Epipaleolithic/early Neolithic settlements at Qinghai Lake, western China

David Rhode, Zhang Haiying, David B. Madsen, Gao Xing, P. Jeffrey Brantingham, Ma Haizhou, John W. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Transitions from terminal Pleistocene Upper Paleolithic foraging to Holocene Neolithic farming and pastoralist economic orientations in the northern Tibetan Plateau are examined from the perspective of Epipaleolithic sites located near Qinghai Lake, Qinghai Province, western China. Jiangxigou 2 is an artifact-rich, multicomponent midden site with the main period of occupation dating ca. 9000-5000 cal yr BP, containing abundant flaked stone artifacts including a substantial proportion of microlithic tools, abundant faunal remains including gazelle, deer, and sheep, and a small number of ceramics, including the oldest known on the Tibetan Plateau. Heimahe 3, on the other hand, is a brief hunter's camp dating ca. 8450 cal yr BP, with evident affinities to late Upper Paleolithic camps in the same region that date several thousand years older. The two distinctively different sites are probably nodes within a single Epipaleolithic foraging system that developed on the margins of the high Tibetan Plateau during the early Holocene, and that served as a basis for colonization of the high-altitude Plateau at that time. Jiangxigou 2 appears to be connected to early Neolithic agricultural settlements along the upper Yellow River (Huang He) drainage during the middle Holocene, and may provide insights into forager-agriculturalist interactions that lead to the development of pastoralist systems in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-612
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Epipaleolithic
  • Forager-farmer interactions
  • Neolithic
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • Western China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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