Optically stimulated luminescence ages for human occupation during the penultimate glaciation in the western Loess Plateau of China

  The chronology of few Palaeolithic sites in the Loess Plateau of China has been well investigated for the Middle Pleistocene. In this study, the Yangshang Palaeolithic site with significant archaeological remains, located in Gansu Province of the western Chinese Loess Plateau, was dated using blue-stimulated optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) techniques on eight medium-grained (45–63 mm) quartz and polymineral samples through the Palaeolithic sequence. Except for one sample from the upper cultural layer (55±3 ka), age estimates obtained by quartz OSL dating exceed its upper datable limit, and so an elevated temperature post-IR IRSL SAR protocol was used on 45–63mm polymineral grains to derive a
numerical chronology for the site. The luminescence ages of seven samples from six cultural layers lie between 104±5 and 220±11 ka; for the three main cultural layers the results varied from 149±9 to 186±10 ka, consistent with the presently observed stratigraphy. The dating results shown that early hominins may have occupied this region in the western Loess Plateau of China during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7, early glacial MIS 6 and early interglacial MIS 5, reflecting their ability to adapt to variable environments.
Figure 2. (a) Photograph showing the Yangshang stratigraphic section and the position of the OSL samples. (b) The correlation between the OSL ages and loess–palaeosol sequence at the Yangshang site. The assignment of units L1, S1, L2 and S2 is made on the basis of the new OSL ages and also a combination of lithological characteristics (colour changes/particle size variations). Closed red circles: post-IR IRSL SAR ages; open blue circle: quartz SAR age.
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