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Neolithic Stone Tool ‘Production Line’ Discovered
Chinese archaeologists have discovered a Neolithic site, dating back 6,000 to 7,000 years, in suburban Baise City of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where they unearthed more than 20,000 pieces of stoneware and large quantities of other ancient relics.

The unearthed relics include complete stone tools of different sizes and types, large quantities of raw materials, such as gravel, for making stoneware, tools for making stoneware such as a hammering block and stone hammers, semi-finished products at different stages and leftover stone materials.

"This shows that the ancients made stone tools and wares at the site," said Xie Guangmao, a fellow with the research office of the Guangxi Cultural Heritage Working Team.

The positioning of the excavated stoneware, in the shape of a fan, clearly "reproduced" the scene of how ancient people made stone tools and a massive stone tool "production line" in ancient times, Xie said.

Located in a flat area where a small stream joins a river, the stoneware processing base, called the "Gexinqiao Ruins" by archaeologists, covers 500 square meters. It is so far the largest ancient stoneware production base ever unearthed in China.

The discovery shows that stone tool making existed in the Baisearea as a kind of industry about 6,000 years ago, Xie said, addingthat the "production line" provides new evidence for the study of the division of labor in ancient times.

In the excavation area, archaeologists also found the teeth and skeletons of a dozen animals including elephants, rhinoceros, monkeys, bears, deer, wild boars and fish. The findings from the site also include potsherds, stones of olive and potter's clay.

The unearthed stoneware reveals every step in processing stone tools, which is helpful for Chinese archaeologists to restore the ancient stone tool "production line", Xie said.

Since 1973, archaeological workers have excavated more than 70 Stone Age ruins in the Baise Basin, which covers an area of 800 square kilometers. The most noticeable discovery has been a stone hatchet dating back 800,000 years.

The techniques used to make them and the shapes of the unearthed stone tools in Baise city feature both the styles of Palaeolithic and Neolithic stone tools of the Baise area, and some are quite similar to stone tools unearthed in other parts of Guangxi and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, according to Xie.

Xie said the discovery of the Gexinqiao Ruins is of significant importance in the study of the development and evolution of Palaeolithic stone tools in the Baise area, economic activities, the environment and lives of ancient people in south China.

With the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau behind it and looking towards Southeast Asia, the Baise Basin is in a pivotal location for the study of the origin and evolution of mankind, and early human migration and spreading into the east and west, according to Xie.

Xie and his colleagues also found two tombs of the Neolithic Age during their recent excavation at the "Gexinqiao Ruins". Xie said that this was the first time that Neolithic Age tombs had ever been found in Baise Basin.

In each of the tombs, archaeologists found two skeletons of humans who were on their backs with their limbs bent.

Similar tombs of the same time period had been previously unearthed in Yongning County in Guangxi and in Vietnam, according to Xie.

(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2003)

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