International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2023 (Vols. 1-61)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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'Bar-Yosef O, , 2015: Chinese Palaeolithic Challenges for Interpretations of Palaeolithic Archaeology. Anthropologie (Brno) 53, 1-2: 77-92'.
The development of prehistoric studies in Europe and Western Asia has powerfully influenced the terminology and conceptual frameworks of Palaeolithic archaeology. However, attempts to impose these on archaeological records elsewhere, such as East Asia, risk seriously distorting interpretations of the material and a failure to appreciate its significance. In particular, the Chinese Palaeolithic record provides major contrasts with that of Europe and Western Asia, and challenges prevailing notions of hominins' cognitive and adaptative capabilities based primarily on the lithic analysis. Early hominins beyond Africa were not tied to savanna environments and were able to exploit a range of habitats as a result of the flexibility afforded them by social and cognitive developments. Similarly, cultural influences conserved stone technologies, so that there is no necessary link between tool forms, cognitive ability and habitat characteristics. However, study of tool reduction sequences provides insights into the learning processes underlying the production of particular assemblages. Core and flake industries persisted in China for much of the Pleistocene, and while hand axe assemblages are known from the south of the country, they differ from those found in Europe and Africa. Levallois and several other Middle Palaeolithic industries are generally absent, although some instances are known from western and northern areas of the country. Early (> 25 kya) microlithic industries occur in north China, with late cobble tool assemblages in the south, probably coincident with the extent of bamboo forests. South China also provides examples of pottery from Upper Palaeolithic contexts dating from < 20 kya. The implications of these distinctive aspects of the Chinese archaeological record for understanding past human behaviors are briefly discussed, as are some more general issues associated with modeling early human cognition.
China Palaeolithic – Chronology – Knapping skills – Handaxes – Microblades

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