Lithic variability and the cultural elaboration of Upper Pleistocene North China.
AdvisorOlsen, John W.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe study of Paleolithic archaeology in China has flourished over the last two decades, providing a unique perspective on the development of human culture and emergence of modern Homo. This dissertation is a comparative study of two Upper Pleistocene sites in North China: the site of Salawusu, in Inner Mongolia and the Shiyu site in northern Shanxi province. Lithic assemblages from both sites have been assigned to the broad category of "small tool tradition" as defined by contemporary Paleolithic archaeologists in China. This study addresses the nature of the variability within this tool tradition as it relates to reduction strategies, the organization of prehistoric technology and the role that resource type and availability played in this organization. A critical discussion of the radiocarbon dates for these sites and a correlation of the stratigraphy with the Oxygen Isotope chronology and paleoenvironmental evidence, suggests that these sites are separated by a much greater temporal span than their radiocarbon dates have indicated. The interpretation of the Salawusu section proposed in this study correlates the cultural materials recovered in the 1980 excavations with δ¹⁸O Stage 5 while the Shiyu remains are correlated with δ¹⁸O Stage 2. The lithic analysis documents quantitative and qualitative differences between these artifact assemblages which also call into question the closeness of their relationship. The Shiyu lithics are a homogeneous collection dominated by elongated flakes, blades, points and implements fashioned on these. The Salawusu assemblage is less standardized and shows no trend toward flake elongation or blade technology.