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A Preliminary Study of the Bailong Cave Paleoanthropological Site in Yunxi County,Hubei Province

WU Xian-zhu1,2,PEI Shu-wen3,4,WU Xiujie3,4,QU Sheng-ming5,CHEN Ming-hui5,HU Qin6,LIU Wu3,4(1.Chongqing Normal University,Chongqing 400047;2.Institute of Archeology and Cultural Relics of Hubei Province,Wuhan 430077;3.Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100044;4.Laboratory of Human Evolution and Environmental Dynamics,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100044;5.The Cultural Bureau of Yunxi County,Hubei Province,Yunxi 442600;6.Shiyan Museum in Hubei Province,Shiyan 442000)  
Bailong Cave located in Yunxi County,Hubei Province,is an important paleoanthropological site in China.It was discovered in the 1970s and was excavated twice in the past 30 years.A large number of cultural remains including seven Homo erectus teeth,stone and bone artifacts,and many mammalian fossils were excavated from the site.In April-May 2007,a geological and geomorphological survey around the cave was conducted as well as analysis of cultural remains from previous excavations.In addition,in September 2007,the authors also carried out an exploration of the cave formation and a small test excavation exposing an area of about 6 m2.A large number of mammalian fossils,and some stone and bone artifacts were unearthed.The Bailong Cave was formed in the conglomerates,micrites and marlites of the Shaping Formation of the Pliocene.Vertical vadose was the main resorption pattern.Eight stratigraphic layers were identified at the site totaling more than 2.4 metres thick.Archaeological materials were mainly unearthed from the 2nd layer,a layer of red clay 5.0~6.0 cm in thickness.Mammalian fauna shows similarities to the late Early Pleistocene to early Middle Pleistocene mammalian fauna featured in South China,which indicates that the cave deposits(especially the cultural layers)were formed before the early Middle Pleistocene.It can be inferred from the mammalian fauna that the environment was forest-grass in a tropical to sub-tropical zone.The stone tool assemblage includes cores(4),flakes(4),retouched tools(10),chunks and debris(20).Stone raw materials exploited at the site were locally available from vein quartzite.The principal flaking technique was direct hammer percussion,followed by bipolar percussion,with most of the artifacts middle to small in size.Scrapers were the dominant tool type,followed by burins and choppers.Modified tools appeared to be retouched by direct hammer percussion,mostly unifacial retouch on the dorsal surface of the blank.The assemblage of the Bailong Cave site shows a close association with the Main Industry in North China,although this similarity may be the result of similar raw materials—vein quartzite.More detailed explanation on cave formation processes,burial features of the mammalian fossils including fragmentation,and interpretations of human occupation are further elaborated on in this paper.In addition,ESR and paleomagnetic dating was completed on some samples from the site.
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