Remains of Stone Age culture discovered in architectural site in China
The Paleolithic period, also known as the Old Stone Age, is known for its primitive stone tools embedded in rocks dating back to 3.3 million years ago. A recent dig at an architectural site in Beijing, China, unearthed remains from the era.
Less than 100 miles west of Beijing, an archaeological site, called Xiamabei, provides a brief glimpse into the life of now-extinct Homo sapiens, where remnants of a Stone Age culture were discovered, LiveScience reported. The recently excavated site on the south bank of the Huliu River is in the Nihewan Basin, a depression in a mountainous region in northern China.
A dig some 8 feet underground has revealed a layer of “dark, silty” sediments dating to between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago, containing a treasure trove of artifacts and animal remains, among other things.
A study published in the journal Nature reports the results of archaeological finds in Xiamabei and the new set of cultural features at the time, offering important new insights into the expansion of H. sapiens along the northern route.
Life 40,000 years ago
According to co-first author and researcher Shixia Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the remains spotted “appeared to be in their original location after the abandonment of the site by the inhabitants”.
“Based on this, we can reveal a vivid picture of how people lived 40,000 years ago in East Asia.”
The artefacts were “a surprise” for co-lead author Francesco d’Errico, CNRS research director at the University of Bordeaux and professor at the University of Bergen, as it was notably the first known ocher workshop. for East Asia, and the collection of tiny stone tools suggests that specialist tool kits, like other early stone tools, predate the earliest confirmed Homo specimens, according to Britannica.
Other finds included more than 430 mammalian bones; a home; physical evidence of the use and processing of ochre; a bone tool; and over 380 miniaturized lithics, or small cut or ground stone tools and artifacts.
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Use of ocher
Researchers could not determine exactly how the pigment was used, and “distinguishing between symbolic and functional uses of ocher in material culture records is an ongoing challenge for prehistoric archaeologists,” says Andrew M. Zipkin, assistant professor at the School of Human Evolution. and Social Change at Arizona State University and a research associate at Eurofins EAG Laboratories, who was not involved in the study.
Traces of ocher on several stone tools at the site suggested that the pigment may have been used as an additive used in the treatment of hides and as an ingredient in a hafting adhesive that was used to attach handles to stone tools . Zipkin notes the possibility that the pigment was also used symbolically.
Overall, the team believes these artifacts could have been used for multiple purposes, including piercing materials, scraping hides, carving plant materials, and cutting soft animal materials. On the other hand, stemless lithics may also have been used for several purposes, such as drilling hard materials and cutting softer materials.
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