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Use-wear evidence confirms the earliest hafted chipped-stone adzes of Upper Palaeolithic in northern China

DOI: 10.1007/s11434-009-0566-8

Keywords: the end of Late Pleistocene,Hutuoliang site,adze-shaped object (ASO),use-wear analysis,composite tool

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Chipped-stone “adze-shaped objects” (ASOs) were identified from a few Upper Palaeolithic sites in northern China. Its morphological form resembles to ground-stone type-specific adze, but the function of the ASO has never been assessed. The objective of this study is to investigate the use function of this particular tool type recovered from the Hutouliang site in the Nihewan Basin of northern China. In this study, the lithic use-wear analysis is applied to examining microscopically edge-damages and surface-rounding of the tools in order to assess how they were employed. The result suggests that the ASO might have been used as woodworking tools with a hafted shaft, providing evidence for the appearance of the earliest hafted chipped-stone adzes prior to 10000 years ago in northern China. This study also demonstrates that the use-wear technique is an innovated and effective analytic appraoch to the study of stone tool functions that has been conventionally treated by typo-technological analyses. Stone tool use-patterns revealed by use-wear evidence would shed new insights on prehistoric adaptive strategies of modern human in northern China.


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