Emergence of modern humans in China: behavioral perspectives

Jan 30 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room, 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, MA
Qu Tongli (Associate Professor in Archaeology, Peking University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2019-20)
Chair/discussant: Amy Clark (College Fellow - Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University)
 
Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
 
China has been the focus of discussion on modern human origins. Human fossils found recently in South China show that modern humans emerged in China in the early Late Pleistocene (ca. 100ka BP), and add new clues to the modern human origins. However, the appearance of modern humans in North China is in a more blurred picture due to the paucity of fossils. This talk attempts to look at the issue through examining the pattern of animal resource exploitation in the Late Pleistocene. Zooarchaeological studies of the sites in northern China show a subsistence pattern characterized by hunting large mammals, especially the adult individuals during the early and middle Late Pleistocene, which is similar with that of Neanderthals in the west of Eurasia. In the late Late Pleistocene subsistence strategies changed, represented by a broadened diet and intensive exploitation. Meanwhile, bone and antler tools appeared around 30ka BP in the north. According to these changes, together with the appearance of novel lithic technology, we suggest that modern humans appeared in North China around 30ka BP.