. For example, it is noteworthy that Neolithic populations from the middle Yellow River regions exhibit a broad piriform aperture. Due to the lack of comprehensive information during data collection and analysis, many aspects of the morphological pattern and extent of variation in the circum-nasal region from present-day Chinese are still not clear.

    Future investigation of the morphological patterns characterizing the circum-nasal region of Holocene populations found in China will provide essential context for understanding the formation and diversification of modern human populations in East Asia.

    Palaeopathology of children from the Shuanghuaishu Neolithic site in Henan Province
    ZHOU Yawei, YU Yating, GU Wanfa
    2023, 42(04):  458-471.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0026
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    This study presents a palaeopathological analysis of 14 children’s bones that were excavated from the Shuanghuaishu site in Gongyi City, Henan Province, central China. Since 2020, a total of 328 human skeletons have been excavated from this site, including 299 adult skeletons, 14 child skeletons, and 15 cases of unknown age. Osteological analysis revealed a number of pathological indicators concerning age at death, state of health, and living environment of children from the Late Yangshao Neolithic site (approx. 5300BP). The 14 non-adults were found in two cemeteries called Area I and Area II, respectively. Skeletons of children from Burial Area I (n=9) and Burial Area II(n=5) showed varying degrees of pathology and trauma. Among them, peak age of death in both Area I and Area II was between 5 and 10 years. In Area I, the caries rate of children was high at 75% (n=12), of which the caries rate of deciduous teeth was 21.54% whereas the caries rate of permanent teeth was 5.26%. Caries rate of maxillary deciduous teeth was higher than that of mandibular deciduous teeth, with the maxillary permanent teeth having a lower caries rate than the mandibular permanent teeth. Molars were more severely affected and had higher rates of caries as well as degrees of carious lesions compared to incisors and canines, and a grade 3 of deciduous teeth carious lesion was more common. However, compared with Area I the caries rate of children in Area II was 0. To better understand oral hygiene conditions of Shuanghuaishu children, this study did a comparative analysis of nearby Yangshao sites in Henan Province, and also of modern children. The result showed that for both Area I and Area II, malplastic tooth enamel, cribra orbitalia, Harris’ lines and trauma were found. Conclusions of this work are as follows: carious lesion pattern found at the Shuanghuaishu site may be related to typical agricultural diets of Yangshao people and along with complexity of cultural features and lifestyles; a poor level of enamel development; perhaps poor oral hygiene conditions; and a high carbohydrate such as plant-based diet. In comparison, children in Area II had better tooth alignment, oral hygiene and dietary conditions. Palaeopathological evidence from dentition of children at Shuanghuaishu in the late Yangshao period showed that there was malnutrition, anemia and other survival pressures, as well as a few individuals suffering from abuse and violent trauma.

    Verification and optimization of micro-destructive proteomics method for sex determination of archaeological human remains
    ZHANG Baoshuai, WU Xiaotong, WU Gao, JIN Zhengyao, FAN Anchuan
    2023, 42(04):  472-487.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0018
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    Proteomics analysis of sex-specific amelogenin peptides in tooth enamel has a high accuracy in determining sex, which is especially useful for poorly preserved fossil human remains. Destructive sampling has been used in most studies, which consumed a considerable been used in most studies, so less destructive analysis such as the one described here is more desirable. Since this method was developed, many researchers have used it to identify sex of archaeological samples. To verify and optimize this approach, the use of micro-destructive analysis of teeth with different preservation conditions is investigated using 24 samples from 11 sites (from Neolithic to the Qin-Han period). This method obtained sex identification results consistent with physical anthropology in all 18 archaeological samples with known sex. At the same time, six individuals of unknown sex were reliably judged, which shows that the micro-destructive analysis method has good applicability to tooth samples. We optimized this method in sampling and data analysis, noting the following points. 1) There is a certain linear relationship between number of total peptides and Ay-specific peptides. Combined with the fitting curve, 30 peptide fragments were identified as the reference threshold to exclude male false negative results. For samples without Ay-specific peptide segments, if the value was higher than 30, it was determined to be female; otherwise it’s sex was not determined. 2) Multiple extraction of peptides from HCl solution is an effective way to increase number and types of peptides without secondary damage to teeth. 3) Three kinds of variable modification (Oxidation (M) and Deamidation (NQ)) are necessary in database search. At the same time, the relationship between different factors and protein content was also evaluated. At present, there is no relationship between burial or thermal age, distribution area and preservation status of amelogenin peptides. How to characterize the preservation status of amelogenin in samples by appearance or other means remains to be further studied. The data obtained in this study also offers a research basis for further discussion of mechanisms affecting the preservation of amelogenin peptides. Therefore, experiments to evaluate preservation of enamel protein before proteomic analysis is an effective method to minimize the damage of samples.

    The northern dispersal route: New evidence of Upper Paleolithic human behavior from the Tsagaan Turuut River Valley, central Mongolia
    Tsedendorj BOLORBAT, Dashzeveg BAZARGUR, Guunii LKHUNDEV, Batsuuri ANKHBAYAR, Adyasuren ALTANBAGANA, Tsend AMGALANTUGS, Gonchig BATBOLD, CAO Jian’en, SONG Guodong, CAO Peng, CAI Xi
    2023, 42(04):  488-502.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2022.0007
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    Mongolia’s unique geographical location between northern China and the Siberian Plateau of Russia has facilitated its role as a corridor of regional cultural connection since the Pleistocene. It is evident that the Early Upper Paleolithic of Mongolia dates to 33-27 kaBP from the archaeological studies of those Upper Paleolithic sites at Tsagaan Agui and Chikhen Agui in Bayankhongor Province (Southwest Mongolia). Here, we present the results of archaeological analysis of Paleolithic remains from the six sites in the Tsagaan Turuut River Valley located in Galuut district, northern Bayankhongor Province. These newly discovered sites significantly expand our knowledge of the prehistory of central Mongolia and most of Central Asian region. The knapping technology at these sites is based on radial cores and unidirectional prismatic cores. By analyzing the lithic artifacts from these six sites, we believe that these cultures have continuity from early to late stages of the Early Upper Paleolithic. Special tools such as points and large bifaces were recovered. The 14C dating results of a bone sample from the lower layer of a test pit indicate that the Tsagaan Baast Valley sites are no later than 43500 BP cal (β-TSTC1).

    Excavation/Investigation Reports
    2019 excavation report of the Bianfudong Paleolithic site in Heqing, Yunnan
    RUAN Qijun, LIU Jianhui, YE Rongbo, SHAO Qingfeng, YANG Sen, ZHOU Jianwei, HUA Chunyong, SUN Jian, ZHANG Xiaomei, LUO Xingrong
    2023, 42(04):  503-513.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0024
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    The Bianfudong Paleolithic site is located in the middle valley of the Jinshajiang River. Due to early quarrying damage, the roof, entrance and frontal part of the cave were severely destroyed. To accompany basic construction, we conducted a rescue excavation in 2019. The excavation area is approximately 30 m away from the original entrance to the cave. The stratigraphy of the site consists of two parts: cultural deposits and underlying cave fissure deposits. The cultural deposit is 2.3 m in thickness and divided into two cultural stages (upper and lower) comprising ten sub-layers. Some hominin fossils, stone artifacts and plentiful animal fossils have been excavated from the cultural layers, along with some fauna from the natural cave fissure deposits. A large number of stone artifacts were excavated from the lower cultural layer with both core and flake tools identified. In contrast, mainly flake tools were identified from the upper layer. Broken fossil bones excavated from cultural layers are dominated by deer and bovids totalling more than 100 individuals, and some bones preserve artificial marks on the surface. The U-series dating of the site gives the age of the lower cultural layer between 180 kaBP and 140 kaBP, while the top of upper cultural layer is dated to ca. 70 kaBP.

    An excavation report of the Locality 1 of Wangjiayan Paleolithic site, Chengdu
    HUANG Ming, ZUO Zhiqiang, LI Hao, GAO Yu, SUN Xuefeng, LI Guo, XIAO Peiyuan
    2023, 42(04):  514-522.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0035
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    Locality 1 at the Wangjiayan site is located in the northern part of the Mumatai undulating terrace in Shuangliu District, Chengdu City. In total, 82 stone artifacts were excavated from the site including cores, flakes, chunks and tools. In addition, a large quantity of unmodified cobbles were also unearthed. Raw materials were mainly collected from adjacent river gravels and lower cobble lays of the Mumashan Formation. Quartzite is the predominant type of raw material, accompanied by a small proportion of vein quartz. Freehand percussion was exclusively used for core reduction, with single-platform cores prevalent, plus a few double-platform cores. Flakes show a remarkable variation of size with some possessing the potential to make heavy-duty tools (e.g., handaxes) as a cortical platform is common for most of the flakes. Damage is observed on flake margins, which may indicate direct use of unretouched flakes. Heavy-duty tools including two handaxes and a pick share similar technological features with tools in the Acheulean techno-complex. Preliminary OSL dating indicates that the occupation was no younger than 89 ka. The discovery and excavation of this Locality 1 further extends the history of humans’ activities in the Chengdu Plain, and sheds important light for our understanding of subsistence strategies and Paleolithic culture of early hominins in the region.

    Stone artifacts discovered during the 2018-2022 Paleolithic surveys in the Shuiyangjiang River Basin, Anhui Province
    ZHAN Shijia, DONG Zhe
    2023, 42(04):  523-530.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0034
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    This report presents stone artifacts discovered in several Paleolithic surveys conducted from 2018 to 2022 in the Shuiyangjiang River Basin, Anhui Province. These investigations were done by the Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics of Anhui Province. A total of 15 new localities were discovered with six previous sites/localities confirmed. Lithic raw materials were procured from local riverbeds with quartzite as the dominant type of rock. Most stone artifacts were manufactured by freehand hammer percussion, followed by bipolar technique. Typologically, 116 lithic artifacts mainly cores and flakes. On basis of reduction patterns, cores could be separated into casual, chopper, discoidal or polyhedral cores. There were also some large tools such as heavy-duty scrapers and choppers. The whole lithic assemblage was assigned to the Pebble Tool Industry of South China. According to stone artifact location in vermiculated red soil and on the soil surface, it is reasonable to anticipate that early humans occupied these localities in the Middle Pleistocene. The archaeological evidence provides a new challenge in re-examining lithic technology from the Shuiyangjiang River Basin.

    New discoveries from the Nansi Canyon Paleolithic site, Inner Mongolia
    PENG Fei, TIE Weidong, QIN Bin, WANG Huiming, GAO Xing
    2023, 42(04):  531-539.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0025
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    Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) was first adopted to describe a transitional technological assemblage with both Middle and Upper Paleolithic characteristics. Now, the term has become an important concept in discussing modern human origins and dispersal in Eurasia. Questions about its chronology, technological variation, and population groups have been hotly debated. The Shuidonggou site complex is one of the essential IUP sites in North China, with few contemporary sites discovered and studied in adjacent areas. Here we provide a report on a new investigation in Alashan. In 2013, a survey of the Paleolithic site in the Nansi Canyon of Alashan, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, collected 33 lithic artifacts. Raw materials were quartzite, and the degree of weathering and abrasion low. Preliminary research shows that the rough production method of ancient stone technology is hammering with lithics identified as cores, flakes and chunks. Tool blanks are all flakes assessed as scrapers according to processing type. In terms of cultural appearance, the site is similar to sites 1 and 9 at Shuidonggou. Its age may be at the beginning of the Initial Upper Palaeolithic, about 40 kaBP. This discovery has crucial significance for further discussing technological diversity of Initial Upper Paleolithic and migration paths of early modern humans in Northeast Asia.

    Discovery and study of artificial deformation in ancient Chinese human remains
    LI Haijun, LIU Liming, ZHANG Yidan, XIAO Xiaoyong
    2023, 42(04):  540-553.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0016
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    Through the study of artificial deformation of ancient ancestral remains, it is not only helpful to understand past cultural customs, aesthetic orientation and ancient medical treatment and technological abilities, but also beneficial to infer possible organizational structure and hierarchical differentiation of past society. Studying the origin and spread of various artificial deformations can also be helpful to reveal cultural exchanges and differences between regions and ethnic groups. At present, there are several types of artificial deformation discovered in China, such as cranial perforations, intentional cranial modification, mouth-plugging practices, artificial modification of teeth, foot binding, etc. However, these kinds of artificial deformation lack a general summary, and suffer from various inetrpretations such as origin, purpose and meaning of artificial deformations. This paper attempts to systematically sort relevant cases of artificial deformation, summarizing main types, and analyzing characteristics including spatial and temporal distribution, sex and age distribution, and tools and methods used in artificial deformation activities. This paper also summarizes specific debates such as purpose and meaning of cranial perforations; whether cranial trepanation existed in prehistory; meanings and relationships of intentional cranial modifications; purpose and meaning of mouth-plugging practice, reasons for Neolithic tooth extraction; and origins of foot binding. Furthermore, this paper uses specific cases to analyze and explain the value of ethnological perspectives and methods in the study of artificial deformation, affirming its important role.

    Current status and reflection on the study of microblade function
    ZENG Chenru, YI Mingjie, GAO Xing
    2023, 42(04):  554-563.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0021
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    A microblade is a flake pressed from a prepared microcore with straight ridges on the dorsal surface, and characterized by parallel sides. The length of the microblade is generally more than twice its width. Study of the function of microblades is an important way to explore the function of Paleolithic and Neolithic sites, livelihood patterns of ancient humans, and migration and dispersal of human populations. Through efforts of scholars in recent decades, research on the function of microblades has achieved some results. It is generally believed that the functional use of microblades is found at the tip and edge, with the object of action to be mainly animal remains, or possible hunting, processing meat, etc. Some microblades were used directly to process plant materials through collecting and harvesting as ancient humans may have used plant resources as a supplement to meat. A few microblades were used for drilling, grooving, or other processing.

    In the early 20th century, Nels C. Nelson and other scholars first discovered remains of microblade cores and microblade during scientific investigations on the Mongolian plateau. The spread of this technology in Northeast Asia and North America involves the transformation of livelihood and behavioral patterns of hominins during the Last Glacial Period. After years of exploration, scholars have made a series of researches on source, type, production process and other aspects of microblade technology, but technical research is weak in terms of how ancient humans adapted to the harsh ecological environments of the Last Glacial Period often involving migration and diffusion of people.

    Combining studies of relevant literature of microwear and residue analysis, these studies have assessed the origin and spread of microblade technology, determination of site function and modes of adaptation to environmental change of environment, etc. At the same time, there are still problems in this research including sampling and analysis methods, few experiments and research cases, and limitations in usewear and residue research. On this basis, it is suggested that future research on microblade function should be guided by archeological problems, increasing quantitative experimental research including usewear and residue analysis. Further study of microblades in multiple regions should be carried out and interpretations in the context of site background.

    A research review of porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia of human skull
    ZHAO Dongyue, LI Haolu
    2023, 42(04):  564-574.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0032
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    Cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis are two of the most common pathological changes in ancient human bone unearthed from archaeological sites. These two traits are manifested as porous cranial lesions in the skull vault and orbital roof accompanied by dipolic thickening and outer table thinning. Over the past century, many scholars have conducted extensive research on these two traits that are related to anemia, scurvy, infectious disease, trauma, malnutrition, cultural behaviors, etc, and can reflect details of people’s diet, way of life, nutritional, health and medical status. Chinese attention to these two traits is relatively late, and there are few published monographs. However, there are many Chinese specimens that provide good research conditions for further extensive research. This paper reviews the discovery and naming, diagnosis and scale, etiology and pathogenesis of cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis, as well as as well as the relationship between these two pathological phenomena.