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《ACTA ANTHROPOLOGICA SINICA》 1998-02
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A DISCUSSION ON THE SO CALLED CULTURAL RELICS FOUND AT XIHOUDU SITE IN RUICHENG COUNTY, SHANXI PROVINCE

Zhang Senshui (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology,Academia Sinica,Beijing 100044)  
Xihoudu,situated in Richeng County,Shanxi Province,is an important Early Pleistocene mammalian fossil locality.Many faunal remains have been unearthed from the site,along with some so called lithic artifacts.However,since the very beginning,those stone materials have been fallen into hot debate,for they exhibit very clear trace of water polishing.Many archaeologists,from home and abroad,believee that those lithic materials could be resulted from strong fluvial activity,rather than being made by hominid. This paper provided a brief review of the history of Early Pleistocene archaeological research in China,made a preliminary analysis and evaluation on two kinds of ‘artifacts’ and ‘fire use evidence’ from Xihoudu site. On the so called stone artifacts,through analyzing surface features of those lithic materials and comparing them with naturally broken river pebbles,it is clear that the Xihoudu ‘lithic artifacts’ resemble broken pebbles resulted from fluvial movement very much, and the evidence of their workmanship is not conclusive.About the ‘antlers with cutting marks’, it is evident that those cutting marks are very neat and straight,which are very different from the cutting marks on some currently known Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic antler artifacts found in China.The latter are usually uneven,which are unanimous with the character of the edgs of paleolithic stone tools in China.Experimental study on bones with various working materials also demonstrates that the conclusion made by Jia and Wang that those marks were produced by Early Pleistocene hominids is very disputable,and the agent responsible for the cutting marks on the antler needs to be reconsidered. On the ‘burned bones,antlers and horse teeth’,it is even not certain if those materials were really carbonized by fire,not to mention whether they were burned by man used fire or natural fire.So it is quite premature to regard them as the ‘earliest evidence of fire use by hominid’ at this moment.Much more work,particularly chemical and taphonomic analyses,need to be done in order to reveal the reality of those so called burned materials. To sum up,the Xihoudu site needs to be restudied.More fieldwork and experimental research should be carried out,and some basic studies,such as distinguishing real artifacts from eolith,starting from the recognition of the characteristics and workability of lithic raw materials in China,ought to be strengthened.Only through such studies,reasonable and realistic conclusion can be reached on some Paleolithic issues in China, such as the Xihoudu ‘cultural remains’.
【CateGory Index】: K876.2
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