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Engraved bones from the archaic hominin site of Lingjing, Henan Province

  • Zhanyang Li (a1) (a2), Luc Doyon (a1) (a3), Hao Li (a4) (a5), Qiang Wang (a1), Zhongqiang Zhang (a1), Qingpo Zhao (a1) (a2) and Francesco d'Errico (a3) (a6)...


The production of abstract engravings is considered an indicator of modern human cognition and a means for the long-term recording and transmission of information. This article reports the discovery of two engraved bones from the Lingjing site in Henan Province, China, dated to 105–125 kya. The carefully engraved nature of the incisions, made on weathered rib fragments, precludes the possibility of unintentional or utilitarian origins. Residue analysis demonstrates the presence of ochre within the incised lines on one specimen. This research provides the first evidence for the deliberate use of ochred engravings for symbolic purposes by East Asian Late Pleistocene hominins.

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