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      A 115,000-year-old expedient bone technology at Lingjing, Henan, China

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          Abstract

          Activities attested since at least 2.6 Myr, such as stone knapping, marrow extraction, and woodworking may have allowed early hominins to recognize the technological potential of discarded skeletal remains and equipped them with a transferable skillset fit for the marginal modification and utilization of bone flakes. Identifying precisely when and where expedient bone tools were used in prehistory nonetheless remains a challenging task owing to the multiple natural and anthropogenic processes that can mimic deliberately knapped bones. Here, we compare a large sample of the faunal remains from Lingjing, a 115 ka-old site from China which has yielded important hominin remains and rich faunal and lithic assemblages, with bone fragments produced by experimentally fracturing Equus caballus long bones. Our results provide a set of qualitative and quantitative criteria that can help zooarchaeologists and bone technologists distinguish faunal remains with intentional flake removal scars from those resulting from carcass processing activities. Experimental data shows marrow extraction seldom generates diaphyseal fragments bearing more than six flake scars arranged contiguously or in interspersed series. Long bone fragments presenting such characteristics can, therefore, be interpreted as being purposefully knapped to be used as expediency tools. The identification, based on the above experimental criteria, of 56 bone tools in the Lingjing faunal assemblage is consistent with the smaller size of the lithics found in the same layer. The continuity gradient observed in the size of lithics and knapped bones suggests the latter were used for tasks in which the former were less or not effective.

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          Most cited references 164

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          Taphonomic and ecologic information from bone weathering

          Bones of recent mammals in the Amboseli Basin, southern Kenya, exhibit distinctive weathering characteristics that can be related to the time since death and to the local conditions of temperature, humidity and soil chemistry. A categorization of weathering characteristics into six stages, recognizable on descriptive criteria, provides a basis for investigation of weathering rates and processes. The time necessary to achieve each successive weathering stage has been calibrated using known-age carcasses. Most bones decompose beyond recognition in 10 to 15 yr. Bones of animals under 100 kg and juveniles appear to weather more rapidly than bones of large animals or adults. Small-scale rather than widespread environmental factors seem to have greatest influence on weathering characteristics and rates. Bone weathering is potentially valuable as evidence for the period of time represented in recent or fossil bone assemblages, including those on archeological sites, and may also be an important tool in censusing populations of animals in modern ecosystems.
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            Breakage patterns of human long bones

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              Archaeological evidence for meat-eating by Plio-Pleistocene hominids from Koobi Fora and Olduvai Gorge

               Henry T. Bunn (1981)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: Project administrationRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: InvestigationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Formal analysisRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                6 May 2021
                2021
                : 16
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University, Qingdao, China
                [2 ] CNRS UMR5199 –PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, France
                [3 ] SSF Centre for Early Sapiens Behavior (SapienCe), University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
                Universita degli Studi di Ferrara, ITALY
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                [¤a]

                Current address: Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University, Qingdao, China

                [¤b]

                Current address: CRNS UMR5199 –PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, France

                ‡ These authors also contributed equally to this work.

                Article
                PONE-D-21-04329
                10.1371/journal.pone.0250156
                8101957
                33956805
                © 2021 Doyon et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 9, Tables: 4, Pages: 31
                Product
                Funding
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001809, National Natural Science Foundation of China;
                Award ID: 41630102 and 41672020
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Shandong University 111 Project
                Award ID: 111-2-09
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: PHC Cai Yuanpei
                Award ID: 36707NF
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Université de Bordeaux (FR)
                Award ID: Initiative d'Excellence Programme Talent
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: SFF Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) Research Council of Norway
                Award ID: 262618
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100010031, Postdoctoral Research Foundation of China;
                Award ID: China Shandong University 2018-2020
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: PHC Xu Guangqi
                Award ID: 41230RB
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Labex LaScArBx-ANR
                Award ID: ANR-10-LABX-52
                Award Recipient :
                This research was supported by grants given to ZL by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number: 41630102 and 41672020; http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/english/site_1/index.html), and by the Shandong University 111 Project (grant number: 111-2-09; https://en.sdu.edu.cn/). Funding was also provided to LD and FD by the Sino-French PHC Cai Yuanpei program (grant number: 36707NF; https://cn.ambafrance.org/-Le-programme-Cai-Yuanpei-1628-), the Talents Program of the Initiative d’Excellence (IdEx) of the Bordeaux University ( https://idex.u-bordeaux.fr/fr/), and the Research Council of Norway through its Centre’s of Excellence funding scheme, SFF Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE), project number 262618 ( https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/). LD was granted financial support from the China/Shandong University International Postdoctoral Exchange Program ( http://www.chinapostdoctor.org.cn/) and the Sino-French PHC Xu Guangqi program (grant number: 41230RB; https://cn.ambafrance.org/-Le-programme-XU-Guangqi-). PACEA (UMR5199 CNRS) is a Partner team of the Labex LaScArBx-ANR n˚ ANR-10-LABX-52 ( https://lascarbx.labex.u-bordeaux.fr/). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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