Re-Dating Shuidonggou Locality 1 and Implications for the Initial Upper Paleolithic in East Asia

Recent AMS dating at Shuidonggou Locality 1 indicates that a 40 − 43 cal ka date for the inception of Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP), blade-oriented technologies in East Asia is warranted. Comparison of the dates from Shuidonggou to other Asian IUP
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  REDATING SHUIDONGGOU LOCALITY 1 AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE INITIAL UPPER PALEOLITHIC IN EAST ASIA Christopher Morgan 1  • Loukas Barton 2  • Mingjie Yi 3  • Robert L Bettinger  4  • Xing Gao 3  • Fei Peng 3 ABSTRACT.  A review of recently published temporal data from Shuidonggou Locality 1 indicates that a 40–43 cal ka date for the inception of Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) blade-oriented technologies in East Asia is warranted. Comparison of the dates from Shuidonggou to other Asian IUP dates in Korea, Siberia, and Mongolia supports this assertion, indicating that the initial appearance of the IUP in East Asia generally corresponds in time to the uorescence of the IUP in eastern Europe and western Asia. This conclusion preliminarily suggests that either a version of the IUP srcinated independently in East Asia  just prior to 40 cal ka, or more likely, that an early, initial diffusion of the IUP into East Asia occurred ~41 cal ka, a hypothesis consistent with current estimates for the evolution or arrival of modern humans in the region. INTRODUCTION In Asia, the Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) consists of behavioral innovations dating between ap- proximately 41 and 28 cal ka that are distinguished in large part by the production of blades using Levallois or Levallois-like techniques and artifact assemblages exhibiting attributes of both Middle and Upper Paleolithic prepared-core reduction strategies (Kuzmin and Orlova 1998; Bar-Yosef and Kuhn 1999; Kuhn et al. 1999; Bar-Yosef 2007). Given this, the Asian IUP has not surprisingly been linked to both the European Middle Paleolithic (MP) and to the evolution or spread of anatomically modern humans, or at least modern human behaviors, in or into East Asia during the Late Pleisto-cene (Henshilwood and Marean 2003; Klein 2008; Norton and Jin 2009; but see Shea 2011). The IUP is consequently of considerable import to understanding the evolutionary and perhaps the dem-ic relationships operating between Europe and Asia during the Late Pleistocene and to identifying how Upper Paleolithic (UP) behaviors proliferated across Eurasia between approximately 45,000 and 25,000 yr ago (Kuhn et al. 2004; Bar-Yosef and Wang 2012; Guan et al. 2012; Qu et al. 2013).Given the materials that dominate most assemblages, it is not surprising that descriptions of the Eurasian IUP focus on lithic technologies. These have been termed, among others, lepto-Levalli-osian  (Kuhn 2004), which consists of blades struck from prepared cores that exhibit evidence of Levallois or prismatic reduction techniques, retouched blade tools, blade blanks showing extensive  platform preparation, and elongate Levallois points. Some assemblages contain MP tool types like side scrapers and denticulates. In others, tools more characteristic of the UP, such as endscrapers,  burins, and truncations are present. Others contain both MP and UP tool types (Derevianko 1998; Kuhn et al. 1999). Descriptions of other behaviors are scant, save that hunting was likely a principal economic activity, and one that at least in some regions may have targeted more diverse prey species when compared to the preceding MP (Kuhn et al. 2009). Importantly, some see a temporal pattern in the distribution of IUP sites, with earlier dates further west, e.g. 52 cal ka at Boker Tachtit 1 in the Levant (Marks 1983), and later dates to the east, e.g. at Shuidonggou in China (~34 cal ka, see Liu et al. 2009 and discussions below), with intermediate dates coming from locales like the Altai, e.g. Kara Bom at 46 cal ka (Goebel et al. 1993). In addition to a dearth of preceding Mousterian deposits in East Asia from which lepto-Levalliosian technologies might have developed, the IUP industries of northeast Asia are somewhat different than the IUP of western Eurasia (Brantingham et al. 2001, 2004). Together these observations may point to a separate srcin for the IUP in northeast Asia, and a subsequent southward diffusion from Siberia to northern China via Mongolia (Brantingham et al. 2001, 2004). Yet the case is far from closed. Analysis of the latest published dates from Shuidong- 1. Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno,1664 N. Virginia St., Reno, Nevada 89557-0096, USA. Corresponding author. Email: Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, 3302 WWPH, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA. 3. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China. 4. Department of Anthropology, University of California–Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, California 95616-8522, USA. Radiocarbon , Vol 56, Nr 1, 2014, p 165–179 DOI: 10.2458/56.16270 © 2014 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona    166 C Morgan et al. gou and comparison of these to Eurasian IUP radiocarbon chronologies suggests, however, that ei-ther (1) IUP-bearing groups migrating from western Eurasia became temporarily established in East Asia on the order of 5000–11,000 yr earlier than is commonly accepted or (2) that prepared-core  blade technologies developed independently in East Asia at about the same time as similar technol-ogies were becoming established in eastern Europe and western Asia. SHUIDONGGOU LOCALITY 1 In China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, some 5 km south of the Yellow River, Shuidonggou (38°17′55.0″N, 106°30′6.2″E) exhibits the easternmost expression of the IUP in Eurasia (Branting -ham et al. 2004). The site consists of 12 localities spread along 6 km of incised Late Pleistocene and Holocene uvial and lacustrine deposits containing cultural materials dating between, arguably, 35,900 and 6732 cal BP (Pei et al. 2012) (Figure 1). Locality 1 (SDG01) was the rst discovered here, in 1923, and has a long research history, though its connection to “evolved Mousterian” and “emergent Aurignacian,” and hence to the European MP and UP, was noted from the start (Licent and Chardin 1925; Boule et al. 1928; Bordes 1968). The most substantial work at Locality 1 oc-curred in 1980, when the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region’s Institute of Archaeology excavated a 15-m-deep trench that resulted in the stratigraphic section evident at the locality today (Ningxia Museum 1987; Ningxia Provincial Institute of Archaeology 2003). The upper 8 m of this section are still visible; the lowest strata are now buried in ll (Figure 2). More recent studies focus on re-in -terpreting the locality’s stratigraphy and artifact assemblages, noting that SDG01 contains some of the oldest cultural deposits at the greater Shuidonggou site as a whole, making it critical to under-standing the inception of the IUP and UP in East Asia (Chen et al. 1984; Li et al. 1987; Sun and Zhao 1991; Gao et al. 2008; Liu et al. 2009; Wang et al. 2009; Guan et al. 2011; Peng et al. 2012). Figure 1 Map of the 12 localities comprising the Shuidonggou site  167  Redating Shuidonggou Locality 1 The locality contains Holocene and Late Pleistocene cultural deposits, the latter identied by ve strata (i.e. Strata 3–7) (Liu et al. 2009; Pei et al. 2012). Earlier interpretations (Madsen et al. 2001), however, identify three Pleistocene strata (strata 6–8, the latter subdivided into substrata 8a, 8b, and 8c). Determining the correspondence between these two basic interpretations is hampered by differ- ences in description, scale (or lack thereof), and resolution of each reported prole, but the general sequence of each is equivalent (Figure 3). Using the earlier prole (reported in Brantingham et al. 2001 and Madsen et al. 2001), however, it is clear that the majority of the Pleistocene cultural ma-terials are from Stratum 8b; strata 6 and 7 contain likely redeposited Pleistocene artifacts (Madsen et al. 2001). These artifact-bearing strata roughly correspond to strata 3, 4, 5, and 6 (also named the lower cultural level [LCL]) in Liu et al. (2009), Pei et al. (2012) and Li et al.’s (2013) more recent syntheses. Li et al. (2013) further subdivide the LCL into LCL layers A and B, with LCL A roughly corresponding to Liu et al.’s (2009) Layer 3 and LCL B roughly corresponding to layers 4, 5, 6, and 7. Importantly, cultural materials recovered from the Pleistocene strata consist of over 5500 artifacts made mainly on locally available quartzite and silicied alluvial clasts and more rarely on smaller cryptocrystalline pebbles. These include a relatively high frequency of side scrapers and denticulate tools that are more characteristic of the MP, but also prepared at-faced blade cores, blades and  blade tools, truncated blades, and unifacially retouched points made on blades or triangular akes that are generally consistent with descriptions of other Eurasian lepto-Levalliosian/IUP assemblages (Brantingham et al. 2001:743–44).Prior to 2012, there were three 14 C dates for SDG01’s Pleistocene strata that ranged from 16,760 to 40,000 14 C BP (Liu et al. 2009). Seven OSL dates for these lower strata compare favorably to the 14 C dates; these range from 15,800 to 35,700 BP (Table 1). Clear in this distribution of dates, however, is that dating the lower, Pleistocene strata at SDG01  —those containing the earliest evidence of the IUP in East Asia  —is problematic. There are several stratigraphic reversals (e.g. between Liu et al.’s layers 4 and 5), suggesting either stratigraphic mixing or methodological errors, leaving the conun-drum of which date(s) legitimately represent human use of the locality. Figure 2 A 2011 photograph of SDG01 show-ing Holocene and Pleistocene stratigraphy and 2011 AMS sample location (Photo: C Morgan).  168 C Morgan et al. Table 1. Dating results for the Late Pleistocene strata at Shuidonggou 1. Stratum 1 Stratum 2 Sample MaterialMethodLab date 3 Range cal BP 4 Citation3S1-3SedimentOSL28,700 ± 600022,700–34,700Liu et al. 20097-8aPV-331Bone 14 C16,760 ± 210 14 C BP19,600–20,640CQRA 19874S1-4SedimentOSL29,300 ± 410025,200–33,400Liu et al. 20094S1-5SedimentOSL32,800 ± 300029,800–35,800Liu et al. 20095S1-6SedimentOSL15,800 ± 110014,700–16,900Liu et al. 20096S1-7SedimentOSL17,700 ± 90016,800–18,600Liu et al. 20098bPV-317Carbonate 14 C25,450 ± 800 14 C BP 29,546–30,910Li et al. 19878bBKY82042  Equus  toothU-series34,000 ± 200032,000–38,000Chen et al. 19846S1-8SedimentOSL34,800 ± 150033,300–36,300Liu et al. 20096S1-9SedimentOSL35,700 ± 160034,100–37,300Liu et al. 20098b82042  Equus  toothU-series38,000 ± 200034,000–42,000Chen et al. 198438bUGAMS-9682CharcoalAMS36,200 ± 14041,009–41,728Peng et al. 2012 and this report 6Not reportedSilt sediment 14 C>40,000 14 C BP n/aGeng and Dan 1992 1 Per Liu et al. (2009) and Pei et al. (2012); 2 Per Madsen et al. (2001) and Brantingham et al. (2001); 3 Dates are in calendar years before present, unless otherwise noted; 4 14 C dates calibrated at 2σ with CalPal-2007 (Weninger et al. 2012) using the Hulu calibration curve. Figure 3 Comparison of SDG01 stratigraphic interpretations showing associated dating results  169  Redating Shuidonggou Locality 1 However, there is some patterning to these chronometric problems (Table 1; Figure 3). First, OSL dates, save one each in Liu et al.’s (2009) layers 5 and 6, appear generally older with depth, suggest-ing some consistency in OSL results; the two younger dates in layers 5 and 6 that result in reversals could conceivably indicate problems with determining soil moisture or dose rate in the uvial-lacus -trine sediments that characterize these layers (Murray and Olley 2002; Liu et al. 2009). Second, two of the 14 C dates appear markedly young compared to most of the OSL dates and result in substantial reversals. Importantly, these dates were derived from bone collagen and a carbonate nodule, leading Madsen et al. (2001:707) to assert that these dates should be considered at best minimum  ages due to problems associated with deriving accurate 14 C dates from these types of materials. Both Madsen (2001) and Gao et al. (2002, 2008) consequently discount these dates, which seems reasonable,  particularly with regard to the substantial reversal generated by the youngest, 16,760 14 C date (PV-331). The oldest 14 C date, at >40,000 14 C BP, however, roughly corresponds to the uranium series dates. The U series dates generally appear older than either the OSL or 14 C dates, leading previous researchers to suggest caution in their acceptance (Brantingham et al. 2001) or a tendency towards discounting them as well (Liu et al. 2009), both perspectives taking into account the methodological  problems associated with U series dates derived from bones and teeth (Chen and Yuan 1988; Rae et al. 1989; Millard and Hedges 1995; Pike and Hedges 2001). In sum, dating the Pleistocene strata at SDG01 is confounded by old and methodologically problematic U series dates, enough reversals to suggest OSL dates should be interpreted with caution, and inconsistently young 14 C dates that at  best might be considered minimum dates for occupation of the locality, or discarded entirely. De-spite the increasing use of OSL, 14 C age estimation is still the standard in archaeological dating and the most amenable for comparison with dates from other Eurasian IUP sites (Goebel 2004; Jöris et al. 2011). In any event, in light of the data discussed above, Pei et al. (2012) cautiously assess the earliest dates from all Shuidonggou localities, concluding that the earliest, i.e. the maximum , legiti-mate dates for SDG01 are around 25,000 cal BP, a period mostly in agreement with earlier research wary of accepting the earlier dates at the locality (Brantingham et al. 2001; Madsen et al. 2001), but also corresponding to the minimum   14 C date derived from a carbonate nodule from SDG01. Clearly, additional dating efforts were required. 2011 FIELD STUDIES With this context in mind, the locality was inspected to determine whether 14 C-datable materials amenable for comparison to the locality’s OSL dates were present in the section. Close examination identied several small ecks of charcoal in the upper portion of Stratum 8b (per Madsen et al. 2001), which roughly corresponds to Liu et al.’s (2009) Stratum 3 and Li et al.’s (2013) LCL A— essentially the upper portion of the main IUP artifact-bearing strata at the locality. Sediments in this stratum consist mainly of blocky silts (Liu et al. 2009). These lie 75 cm beneath a distinct 30-cm-thick uvial facies containing abundant sands, gravels, and small cobbles corresponding to Brantingham et al.’s (2001) Stratum 7 (Figures 2 and 3). The charcoal fragments are all extreme-ly small (<5 mm in length) and deeply embedded within in situ  sediments. One charcoal sample (srcinally reported but not described in Pei et al. 2012) from a cleaned portion of the section was collected and mapped into the section (Figure 3). The sample was dated at the University of Georgia Center for Applied Isotope Studies (lab code UGAMS) using the AMS method described in Vogel et al. (1984). The sample (UGAMS-9682) returned a date of 36,200 ± 140 14 C BP (δ 13 C = –23.1), calibrated at 2σ to 41,009–41,728 cal BP using CalPal-2007 (Weninger et al. 2012) and the Hulu calibration curve (Weninger and Jöris 2008) (Table 1). CALIB 6.1.0 (Stuiver and Reimer 1993) and the IntCal09 curve (Reimer et al. 2009) return the exact same results at 2σ.


Apr 28, 2018
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