Explanations of typological variability in paleolithic remains from Zhoukoudian Locality 15, China
AdvisorOlsen, John W.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractZhoukoudian Locality 15 is one of the most important Paleolithic sites in North China. It plays an essential role in assessing Pleistocene hominid adaptation and behavior, and defining Paleolithic cultural/technological traditions and transitions in North China and greater East Asia. However, the paucity of published original research hinders the accessibility of this rich archaeological collection and forces many discussions concerning this locality speculative and far-fetched. This dissertation makes a comprehensive study of this site and the rich data-set from it. Major topics covered by this study includeGeology, stratigraphy, chronology, paleoenvironmental reconstruction, lithic analysis, and a discussion of the current practice and theoretical framework of Paleolithic research in China. The centerpiece of the study is lithic analysis, including artifact typology and variability, core reduction, tool retouch and modification, and raw material exploitation and economy. Through these analyses, a series of theoretical and empirical questions are addressed, such as the nature of stone tool variability at the site, the capability and preferences of the Locality 15 hominids in handling the available raw materials and modifying lithic tools, the restrictions of raw materials placed on stone tool technology and stylistic features, the interaction between nature and hominids at the site, and the proper placement of the Locality 15 industry in Paleolithic cultural traditions and developments in North China. This study found that sophisticated direct hard hammer percussion was employed as the principal flaking technique to exploit vein quartz at the site, which is very distinctive from the Sinanthropus industry at Zhoukoudian Locality 1. However, the presence of Levallois technology at the site, as often mentioned, cannot be verified by this study. The dominant tool type is simply modified sidescrapers. The stone tools' informal features, minimal modification, and variability in morphology and edge are perceived as closely related to raw material quality and availability and mainly the function of the original blank forms. The Locality 15 materials are also recognized as a direct challenge to the scheme of identifying a three-stage cultural transitions and models classifying distinct Paleolithic technological traditions currently prevail in North China and East Asia.
Degree ProgramGraduate College