Micromorphology of Hearth Features and FTIR Analysis of Clays at Xianrendong and Yuchanyan Cave: Reconstructing Pyrotechnology and Human Behaviour Connected with the Earliest Pottery
The cave sites of Xianrendong and Yuchanyan are known for having produced the earliest pottery sherds yet discovered, respectively 20,000 cal BP and 18,600 cal BP. Both of these Chinese Upper Palaeolithic sites have been systematically sampled for radiocarbon dating and geoarchaeological analysis. Through micromorphology we identified clay lined fire features and ash lenses at both caves, revealing technological behaviour concerning pyrotechnology and the manipulation of clays in the Chinese Upper Palaeolithic. Here we discuss pyrotechnology at the sites and reflect upon use and firing techniques of the earliest pottery. Low heating temperatures are confirmed at both sites through the FTIR analysis of clays and the micromorphological analysis of the ashes. For Xianrendong, FTIR analysis of sedimentary clays shows consistent firing temperatures not exceeding 400oC, suggesting the absence of kilns at the site. Our study at Yuchanyan supports the possible use of pottery on low heat open fires. This is the first step to more comprehensive investigations of production techniques, cooking practices, and human behavior related the earliest pottery. Our study also demonstrates the advantages of the systematic use of geoarchaeological methods in the study of the Chinese Upper Palaeolithic.
Cite this Record
Micromorphology of Hearth Features and FTIR Analysis of Clays at Xianrendong and Yuchanyan Cave: Reconstructing Pyrotechnology and Human Behaviour Connected with the Earliest Pottery. Ilaria Patania, Susan Mentzer, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Paul Goldberg. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430959)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16270