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    15 February 2024, Volume 43 Issue 01
    Research Articles
    Research progress on human fossils from the Xujiayao site in late Middle Pleistocene
    WU Xiujie
    2024, 43(01):  5-18.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0044
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    The Xujiayao hominin remains are key to the study of East Asian human evolution but also the most controversial. The Xujiayao (Houjiayao) site is located west of Liyigou, a tributary on the left bank of the Sanggan River in the northern Nihewan Basin of northern China. The site was first discovered in 1973. Between 1976 and 1979, 21 human fossils were found at the site, including one partial left maxilla, three isolated teeth, two occipital bones, one partial mandible, one left temporal bone and 13 parietal fragments, all representing 16 individuals. Based on the associated fauna, and OSL dating on the middle-lower culture layers, the Xujiayao hominins lived in the late Middle Pleistocene (about 160-200 kaBP). Evaluations of Xujiayao taxonomy have ranged from being representatives of Asian H. erectus, pre-modern Homo sapiens, archaic Homo sapiens, Neandertals, intermediate between H. erectus and modern H. sapiens, unidentified hominin species, or related to Xuchang 1, Penghu 1, Xiahe 1 or Denisovans. Over the past 10 years, there has been renewed attention to these fossils. New results suggest that the Xujiayao hominins have a suite of unusual morphological traits that do not conform to existing patterns of morphology from either the time period or the region. These traits include large and morphologically complex teeth, very large cranial capacity (about 1700 mL), Neanderthal-like traits of bi-level nasal floor and temporal labyrinthine patterns that are common, but not exclusive to that lineage, live slow and die old modern growth and development patterns in the immature maxilla, and several primitive early East Asian traits despite the fossils’ recent age. In addition, the Xujiayao hominins show various pathologies, including a very rare congenital defect of an enlarged parietal foramen associated with cerebral venous and cranial vault anomalies, multiple traumatic lesions of endocranium, and minor temporal auditory porous new bone in external auditory exostoses. In conclusion, the Xujiayao hominins are characterized by a mosaic of archaic morphological features that distinguish them clearly from H. erectus, Neandertals, and modern humans. Given that the Xujiayao and Xuchang crania group closely together in multiple analyses and are quite different from all other comparative Pleistocene hominin crania, we conclude that they represent a new hominin population for the region, Juluren meaning “large head people”. It is quite possible that this population represents gene flow between Asian H. erectus and possibly H. antecessor or early Neandertals, which supports the idea of continuity with hybridization as a major force shaping Chinese populations during the late Middle and early Late Pleistocene.

    Human adaptive behaviors during the Middle Pleistocene Climatic Transition in the Nihewan Basin
    PEI Shuwen, XU Zhe, YE Zhi, MA Dongdong, JIA Zhenxiu
    2024, 43(01):  19-39.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0076
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    The relationship between hominin evolution, technological developments, and environmental change has always been at the frontier of academic attention. The mid-Pleistocene Climate Transition (MPT) where the cycle, frequency and amplitude of climate change alters, occurred between 1.25 and 0.7 MaBP. This critical period promoted an initial migration wave of Homo erectus (Out of Africa I) and accelerated the spread of Homo erectus(equipped with Acheulean technology) to Eurasia from Africa. According to recent studies, the spread of Homo erectus taking Oldowan toolkits to middle/high latitudes of East Asia can be traced back to 2.12 MaBP. Around 1.66 MaBP, humans occupied the Nihewan Basin, leaving behind abundant and dense Paleolithic archaeological sites showing clear diverse and flexible adaptive behavioral characteristics. This paper presents a preliminary study between environmental change and human survival behaviors of several important sites (Feiliang, Madigou, Cenjiawan, and Dongutuo, etc.) during the MPT from the Cenjiawan platform in the eastern part of the Nihewan Basin.

    Raw material procurement and exploration strategies indicate that local materials were adopted by early humans in the Cenjiawan platform. Exploration of different raw materials from sites depended on the distance from the raw material source instead of being directly influenced by environmental fluctuations. Freehand direct hard hammer percussion was the dominant technique especially during the MPT period. Although bipolar knapping was adopted by early humans, it had a complementary role that showed flexibility in knapping skills and enhancement of cognitive abilities of early humans to overcome constraints imposed by different qualities of raw materials. Attribute analysis of cores and flakes showed that core reduction and flaking procedures improved during the MPT period. The high quality of chert was selected as the most favorable raw material for stone knapping in the Nihewan Basin. Not only the number of tool types increased and the degree of retouch methods diversified, but complexity of various types of small scrapers, points, bores, notches, denticulates and multi-edged small tools increased significantly over time. In addition, evidence of core rotation and bifacial working of small clasts across some of the Nihewan assemblages like the Madigou knappers indicate that hominins had the ability to fashion bifacial implements and potentially LCTs. It can be deduced that increased environmental fluctuation and paleoecological variability during the MPT may have contributed to technological flexibility and diversification in response to new climatic challenges.

    This paper provides new insights into the understanding of human behavioral adaptation that corresponded with environmental fluctuations from African to high-latitude arid-semi-arid regions in East Asia.

    Stone artifacts from the Yuzuigou Locality 1 of the Majuangou Paleolithic site excavated in 2017 and 2018
    LIU Lianqiang, PU Yuxiao, HOU Jiaqi, WANG Fagang
    2024, 43(01):  40-54.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0005
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    The Yuzuigou Paleolithic Locality 1 is located on the eastern edge of the Nihewan Basin along the north slope of the Datianwa platform and in the most northern part of the Majuangou Paleolithic site. In 2017 and 2018, an 80 m2 excavation was carried out at the site, during which 7 cultural layers, 4 fossil layers, 207 stone artifacts, and abundant fossils were discovered. There are 152 stone artifacts specifically from the Yuzuigou Locality 1. Chert, dolomite, siliceous limestone and basalt are the main raw materials. Artifacts are divided into general types, such as hammers, cores, flakes, tools, fragments, chunks, or specifically scrapers, notches, points, borers, burins, and choppers. These lithics belong to a tradition of core-flake technology, and are part of the core-flake industry in northern China. The cultural layers of the locality are unambiguous, and some of these layers can be directly compared with the Majuangou site. Layers 7 and 4 correspond directly to layers 3 and 1 at the Majuangou site; according to dating with absolute age determinations at 1.66 MaBP and 1.55 MaBP, respectively. Seven cultural layers in different stages were found in the same sections or beds, including three newly found cultural layers. Some of the cultural layers at the Yuzuigou Paleolithic Locality 1 are very rich while others are not, which can give an important clues to lithic technology, and patterns of human livelihood in the early Pleistocene. With accurate chronology for this locality, abundant cultural connotations, many cultural layers accompanied by large numbers of stone artifacts and fossils, the Yuzuigou Paleolithic Locality 1 is the earliest Early Pleistocene site at Majuangou at present. It provides important materials for the emergence and evolutionary patterns of early human beings in East Asia. More comprehensive and elaborate archaeological investigation and excavation can bring more insight about this location.

    Stone artifacts unearthed in 1985 and 1986 from the Xibaimaying site of the Nihewan Basin, Hebei Province
    ZHOU Zhenyu, WANG Fagang, GUAN Ying
    2024, 43(01):  55-66.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0003
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    The Xibaimaying site was discovered in 1985 and first excavated from 1985 to 1986. The site was U-series dated to 18±1 kaBP and 15±1 kaBP based on two bovid teeth samples from the culture layer in 1989. When the site was re-dated using single-grain OSL methods in 2017, resulting ages indicated that the cultural layer was deposited 46±3 kaBP. With the differences in dates, the lithic assemblage needed to be reexamined. The representative tool assemblage included scrapers and points, which are widely found in Upper Paleolithic sites in northern China. Direct hard hammer percussion was the main flaking technique, with mostly unprepared platforms. It is believed that this assemblage represents the flake-tool tradition of the Upper Paleolithic in North China even though it has some unique characteristics. Retouching focused mostly on functional tool parts, such as scraper edges and the sharp corner of points to obtain effective functions in the most cost-effective way. There is a skill and maturity to the knapping and retouching technology. This assemblage shows that the cultural traditions of earlier sites such as at Xujiayao, Banjingzi and Xinmiaozhuang were inherited and developed at Xibaimaying.

    Preliminary Results of the 1997-1998 Excavation of the Ma’anshan Site in Yangyuan, Hebei
    FENG Yue, MEI Huijie, XIE Fei, SUN Xiuli, WANG Youping
    2024, 43(01):  67-80.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0046
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    The Ma’anshan site is located on the second terrace of the Sanggan River, Nihewan Basin, and is an important locality of the Hutouliang site group. Excavations in 1997-1998 revealed multiple occupational horizons and tens of thousands of lithics and faunal remains, including 3549 pieces of labeled specimens, together with dozens of fireplaces and a unique structure resembling a storage pit. The original cultural layer (Layer 3) is further divided into 6 sublayers (layers 3A-3F). AMS radiocarbon dates with Bayesian analysis suggest the site was dated approximately 17-15 ka cal BP. The microblade industry at the site mostly exploited Yubetsu technology, with the toolkit containing side- and end- scrapers, notches, denticulates, burins, bifaces, adze-shaped tools and spearheads. Raw materials were dominated by volcanic breccia, while siliceous mudstone, flint and chalcedony were also important components. Faunal remains were relatively limited in number, and most identifiable pieces recognized as medium-to-large sized angulates, such as Bovidae and Equidae. For bone tools and ornaments, there were several ostrich shell beads and one broken bone awl.

    Based on its stratigraphy, dates, features and artifacts, cultural development at the Ma’anshan Site can be divided into two stages. The early stage (sublayers 3F-3B, 17.1-16.3 ka cal BP) was dominated by Yubetsu microblade technology, and around 1/3 of the tools were unifacially or bifacially worked. Volcanic breccia made up over 85% of all raw materials, while flint composed less than 5%. The density of artefacts was extremely high, and activities were well-organized, centering around fireplaces. This settlement pattern suggested that the site was a central base camp of the Hutouliang site group during this time. During the late stage (sublayer3A, 15.8-15.0 ka cal BP), there was an obvious rise of non-Yubetsu methods of microblade production, and end scrapers became more important in the tool assemblage. At the Yujiagou site, which was close to and dated to a similar period (16-13.8 ka cal BP), new tool types appeared such as a partly polished spearhead, grinding stone and some pottery. Volcanic breccia declined in percentage, composing around 70% of all raw materials, while small flint cobbles increased significantly. The subsistence strategy clearly became more complicated. In layer 3A, a “storage pit” was discovered, which was possibly related to the exploitation of botanic resources. At Yujiagou, juvenile angulates might have been kept for storage.

    The prevalence of Yubetsu microblade technology at Ma’anshan demonstrated intimate connection with findings in Northeast Asia, which were very different from microblade sites in southern parts of North China. Microblade cores at the site also differed from those at another, the Erdaoliang site, an earlier site in the Nihewan Basin with boat-shaped microblade cores. This technological preference exhibited human migration and cultural exchange between North China and Northeast Asia, rather than inheritance of previous regional traditions. Several significant changes took place at the Ma’anshan site after 16 ka cal BP, including diversification in technology, complexity in subsistence and decline in mobility. These innovations provide crucial evidence for understanding the trajectory of Paleolithic-Neolithic transition in North China.

    Heat treatment experiments on the volcanic breccia materials from the Nihewan Basin
    TONG Guang, LI Feng, ZHAO Hailong, YAN Xiaomeng, GAO Xing
    2024, 43(01):  81-90.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0075
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    Abundance of exquisite wedge-shaped microblade cores have been found at many microlithic sites in the Nihewan Basin. Through reconstructed reduction sequences of microblade technology, relationships between microblades and areas, microblade function and knowledge of lithic technology, researchers have a good understanding of human behavior, subsistence and adaptation in the Basin. However, there are still some questions such as raw material use. Bifaces and microblade cores are made of high-quality volcano breccia, showing smooth fracture faces and a greasy luster, whereas natural rocks lack these features, and the fracture patterns are rough and dull. This paradox is unexplained and some researchers suggest that heat treatment was applied to improve the quality of volcano breccia, but it has not been confirmed. By binding heat treatment experiments with flaking experiments, we have gained some important knowledge about the heat treatment of volcano breccia in the Nihewan Basin. When the volcano breccia is heated up to ≥600°C, its resistance weakens, ductility is enhanced, flaking performance is improved significantly to make sophisticated bifaces and microblade cores, which is impossible with natural breccia. But not all volcano breccias show a greasy luster or color change, and this observation is the same with previous researchers. There is no doubt that flaking performance is the main transformation with the fracture of heated volcano breccia smoother. Before heating, however, volcano breccia’s fracture is rough. So heat-treated lithics retain several scars that are removed, but after heating there are two type of scars, rough and smooth. Heat treatment also induces conchoidal fractures, which can serve as valid evidence for the use of heat in this raw material. These characteristics are observed on some microblade cores and other lithics from the Xiabuzhuang site. We suggest that heat treatment is, indeed, used in the Upper Paleolithic in the Nihewan Basin, and it increases the diversity of human raw material selection and adaptability of use.

    Behavior of the ancient humans as reflected by the broken long bones of mammals from the Majuangou site, Nihewan Basin
    WANG Xiaomin, LIU Lianqiang, CHEN Guopeng, LI Feng, XIE Fei, GAO Xing
    2024, 43(01):  91-105.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2023.0042
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    The Early Pleistocene site of Majuangou, one of the earliest hominin sites in northeast Asia is dated to 1.76-1.26 Ma BP. Excavations revealed 17 stratigraphic layers showing evidence of hominin activities including lithic artefacts and animal fossils, offering compelling evidence of the earliest human subsistence in high latitude regions of northeast Asia. Among them, Layer 3 (MJG-3) was estimated to be 1.66 Ma BP. The present study focuses on long bone fragments of large and medium-sized mammals recovered from MJG-3 between 2001-2003, with the goal of understanding taphonomic process of faunal assemblages. Breakage analysis, including fragmentation, weathering stages, long bone breakage patterns are reported. It shows that most long bones have green fractures. The recorded fracture angles provide data about initial consumption of bone marrow. We argue that hominins had primary access to carcasses by means of marrow extraction, while carnivores scavenged the leftovers. The systematic analysis of breaking patterns of long bones are applied here, offering evidence of hominin-carnivore interaction in Early Pleistocene in northeast Asia.

    Excavation Reports
    Preliminary Report on the 2016-2019 Excavation of the Donggutuo Paleolithic Site in the Nihewan Basin, North China
    GAO Xing, ZHANG Yueshu, LI Feng, CHEN Fuyou, WANG Xiaomin, YI Mingjie
    2024, 43(01):  106-121.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0002
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    The Nihewan basin of North China, filled with fluvio-lacustrine sequence dated from the Pliocene to the Holocene, has yielded numerous archaeological materials of the Paleolithic. It is a vital area to investigate evolution of hominins and their adapted behaviors in East Asia. Donggutuo (DGT) site is one of the richest Paleolithic sites located on the eastern edge of the Nihewan Basin, which provides key information about the technological behavior evolution of early humans.

    From 2016 to 2019, a new excavation was undertaken at Trench 1 area which is the largest and the most prolific one. According to the sedimentary matrix and the density of stone artifacts, eight cultural layers were identified and tens of thousands of stone artifacts as well as large number of fossils have been unearthed. Archaeological materials were concentrated in layer 6A2 and 6C1. The lithic assemblages include cores, flakes, chunks, shatters, and retouched pieces. The attributes of lithic are similar between layer 6A2 and 6C1 in raw materials, flaking technique and retouched methods. The principal raw material is locally available chert from the ancient riverbed and outcrops. Hominins might have realized the difference of different raw materials, and intentionally selected relatively high-quality raw materials for flaking. The dominating flaking technique was freehand hard hammer percussion without predetermined preparation on the core, and bipolar technique was occasionally used. Most of cores are tested cores and multifacial flaking cores. Retouched tools are dominated by single-edged scarpers. Retouched edges were usually irregular, unifacial without standardized shapes. Variation between these two layers has also been observed, for instance the percentage of denticulates in layer 6A2 is lower than layer 6C1, whereas the former yield more double-edged scrapers and multifacial flaking cores. It might suggest that raw materials were consumed more intensity in layer 6A2.

    Although there are subtle variations among different archaeological layers, the lithic assemblage of the DGT site could be attributed to simple core-flake techno-complex. It is clear that occupants primarily consumed abundant, locally available pebble raw materials in a fairly expedient way. Most bones from the Donggutuo site are fragmented and abraded, and only a small proportion of the fossils can be taxonomically identified. Cut-marks were identified on a small number of fossils. The new discoveries at the Donggutuo site from 2016 to 2019 provide abundant materials for understanding the evolution of stone technology behavior of early Pleistocene hominins in the basin, as well as important materials for understanding the utilization of raw material and mobility organization of early humans in northern China.

    Excavation report of the Shigou site C area in the Nihewan Basin, Hebei Province
    ZHAO Yunxiao, TONG Guang, TU Hua, ZHAO Hailong
    2024, 43(01):  122-131.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0008
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    The Nihewan Basin, which spans more than 9000 square kilometers in northwestern Hebei Province and northern Shanxi Province, is located in the Sanggan River Basin. A large number of Paleolithic archaeological sites have been discovered with an extensive time span and continuous chronological sequence. Many important Lower Paleolithic sites have also been discovered in the Yangyuan Basin that is located in the upper reaches of the Sanggan River, and one, Shigou is important for studying early hominin behavior and evolution of the Pleistocene in northern China.

    This site, located near Cenjiawan village, Datianwa Township, Yangyuan Countywas discovered in 1996, with Locality C excavated in 2013 by researchers from Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, and the Hebei Normal University’s Institute of Nihewan Archaeology (INA). The excavation of Locality C revealed an 8 m2 area containing 51 pebbles, 249 lithic artifacts, and a few animal fossil fragments. Dolomite (n=98, 39.36%), chert (n=77, 30.92%), andesite porphyrite (n=68, 27.31%), and quartz (n=6, 2.41%) were the raw materials. Cores (n=6, 2.41%), whole flakes (n=68, 27.31%), flake fragments (n=54, 21.69%), chunks (n=100, 40.16%), chips (n=8, 3.21%), utilized flakes (n=5, 2.01%), scrapers (n=7, 2.81%), and chopper (n=1, 0.40%) were the different types found in this lithicassemblage. The majority of artifacts were small, with minor weathering and abrasion. Direct hard hammer percussion was the primary flaking technique, with only one bipolar flakediscovered. Used flakes, scrapers and choppers were among the tools. The latter wererelatively simple and rough in retouching, with no standard repair shape and style, reflecting typical characteristics of northern ’s flake tool industry.

    The Shigou site provides important clues and a foundation for restoring ancient environments in the Nihewan Basin’s eastern end. The excavation of Locality C is critical for studying the stone industry of the early Pleistocene site in the Nihewan Basin and for exploring ancient human survival strategies.

    2017 Excavation of the Donggou Paleolithic site in the Yuxian Basin
    ZHOU Shihang, HE Xiangdong, XU Jingyue, LI Xiaoli, NIU Dongwei
    2024, 43(01):  132-142.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0006
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    The Donggou (DG) Paleolithic site is situated near the Changshengtuan village, Huangmei Town, Yu County of Hebei Province. Paleolithic remains are generally buried in the second terrace of the right bank of the Dingan River (a tributary of the Huliu River). This site was excavated from September to November 2017 with an exposed area of 25 m2, and a total of2892 labeled specimens incorporating stones and mammalian fossils. The AMS Carbon-14 dating results show that the site is dated to the Upper Paleolithic(45,065-38,049 Cal BP ).

    The lithic assemblage (N=2030) includes hammerstones (N=4, 0.20%), cores (N=77, 3.79%), debitage (N=1828, 90.05%), tools (N=110, 5.42%) and bipolar evidence (N=11, 0.54%). Dominated by siliceous dolomite, chert and andesite, raw materials for stone knapping were mainly collected as pebbles from nearby river beds. A few high-quality raw materials (such as chalcedony) may have been transported from a distance away. Most artifacts were small in size, followed by medium-sized and micro-sized pieces. The principal flakingtechnique was direct hard hammer percussion, and bipolar technique was mainly used to exploit small chert materials with high quality. Simple cores produced by hard hammer percussion were mainly flaked from a single platform, showing a certain degree ofexpedient flaking traits. Dominated by scrapers, the toolkit also included points, denticulates andnotches. Adopting a direct hard hammer percussion technique, most lithics were slightly retouched from flake blanks. The typological andtechnologicalcharacteristics of stone artifacts show that they belong to the “Flake-Tool” technological system of North China. Most mammalian were fragments cantbeidentified. The current identified species were dominated by steppe ungulates, such as deer,horses, bovids and rhinoceros. Although there was no hearth found, many charcoal chips and burned bones indicate the presence of fire use behavior.

    The Yuxian basin is an important area and channel for human migration and technological communication during the Pleistocene. The discovery and excavation of the Donggou Paleolithic site is not only a link for the sequence of technological evolution during the Late Pleistocene, but also provides valuable information for the study on human migration and adaptation behavior in the Huliu River drainage area.

    A report of 2013 excavation of the Xiamabei site in the Nihewan Basin
    WANG Fagang, YANG Shixia, GE Junyi, YUE Jianping, ZHAO Keliang, Andreu Ollé, LI Wenyan, YANG Haiyong, LIU Lianqiang, GUAN Ying, XIE Fei, Francesco d’Errico, Michael Petraglia, DENG Chenglong
    2024, 43(01):  143-156.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0074
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    The Xiamabei Paleolithic site is located on the second terrace of the Huliu River, in the southeast edge of the Yuxian Basin, a part of the Nihewan Basin. In 2013, archaeologists from the Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology carried out excavations at the site, uncovering a wealth of cultural remains. Since 2018, several institutions at home and abroad have jointly conducted systematic and multidisciplinary research on the stratigraphy, chronology, taphonomic process, paleoenvironment and cultural remains of Xiamabei. The excavation uncovered an area of 12 m2, with a depth of about 290 cm. The stratigraphy encompasses seven main layers in a floodplain environment. Layer 6, the main cultural horizon, is dated approximately 41-39 ka by AMS 14C and optically stimulated luminescence. Here we report the results of archaeological findings from Layer 6 of Xiamabei, mainly including 382 stone artifacts, 445 animal bones, a single bone tool, a charcoal-rich hearth and evidence for ochre use and processing. A variety of scientific methods were used to identify the ochre and the sediment staining, including X-ray diffraction (XRD), micro Raman spectroscopy (MR), micro-X-ray fluorescence (Micro-XRF), mineral magnetism (MM), and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Among them, mineral magnetism (MM) was, for the first time, applied on the anthropogenic ochre. With respect to the study of the stone tools, we conducted technological, microscopic use-wear and residue studies. The results indicated that stone tool manufacture was aimed towards production of small items, including blade-like forms with these miniaturized pieces hafted. The interdisciplinary research on the Xiamabei site provide us a vivid picture of hunter-gathers’ lifestyle 40,000 years ago in North China. People were living in a cool, steppe-like environment, and at Xiamabei they conducted activities around a warm campfire, grinding ochre powder for economic purposes, hafting blade-like stone tools to conduct a variety of tasks including hide and plant processing, and mostly likely, sharing food, including meat that they hunted. The Xiamabei site possesses a novel set of cultural characteristics, such as the earliest evidence of ochre processing, a unique miniaturized lithic technology with bladelet-like forms and hafted items. Located at the transition zone between the Inner Mongolian Plateau and the North China Plain, the site offers important new insights into the expansion of H. sapiens along the northern route.

    Reviews
    An overview and new insights into the Quaternary mammalian fauna from the Nihewan Basin in North China
    TONG Haowen, ZHANG Bei, CHEN Xi
    2024, 43(01):  157-183.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0007
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    The Nihewan (Nihowan) Basin attracted researcher ’s attention by its rich fluviolacustrine deposits initially and then by its diversified mammalian fossils. Currently it is a hot spot for Paleolithic archaeology, Quaternary geology and for paleontology. The Nihewan fauna sensu stricto has been regarded as the type fauna for the Early Pleistocene Epoch in North China, whose paleomagnetic age is 2.2-1.7 Ma. Whereas the further stratigraphical investigations inside the Basin have also resulted in discoveries of mammalian faunas of Mid-Late Pleistocene epochs. Elephant remains recovered in Holocene deposits at Dingjiabu reservoir were identified as Elephas maximus by a previous study, while recent dating work shows the actual age of these remains as older than 50 kyr, with a morphological study of these fossils indicating an inclusion into the species Palaeoloxodon naumanni. Up to now, more than 100 fossil localities have been discovered in the Nihewan Basin, and approximately 236 mammal species have been recognized that belong to 8 orders, 32 families, and 121 genera. Around 38 species (including subspecies) were originally established based on well preserved and diversaified fossil materials from here. Some of the taxa with important roles in forming the initial Paleoarctic fauna are early mammoth (Mammuthus meridionalis and M. trogontherii), woolly rhino (Coelodonta nihowanensis), early bison (Bison palaeosinensis) and comb-antlered deer (Eucladoceros boulei), Chihli wolf (Canis chihliensis), raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes spp.) and diverse horses (Equus spp.). Because of the cut of rivers and faults as well as the facies changes, chronological correlations among different sites in the Nihewan Basin is not easy, which makes it difficult to get a general view of evolutionary patterns of fauna. The present study shows Early Pleistocene fossil sites around the Cenjiawan (Cheng-chia-wan) platform at the southern bank of the Sangganhe (Sangkanho) River should share similar geologic ages as the type locality of Nihewan fauna sensu stricto at Xiashagou on the northern bank of the river. Fossiliferous strata in the Nihewan Basin are mainly limited to sand, silt and clay layers. Bones usually form lenticular masses or appear in piles along trenches in situ, which should be the result from transportation by water. Except for one tooth of Hystrix and a few fossils of muntjac, the Pleistocene mammalian fauna in the Nihewan Basin is exclusively composed of Paleoarctic animals, which indicates a cool steppe dominated environment.

    Research progress on the relationship between Paleolithic hominid activities and environmental changes in the Nihewan Basin
    ZHANG Zhen, WANG Ying, LI Yuecong
    2024, 43(01):  184-198.  doi:10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2024.0004
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    The Nihewan Basin in northern China has the largest number, densest distribution and most complete chronological sequence of Paleolithic hominid remains, and as such is an ideal region for the research on Paleolithic hominins and environment. Based on published data of 65 Paleolithic sites (groups) in the Yangyuan and Yuxian basins of the Nihewan, this paper discusses the relationship between Paleolithic hominid activities and environmental changes during Pleistocene. The results are as follows. 1. Sites of early Pleistocene mainly appeared 1.8 to 1.0 Ma BP, and were distributed in the northern margin area of the Cenjiawan platform. In the Middle Pleistocene (i.e., after 0.78 Ma BP), with reduction of the paleolake, the range of hominid sites expanded significantly from the Early Pleistocen. These sites were distributed not only in the southern margin of the Cenjiawan platform and the Yuxian basin, but also in the other margins of the ancient lake, such as the central and western parts of the Yangyuan basin. In the Late Pleistocene (i.e., after 0.126 Ma BP), the range of hominid sites further expanded, but with the gradual disappearance of the Nihewan paleolake and the formation of the Sanggan and Huliu rivers, the distribution pattern of sites changed to concentrate on the river terraces reflecting a dependence on water sources. 2. More than 80% of Early-Middle Pleistocene hominid sites correspond to the low Earth Orbit Eccentricity, and more than 70% sites correspond to the Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) interglacial stage, which showed that the climate was relatively warm and with small fluctuations; suitable climate conditions for hominins. 3. During periods of hominin occupation, plant types are mostly steppe dominated by Artemisia and Chenopodiaceae, or forest-steppe dominated by Pinus, mixed with some broad-leaf tree species such as Betula, Ulmus and Quercus. The overall biodiversity was high, which provided not only rich food sources but also relatively wide spaces for hominin occupation. 4. In the Late Pleistocene, advances in stone technology and the use of fire, humans began to appear in later cold glacial periods.