A Comparative Study of the Emergence of Ground Stone Technology in North and South China


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)




In East Asia, most research on the Paleolithic-Neolithic transition has been devoted to incipient ceramic technology and agriculture, but little to manufacture-ground stone tools. This study argues that analysis of the emergence of manufacture-ground stone technology provides allows understanding of the broader dynamics of technological decision-making. The emergence of ground stone technology in China was linked to climatic and biotic changes augmented by a desire to minimize risk. After the appearance of this technology, several factors acted to inhibit further major tool innovations, including a positive cost:benefit ratio, versatile functionality, and a relatively stable climate. Manufacture-ground stone technology, in conjunction with other tools, refined emergent Neolithic toolkits in ways that reduced the need for further innovation. These hypotheses are tested by: 1) artifact analysis and experimental and use-wear studies; 2) AMS radiocarbon dating; 3) climatic and environmental reconstruction; and 4) additional field investigations. It focuses on four sites, with supplemental data obtained from other contemporary sites. These approaches collectively allow sufficient chronological control of interpretations concerning human-technology-environmental interactions and technological decision-making at macro- and micro-regional scales.