Evidence from the Dayao Paleolithic site, Inner Mongolia for human migration into arid northwest China during mid-Pleistocene interglacials

Junyi Ge, Yinghua Wang, Mingchao Shan, Xingwu Feng, Fuyou Chen, Haibin Wu, Qin Li, Xinying Zhou, Yan Li, Ruiping Tang, John W. Olsen, Chenglong Deng, Xing Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Dayao Paleolithic site, located in Inner Mongolia on the eastern margin of China's vast northwestern drylands, was a lithic quarry-workshop utilized by Pleistocene human migrants through the region. Determining the age of this activity has previously yielded controversial results. Our magnetostratigraphic and OSL dating results suggest the two artifact-bearing paleosols are correlated with MIS 5 and 7, respectively. Correlating paleoclimatic data with marine δ18O records leads us to conclude that two sandy gravel layers containing many artifacts in the lower part of the Dayao sequence were formed during MIS 9 and 11, if not earlier. Our results reveal that the earliest human occupation at the Dayao site occurred before ca. 400 ka during a relatively warm and moist interglacial period, similar to several subsequent occupations, documenting the earliest and northernmost archaeological assemblage yet reported in China's arid northwest. We conclude that the northward and southward displacements of the East Asian summer monsoon rain belt during past interglacial-glacial cycles were responsible for the discontinuous human occupation detected at the Dayao site. The penetration of this precipitation regime into dryland ecologies via the Huanghe (Yellow River) Valley effectively created a corridor for hominin migration into China's arid northwest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-129
Number of pages17
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
StatePublished - Sep 12 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Glacial-interglacial cycles
  • Green corridor
  • Hominin occupation
  • Paleoclimatic reconstruction
  • Paleolithic demography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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