Lithic Blade Production Area Found at Fenglin Upper Palaeolithic Site, Jilin Province
Fenglin archaeological site is situated in Fusong County, Jilin Province. It has a total area of more than 30,000 square meters. Rescue excavation was carried out by Jilin Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in August 2016 to corporate with the capital construction. The site was divided into two parts – the east and the west during the excavation. There are 6 grids (Excavation Unit) in the west part, which named the 1st Excavation Area. There are 5 exploratory trenches and 2 grids (Excavation Unit) in the east part, which named the 2nd Excavation Area. The total excavated area is around 230 square meters at present.
Overlooking main peak of Moutain Changbai from the site
The 1st Excavation Area locates at the lower part of the hill. The deepest soil accumulation is more than 4 meters. It can be divided into 5 natural layers and 2 cultural layers. More than 300 lithic artifacts were uncovered during the excavation. The 2nd Excavation Area locates on the higher ground. There are 3 natural layers. As of now, around 500 lithic artifacts were uncovered from the primary deposits of both areas. Overall, the artifacts have similar styles and only small differences.
Most lithic artifacts uncovered from the 1st Excavation Area were made of obsidian and small amount of them were made of tuff or flint. The types of lithic artifacts found including complete or incomplete flakes, microblades, blades, microblade cores, general cores, graves, scrapers, and large amount of fragments. The size of the lithic artifacts is relatively small, which suggests as the by-products of the lithic artifacts production.
Accumulation layers in the the 1st Excavation Area
Similarly, most lithic artifacts uncovered from the 2nd Excavation Area were made of obsidian. However, there is a clear increase in the amount of the lithic artifacts that were made of tuff, volcaniclastic rock, andesite, flint, quartzite, and other materials. The lithic artifact types uncovered not only include all the types found at the 1st Excavation Area, but also include blade cores, large scrapers, points and others. One of the blade cores is weighing about 600 grams and has a length of 10 centimeters. A parallel blade scar is found on the surface of the blade core, which indicates that a rare chest pressure flaking method was used to take off the blade from this prismatic blade core. The shape of this blade core is very neat and typical.
Stone artifacts were unearthed from the site
Microblade core was excavated from the 2nd Excavation Area
There are nearly a thousand lithic artifacts found on the surface of the ground. The shape and style of these lithic artifacts are similar to the ones uncovered during the excavation.
Based on the uncovered lithic artifacts, the site can be determined as an Upper Palaeolithic site with the microblades. Moreover, the discovery of the prismatic blade core suggests intentional blade productions at the site. The site is assumably dated to early part of the Upper Palaeolithic period. Relevant dating and environmental analysis are in progress.
The research on the origin and evolution of modern human behavior is very popular in the Palaeolithic archaeology in recent years. Lithic blade production industries formed an important part of modern human behavior. The specification and diversity, discontinuity of time distribution, and the differences in the spatial distribution of the blade production industries are very important to the discussions such as ancient human adaptations, technological diffusions, and migrations.
There are less than 10 archaeological sites dated between 30,000 – 40,000 years to 25,000 – 29,000 years from the present clearly showing the existence of blade production industries in north part of China. Therefore, the discovery of Fenglin site provides significant materials to the research on the lithic blade production industries and diffusion. On the other hand, the deepest accumulation at the site is up to 4 meters, which provides a rare stratigraphic section for the study of optical stimulated luminescence dating, sedimentology, and pollen analysis. (Translator: LI Xuelei)