Astride the Movius Line: Late Pleistocene lithic technological variability in Northeast Asia
AuthorBrantingham, Paul Jeffrey
AdvisorOlsen, John W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe North Chinese Paleolithic sequence is perplexing in its relative technological simplicity, strikingly different from the known sequences in Mongolia, Siberia and ultimately western Eurasia. The division between North China and western Eurasia, traditionally labeled the Movius Line after the pioneering work of Hallam Movius (1944), has withstood years of scrutiny. The explanation for this phenomenon, however, remains elusive. This dissertation addresses several hypotheses about late Pleistocene lithic technological variability in Northeast Asia on either side of the Movius Line. Of central importance is finding proper placement for Shuidonggou, the only know late Pleistocene locality in North China that contains a well-developed blade industry. Lithic assemblages from two cave sites in the Mongolian Gobi, Tsagaan Agui and Chikhen Agui, and the 1980 excavated collections from Shuidonggou are compared. Comparisons also feature the well-know late Pleistocene materials from Kara Bom, located in southern Siberia. These analyses illustrate that Shuidonggou is linked to the elaboration of initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) technologies in greater Northeast Asia after 43 ka. A series of theoretical and empirical questions surrounding the Northeast Asian IUP are addressed. I ask whether biogeographic processes, behavioral-ecological processes, or differential use of stone raw materials underlie observed technological disjunctions in Northeast Asia. Three primary conclusions emerge. First, biogeographic processes are implicated in the patterning of lithic technological variability in Northeast Asia. Population growth coupled with periodic opening and closing of dispersal corridors may explain the spread of IUP technologies. Second, mathematical models indicate that the uniform character of IUP core technologies is related to economic advantages inherent in Levallois core geometries. The implication is that the IUP reflects the spread of specific economic adaptations, and not necessarily a particular hominid species. Finally, the failure of prepared core technologies to take hold in East Asian environments cannot be explained by differential use of stone raw materials. Core technologies from one of the study sites illustrate that raw material quality is not an absolute constraint on technological design. Rather, the failure of IUP technologies is linked to population contraction brought on by the extreme conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
Degree ProgramGraduate College