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Chinese researchers make further progress in study of ancient artifacts

Updated: Feb 8, 2023 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- Chinese researchers have recently made further progress in their study of artifacts from the Fanjiagouwan Locality at Salawusu, which is located on the southern edge of the Ordos Highlands.

Salawusu is one of the earliest Paleolithic sites discovered in China. Since their discovery in the 1920s, the Salawusu artifacts have been among the most important Paleolithic findings in East Asia.

Because of the very small sizes of the Salawusu artifacts, traditionally considered too small to study, little was known about the lithic technology and tool making skills of these hominins.

Researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Minzu University of China, the Tohoku University in Japan, and the University of Hawaii in the United States tried to reexamine stone artifacts unearthed in the 1980s at the Salawusu site.

They analyzed the artifacts at higher magnification and used 3D scans to overcome the difficulties of "reading" the reduction traces left on these very small lithics. They also conducted micro-wear analysis, in addition to a standard techno-typological study.

The research results indicate that the artifacts are indeed tiny (most of them are less than 2 centimeters in size), that the proportion of tools in the lithic assemblage is high, and that these tools are extremely exquisite.

The research also demonstrates that hominins had mastered superb techniques for making stone tools. Stones at that time were fully exploited and used.

The findings are expected to be published in the April edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

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