Despite almost a century of research, the Chinese Paleolithic chronocultural sequence still remains incomplete, although the number of well-dated sites is rapidly increasing. The Chinese Paleolithic is marked by the long persistence of core-and-flake and cobble-tool industries, so interpretation of cultural and social behavior of humans in East Asia based solely on comparison with the African and western Eurasian prehistoric sequences becomes problematic, such as in assessing cognitive evolutionary stages. For the Chinese Paleolithic, wood and bamboo likely served as raw materials for the production of daily objects since the arrival of the earliest migrants from western Asia, although poor preservation is a problem. Contrary to the notion of a “Movius Line” with handaxes not present on the China side, China does have a limited distribution of Acheulian bifaces and unifaces. Similarly, Middle Paleolithic assemblages are present in the Chinese sequence. Although the available raw materials have been assumed to have limited applicable knapping techniques in China, this notion is challenged by the appearance of microblade industries in the north in the Upper Paleolithic. In the south, early pottery making by foragers emerged 20,000 years ago, thus preceding the emergence of farming but heralding the long tradition of cooking in China.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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