As I have previously mentioned, the Paleolithic cultural tradition in East and Southeast Asia was very different from that in the rest of Eurasia and in Africa for at least 1.5 million years. In the Sino-Malayan zone, and possibly in South Asia, tools such as handaxes, picks and cleavers appeared as a result of convergent development about 1 Ma BP. These tools are functionally close to Acheulian ones, but differ from them both typologically and technologically. Moreover, on the huge territory from the Near East and possibly, the Caucasus to China, Acheulian bifaces and the Levallois knapping technique appeared after 400 ka BP. In India, too, the Acheulian appeared late. Earlier bifaces from Bori, India, dating to ca. 700 ka BP, and those found in China are a result of convergent evolution of the Lower Paleolithic tradition.


Lithic technologies, practiced in East and Southeast Asia over nearly the entire Paleolithic, were based on manufacturing tools on flakes that were detached from cores. The Levallois system was apparently unknown. No Middle Paleolithic in the European sense ever existed in the Sino-Malayan zone; rather, the industries evolved in a continuous fashion throughout the Lower, Middle and early Upper Pleistocene, and no appreciable technological changes occurred over almost one million years. This does not imply a uniformity of industries. Dozens of cultures have been convincingly described by archaeologists in the Sino-Malaysian zone; they have been based on detaching flakes from discoid, orthogonal, and other types of cores, and these flakes were used as blanks for making tools. In the second half of the Upper Pleistocene, the knapping techniques became more sophisticated, better raw materials were introduced, new types of tools appeared, and there was some evidence of bone working. It is impossible, however, to draw a distinct boundary from which the Upper Paleolithic began in that territory as compared to the rest of Eurasia (Fig. 21). There, within a chronological interval of 200–30 ka BP, changes in stone knapping techniques and raw material selection occurred, new tool types appeared. However that was an evolutionary development. The Upper Paleolithic blade industry was introduced to North China from Mongolia and Southern Siberia only ca. 30 ka BP (Fig. 22). In East and Southeast Asia, the autochthonous flake technique of stone knapping continued to be widely used along with the blade technique. The flake technique was well adjusted to local environmental conditions, so the adaptation strategies based on it proved to be no less efficient after the emergence of the blade industry. In South China and Southeast Asia, the blade-based industry played a minor role.



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