After the blades: The late MIS3 flake-based technology at Shuidonggou Locality 2, North China
Contrasting with the predominance of blade-based assemblages in the Eurasian Upper Paleolithic, the large-scale persistence of a core-and-flake technology remains one of the defining features of Late Pleistocene lithic technology in East Asia. In North China, Shuidonggou is an exceptional site where both technologies are documented, therefore, it is an important archaeological sequence to understand regional technological evolution during the Marine Isotopic Stage 3. Blade technology first occurred at Shuidonggou Locality 1 and 2 around 41 ka cal BP while core-and-flake assemblages were widespread in North China. However, systematic technological studies on assemblages postdating 34 ka cal BP have not been conducted to examine whether the blade technology appeared and disappeared over a short yet abrupt episode, or persists and integrates into other forms in the region. Here, we conducted qualitative and quantitative analyses to reconstruct lithic productions on the assemblages at Shuidonggou Locality 2, dated after 34 ka cal BP. Our results show that there is a total absence of laminar elements in stone artifacts dated to 34–28 ka cal BP at Shuidonggou. Instead, we observe a dominance of an expedient production of flakes in the younger assemblages, illustrating a rapid return to flake-based technology after a relatively brief episode of stone blade production. Combining archaeological, environmental, and genetic evidence, we suggest that this technological ‘reversal’ from blades back to core and flake technology reflect population dynamics and adaptive strategies at an ecological interface between East Asian winter and summer monsoon.
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