New Large Stone Prehistoric Cutting Tools Found in China

Stone tools show similarities to Acheulean cutting tools produced by Early and Middle Pleistocene humans.

A team of scientists have uncovered large stone cutting tools (LCTs) in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR) of central China.

The tool assemblage, discovered and analyzed by Kathleen Kuman of the University of the Witwatersrand and colleagues Chaorong Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hao Li of the University of the Witwatersrand, were excavated at a site on the southeastern edge of the Qinling Mountains. The tools were preserved in three terraces of the Han and Dan rivers in Hubei and Henan Provinces, with a date as early as 800,000 years ago determined in one terrace and Middle Pleistocene and possibly Late Pleistocene in the other terraces. 

“Regional environments during the Middle Pleistocene were relatively warm, humid and stable,” summarize the authors in the report abstract. “Despite the poor quality of raw materials (predominantly quartz phyllite and trachyte for the LCTs), good examples of both handaxes and cleavers are present, plus two types of picks.”* 

Generally, the tools exhibit technological and morphological elements similar to that of Acheulean LCTs, say the study authors, “with some differences that are mainly attributed to raw material properties, subsistence ecology, and ‘cultural drift.’”*

The Acheulean is an industry of prehistoric stone tool manufacture commonly associated with early humans that lived during the Lower Palaeolithic era across Africa and much of West AsiaSouth Asia, and Europe. The early human species known as Homo erectus is most often associated with this industry, a technological tradition that is best known for the large hand-axes found at archaeological sites across the same geographic spectrum.

Handaxe-bearing sites in China have been found in a number of alluvial basins, the best known being Dingcun, Bose and Luonan. “Here we document the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR) as another major area for large cutting tools (LCTs),” report the authors in the report abstract.*


*Large cutting tools in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region, central China, Kathleen Kumana, b, , , Chaorong Lic, , , Hao Lia,, Journal of Human Evolution

Source: Adapted and edited from the abstract of the full study report in-press to be published in final at the Journal of Human Evolution.


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