Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Liu, L., Field, J., Fullagar, R. L., Zhao, C., Chen, X. & Yu, J. (2010). A functional analysis of grinding stones from an early holocene site at Donghulin, North China. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (10), 2630-2639.


The processes that led to the transition from small mobile groups of hunter-gatherers in the Late Pleistocene to sedentary communities of the Early Holocene in north China are poorly understood. The Donghulin site in Beijing was occupied at the onset of the Holocene, and excavations have revealed a rich archaeological record for investigating the changing subsistence strategies during this transitional period. A functional study of two grinding stones (a slab and a handstone) near a burial dated to 9220–8750 cal BC at Donghulin investigated the range of plants exploited during this early occupation period. Starch residues indicate that the grinding stones were used for processing plants, and confirm processing of acorns, which is consistent with the incidence of oak in the pollen record. The usewear, with only rare patches of developed polish, suggests that plant parts of low silica content were processed, although usewear on the handstone suggests processing of two or more plant taxa. The results suggest that the use of grinding stones to process plant foodstuffs, particularly acorns, may have played a major role in the subsistence strategy during the transitional period to sedentism and agriculture in some parts of north China.