Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone collagen associated with early pottery at Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan Province, China
Yuchanyan Cave in Daoxian County, Hunan Province (People's Republic of China), yielded fragmentary remains of 2 or more ceramic vessels, in addition to large amounts of ash, a rich animal bone assemblage, cobble and flake artifacts, bone tools, and shell tools. The artifacts indicate that the cave was a Late Paleolithic foragers' camp. Here we report on the radiocarbon ages of the sediments based on analyses of charcoal and bone collagen. The best-preserved charcoal and bone samples were identified by prescreening in the field and laboratory. The dates range from around 21,000 to 13,800 cal BP. We show that the age of the ancient pottery ranges between 18,300 and 15,430 cal BP. Charcoal and bone collagen samples located above and below one of the fragments produced dates of around 18,000. These ceramic potsherds therefore provide some of the earliest evidence for pottery making in China.