Dating Shuidonggou and the Upper Palaeolithic Blade Industry in North China

By Madsen, David B.; Jingzen, Li et al. | Antiquity, December 2001 | Go to article overview

Dating Shuidonggou and the Upper Palaeolithic Blade Industry in North China


Madsen, David B., Jingzen, Li, Brantingham, P. Jeffrey, Xing, Gao, Elston, Robert G., Bettinger, Robert L., Antiquity


Introduction

Shuidonggou, located in North China ~10 km east of the Yellow River on the margins of the Ordos Desert (FIGURE 1), was first identified and excavated by Emile Licent and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1923 (Licent & Teilhard de Chardin 1925; see also Boule et al. 1928). It was re-excavated in the 1960s and again in 1980 (e.g. Jia et al. 1964; Ningxia Museum 1987), and has been the focus of numerous ancillary studies (Chen & Yuan 1988; Chen et al. 1984; Geng & Dan 1992; Sun et al. 1991; Zhou & Hu 1988). There have also been a number of re-analyses of this excavated material (e.g. Brantingham 1999; Kozlowski 1971; Yamanaka 1995), as well as a variety of attempts to fit the site within the general Eurasian Palaeolithic sequence (e.g. Bordes 1968; Li 1993; Lin 1996; Movius 1948).

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

This continued focus is the result of Shuidonggou's unique position within the Chinese Upper Palaeolithic sequence. Initially, Licent & Teilhard de Chardin (1925) considered Shuidonggou to be an evolved Mousterian with Upper Palaeolithic features, a classification supported by Bordes (1968). Early Chinese scholars (e.g. Pei 1937) also thought the site contained aspects of Middle Palaeolithic technology, but later work has placed the site firmly within the Chinese Upper Palaeolithic (e.g. Jia et al. 1964; Li 1993; Lin 1996). However, the occurrence of early Upper Palaeolithic sites in China is extremely limited (Gao 1999; Lin 1996), since only a handful of sites in China contain evidence for the use of large blade technologies, and only a few equivocal specimens were recovered from these sites (e.g. Li 1993; Miller-Antonio 1992). Shuidonggou is one of the few sites in North China that exhibits a systematic Initial Upper Palaeolithic core-and-blade technology similar to that found farther north in Mongolia and Siberia (e.g. Bar-Yosef & Kuhn 1999; Brantingham 1999; Brantingham et al. in press).

Due to the unique position of Shuidonggou, dating of the depositional sequence at the site has received considerable attention. At Locality (FIGURE 2), there are two finite radiocarbon dates of 17,250 [+ or -] 210 BP and 25,450+800 BP from the late Pleistocene strata containing the Upper Palaeolithic materials (CQRC 1987: 37). The first of these is a collagen date from what is likely a redeposited bone, while the second is on a carbonate nodule. Though potentially accurate, these dates are more safely assumed to be minimum ages due to potential problems with radiocarbon assays of bone collagen and carbonate (Pendall et al. 1994; Stafford et al. 1991). A third infinite radiocarbon date, on unknown material underlying the archaeological horizons (Geng & Dan 1992: 49), is difficult to evaluate. Chen et al. (1984) report on bone-derived U-Th ages from the `Lower Cultural Level' at Shuidonggou. These are given as 40,000-32,000 BP (see also Chen & Yuan 1988). Though not unreasonable given the character of the Shuidonggou industry, U-Th dating of bone has to be treated with extreme caution because of the uncertainty surrounding the mechanisms of uranium uptake and loss from bone tissues (Bischoff et al. 1988). In contrast, palynological evidence suggests that the late Pleistocene deposits at Shuidonggou accumulated under generally cold and dry conditions (Zhou & Hu 1988: 268). For this reason, Zhou & Hu favour a literal interpretation of the younger radiocarbon dates and suggest the Shuidonggou industry dates to the Last Glacial Maximum, about 20,000 radiocarbon years ago.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

This wide array of age estimates leaves the core-and-blade industry at Shuidonggou in chronological limbo, making it difficult to understand how it fits within the Chinese and greater Eurasian Palaeolithic sequences. During the last decade in an attempt to resolve this temporal confusion by examining exposed loess profiles along the Border River bisecting Shuidonggou (e.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dating Shuidonggou and the Upper Palaeolithic Blade Industry in North China
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.