Luminescence chronology and lithic technology of Tianhuadong Cave, an early Upper Pleistocene Paleolithic site in southwest China
© Copyright University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2019. Tianhuadong is a cave site located in the northwest of Yunnan Province, China. Since 2010, several surveys and one test excavation have yielded more than 1000 stone artifacts. The lithic assemblage shows some features of Levallois and Quina technologies, similar to those found in Middle Paleolithic sites in the Western Hemisphere. In this study, we summarize the lithic industry and propose a reliable chronology for the site using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of individual quartz grains extracted from sediments. We applied the standardized growth curve method to deal with the problem associated with the saturation in natural OSL signals in quartz. Our dating results yielded ages of 90-40 ka, suggesting that the associated lithic assemblage could be assigned to Marine Oxygen Isotope Stages 5 and 4 and could potentially represent Middle Paleolithic technologies. Because the number of Middle Paleolithic sites in southwest China is small, this site provides one of the few traces of human occupation in southwest China during the early upper Pleistocene. Thus, it is important for understanding hominin evolution and dispersal in this region.