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4 December 2012
Engraved stone from the Paleolithic era found in China

In recent years, engraved ochre, bones and ostrich eggs unearthed from various Palaeolithic sites in Africa, the Near East and Europe have attracted the attention of many scholars. However, such items are rarely encountered at Palaeolithic sites in East Asia.
     Professor Gao Xing and Dr Peng Fei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found an engraved stone artefact in a stone tool assemblage unearthed at the famous Shuidonggou Palaeolithic site, in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northwest China.
     Dr Peng Fei describes it as, "the first engraved non-organic artefact from the entire Palaeolithic of China".
     Dr Peng explains: "Although we cannot be sure of the function of these incisions, the straight shape of each line shows that it was incised once over a short time interval without repeated cutting, implying the possibility of counting or recording at that time".
     Professor Gao, director of this study, affirms: "Most of these features have been identified at Palaeolithic sites in Europe, the Near East and Africa. But in East Asia, the issue is more complex."
     Dr Peng summarises some remaining findings and uncertainties. "In addition to the engraved stone artefact, one ostrich egg bead was unearthed. The blade technology was probably introduced from the Altai region of Russian Siberia. The flake technology is typical of the Late Palaeolithic in north China. So, who created the ostrich beads and incisions?"

Edited from EurekAlert!, Examiner.com (29 November 2012)

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