PALEOLITHIC ART MAGAZINE
IN THE LOWER PALEOLITHIC OF CHINA THE ORIGIN OF THE WORKMANSHIP OF THE TEETH AND THE IVORY
Last March, during the Asian Congress of Archaeology, held in Hawaii, Lynne Schepartz, archaeologist at the University of Cincinatti, reported on the excavations of her team, conducted for 5 years, inside an immense cave in South China, Panxian Dadong.
It was found, in a deposit of the depth of about one meter and twenty, a large amount of molars of rhinos and stegodons (the ancestors of the African and Indian elephant). This is an unexpected discovery, also because similar animals do not live in caves.
The cave has been inhabited by humans for 300,000 years. Inside, no trace of bones, only teeth, some as big as a small apple.
The hypothesis by the researchers: these ancient men used the teeth as raw material to make tools, instead of stone, which in the area was of too poor quality for such use.
Broken and burned bones were found in the cave, along with simple stone tools and 5 human teeth, one of which slightly chipped, probably to make a small scraper.
According to Dr. Shepartz, the Chinese deposit is the first to show that ancient humans also used animal teeth to make tools, namely the junction between the enamel of the rhinoceros, and the inner part of the tooth, the most apt to be chipped and the most useful for cutting. Perhaps, these tools were also used to cut bamboo, abundant in the area, but also, in turn, to make other tools, of bamboo.
We add that, , even if it has not been found in this cave anthropomorphic or zoomorphic Paleolithic sculpture , made with these teeth, however, in these findings, we glimpse the origin of a use that in China has had great development in every time, that is the production of sculptures and decorative objects in ivory and bone.
Source: English text, in
ABC.NEWS.com, with drawing, March 17,2001, "Tooth Tools
Archaeologists Find Cave Full of Rhino Teeth", by Willow Lawson
See also Science Daily
Tale Of The Teeth: Archaeologists Find Unusual Bone Collection In Chinese Cave
, by Lynne Schepartz and other researchers. March 2001, University Of Cincinnati.