2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 150-13
Presentation Time: 5:00 PM


PATANIA, Ilaria, Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth ave, Boston, MA 02215, GOLDBERG, Paul, Department of Archaeology, Boston Univ, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215, WU, Xiaohong, Peking University, Beijing, China, CHI, Zhang, School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, Beijing, China, BAR-YOSEF, Ofer, Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02144 and COHEN, David, Archaeology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, ipatania@bu.edu

The cave site of Xianrendong (Jiangxi Province) is known for having produced earliest known pottery sherds (20,000 cal BP), together with a typical cobble tool industry. This cave is one of only two Upper Palaeolithic sites in South China that have been systematically sampled for radiocarbon dating coupled with geoarchaeological analysis. We present a micromorphological analysis of the formation processes of the Xianrendong deposits, investigating both the stratigraphic integrity of the pottery-containing contexts and the nature of the natural anthropogenic inputs. Using micromorphology we reconstructed a detailed history of site formation processes and post depositional processes. Results show a differentiation in spatial use and negligible disturbances within the deposits. A dumping area was identified in the eastern side of the cave, while the western side contains alluvial sediments. This research is part of a wider study involving the early pottery site of Yuchanyan (18,000 cal BP) and aims to reconstruct Late Upper Palaeolithic activities at these sites with the earliest pottery yet found. We also demonstrate the advantages of the systematic use of geoarchaeological methods (e.g., micromorphology, FTIR, and XRF) in the study of the Chinese Upper Palaeolithic.