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Author:

[Boaz, Noel T.|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Boaz, Noel T.] [Ciochon, Russel L.|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Ciochon, Russel L.] [Liu, Jinyi|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Liu, Jinyi] [Xu, Qinqi|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Xu, Qinqi]

Title:

Mapping and taphonomic analysis of the Homo erectus loci at Locality 1 Zhoukoudian, China

Journal:

Journal of Human Evolution

Number:

Volume:

46

Year:

2004

Pages:

519-549

Keywords:

Excavation methodology; Autocad; Pleistocene; Cave; Pachycrocuta scavenging; Hominid; Fire; Archaeology

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Abstract:

From a detailed analysis of published and unpublished sources, we constructed a digitized three-dimensional, stratigraphically-controlled excavation grid of Zhoukoudian Locality 1 in order to assess the spatial relationships of the excavated materials. All 15 fossil Homo erectus loci were mapped on the grid. Meter cubes were used in excavation starting in 1934, and Loci H through O, established between 1934 and 1937, were mapped to within 1 m3 vertical and horizontal provenience. Loci A through G, established between 1921 and 1933, were excavated in the northernmost part of Locality 1 by unmapped quarrying, but their stratigraphic levels were recorded. We could localize Loci A through G on the grid system by utilizing locations of remaining walls, stratigraphic sections, excavation reports, excavation maps, and photographs. Loci contained skeletal elements of Homo erectus individuals scattered over areas of the cave floor of up to 9 m in diameter. Scoring of taphonomic damage on the Homo erectus sample, as observed on casts and originals, demonstrates that 67% of the hominid sample shows bite marks or other modifications ascribed to large mammalian carnivores, particularly the large Pleistocene cave hyena, Pachycrocuta brevirostris. Virtually all of the remaining Homo erectus skeletal assemblage shows breakage consistent with this taphonomic pattern of fragmentation. Bioturbation by digging carnivores is the most likely explanation for a fragment of Homo erectus Skull XI discovered 1 m below its other conjoined portions in Locus L. Carbon on all the Homo erectus fossils from Locus G, a circumscribed area of 1-meter diameter, earlier taken to indicate burning, cooking, and cannibalism, is here interpreted as detrital carbon deposited under water, perhaps the result of hyaenid caching behavior. Locus G records the close stratigraphic and horizontal association of stone artifacts with Homo erectus and other vertebrate skeletal elements, an association that is seen at other loci as well [...]
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