Shuidonggou (Chine): Re-examination of the dates of large blade technology: A comparison of Locality 1 and Locality 2

Feng Li,  Steven L. KuhnXing Gao, Fu-you Chen

Source -

Journal of Human Evolution


The presence and age of large blade technology at the Shuidonggou site is a pivotal issue in discussions of the spread of blade technology in East Eurasia. Madsen and colleagues' influential work uses the dates (24,000–29,000 rcy BP [radiocarbon years before present]) they obtained from Shuidonggou Locality 2 to estimate the age of blade technology in this region, and suggested a very late arrival of Levallois-like blade technology from the north. This paper re-examines the evidence for the age of blade technology at Shuidonggou by comparing the lithic assemblages from the new excavations at Locality 2 with those from Locality 1. Several important points are demonstrated: (1) the lithic industry of cultural layers 1 through 4 at Locality 2 is not based on large blades, so reported dates from these layers cannot be an indicator of the age of large blade technology; (2) comparing Locality 1 and 2, the age of large blade technology appears to be around 34,000–38,000 calendar years BP (before present) in this region, suggesting a relatively rapid technology dispersal from the west and/or north; (3) the so-called ‘Shuidonggou lower cultural layer’ at Locality 1 includes both large blade and simple flake industries.


Figure 2. Cumulative stratigraphic profiles and cultural layer division at SDG1 and SDG2 (modified after Ningxia Museum et al., 1987; Liu et al., 2009). (a) SDG1 profile reported by Ningxia Museum et al. (1987); (b) SDG1 profile described by Liu et al. (2009); (c) SDG2 profile described by Liu et al. (2009). 1, fine sand; 2, silt; 3, sand and gravel; 4, carbonate nodule; 5, hearth figure; 6, clay-rich silt; 7, silt; 8, fine sand; 9, mudstone; 10, gravel; 11, peat; 12, peat band; 13, carbonate nodule; 14, stone artifact; 15, animal fossil; 16, charcoal.

1-s2-0-s004724841300002x-gr3.jpg Figure 3. Cores and retouched tools from SDG2. 1, 8 are from CL1a; 2–7 are from CL2; 9 is from CL3; 10 is from CL5a; 11 is from CL7. 1–4: sidescrapers; 5–7: endscrapers; 8, 9: free-hand percussion cores; 10, 11: blade cores.