Zooarchaeological perspectives on the Chinese Early and Late Paleolithic from the Ma'anshan site (Guizhou, South China)

Yue Zhang, Mary C. Stiner, Robin Dennell, Chunxue Wang, Shuangquan Zhang, Xing Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Ma'anshan is a Paleolithic cave site in the Guizhou province of southern China. The total area of the excavations is ca. 48 m2, and the cultural deposit is divided into two layers representing the Chinese Late Paleolithic and the later part of the Early Paleolithic. The upper layer dates between 19,295 BP and 31,155 BP by AMS technique, and the lower layer is dated to around 53,000 BP by U-Series technique. Thousands of bone fragments were recovered from the two layers. Species abundance, bone surface modifications, skeletal element representation, and mortality patterns were studied in an investigation of assemblage formation history and patterns of prey selection and meat consumption by hominins. Interpretations of the faunal data are strengthened by reference to experimental studies and ethnoarchaeological data. The zooarchaeological data indicate that the later occupants of Ma'anshan Cave hunted mainly medium and small game animals, while the earlier occupants tended to prey upon larger animals. In the later period, hominins also made fuller use of the carcasses. The breadth of the meat diet increased with time, due to the inclusion of quick small animals (bamboo rats and birds) in the later period. The differences between the two faunal assemblages are consistent with the chronologic boundary currently drawn between the Chinese Early and Late Paleolithic ca. 30-27 ka BP, based on technological and other evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2066-2077
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Bone surface modifications
  • Chinese Paleolithic
  • Ma'anshan site
  • Mortality patterns
  • Skeletal element representation
  • Species abundance
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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