XISHI (Chine) - First Discovery of Stone blade Industry in the Central Plains
First Discovery of Stone blade Industry in the Central Plains Hinterland –An archaeological Breakthrough of Xishi Paleolithic Site in Dengfeng, Henan
The School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University and Zhengzhou provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology jointly conducted an excavation in the Xishi Paleolithic site located in Daye town, Dengfeng city, Henan province from May to July 2010. For nearly two months work, the excavated area was about 50 square meters.
The Xishi Paleolithic site is situated in a second terrace left to the Weishui River, which consisted of two cultural layers. Only one flint flake was unearthed from the upper cultural layer and it is believed that this item was a leftover from the inhabitant by chance. The lower cultural layer was 250-280 cm below ground and 8000 stone artifacts were yielded. These artifacts can be regarded as the major cultural deposit in the Xishi Paleolithic site and were produced in a rather short period. Besides, these stone artifacts were concentrated on the northeastern part of the excavation area, the area measured 6m from south to north and 4m from east to west. The distribution of most samples was concentrated within an area measured 20 cm depth. These stone artifacts including hammer, core, flake, blade, small blade, tools as well as raw flint materials transported by the worker. Large quantity of byproduct of stone tools processing such as broken, crack, and scrap fragments were identified. Judging from these stone artifacts and distribution pattern, it is noted that the entire operational chain of stone blade production has remained intact and the technical characteristic of stone tools processing has been clearly revealed.
Raw materials of the stone blade and other related tools excavated in the Xishi Paleolithic site were mainly flint, only few amount of them were made of quartz, quartz-arenite and agate.
There are about a thousand flakes excavated from the site and the percentage of typical stone blade is more than 20%. Stone blades remained in the site were typical but their shape were irregular, some of them were thick back and large curvature which were not suitable for rough out or compound tools so that they were left on site. The percentage of stone blades of the site will be higher if the number of useful take-out stone blades was counted.
Another directly evidence showing the existence of stone blade in Xishi industry was that the high proportion of the discovery of blade core or broken blade core. Only few normal cores could be found. Most of the blade cores shaped in columnar or plate style. The blade was stripped continuously from a fixed surface. Scars can be identified from the stone core working surface. Some of the cores with better materials were full utilized and most of the stripped flakes were in the final stage, which cannot produce blade further.
Among the flakes discovered in the site, a large number can be found in production or re-production surface. These flakes were chipped off from the blade core surface during the production of stone blade, also was typical and symbolic item of the blade production industry.
Large amount of stone tools with symbolic features including blades with crest or feather ridge. The back of these blades contain scars and their broken side shaped in triangle with bigger radian, just like crest or feather viewed from sideway.
Few finished product tools was yielded. The typology included end scrapper, side scrapper, engraving device, pointed tools, etc and most of them were scrapper. The proportion of complete tools was relatively low in the entire stone tool production and that’s further proved the site was a workshop mainly for blade processing.
A number of small stone cores and small blades were excavated. The core appeared in columnar with numerous scars on the surface resulted from continuous chipping. The small blade was typical and the condition was identical to the regular blade with thicker ridge and bigger curvature, which were not suitable for further product for complex tool.
After Carbon 14 dating, it is believed that the Xishi site's blade-processing is somewhat 25,000 away from now. With clear stratigraphy and rich cultural findings, details of the pre-historic blade industry are retained. Moreover, the raw materials flint, pre-made core, flakes, rough out and other elements of the chipped blade within the production line can be identified. The discovery of this typical Late Paleolithic stone blade industrial relics is the very first in China and other hinterlands amongst Southeast Asia. (Translator: Li Langlin)