Institute of Archaeology


Xin Ding

Site formation process, Pleistocene assemblages, and hominin behavioural patterns at open-air sites in lake margin environments 


Email: xin.ding.16@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Sciences



The spatial distribution of Pleistocene sites on lake margins are promising for deducing a time-averaged pattern of hominin behaviour. However, spatial patterns left by hominin activities are often altered to a greater or lesser extent by both biological and abiotic agents through post-depositional processes, especially at open-air sites. Therefore, understanding site formation process is essential for inferences on human behaviour based on archaeological assemblages. Keep this in mind, my research will involve systematic research on taphonomic signatures and spatial distributions of artefacts and fossils at open-air sites located in lake margin environments, with the aim of answering two main questions.

1)          What are the site formation processes of open-air Pleistocene sites in lake margin environments?

2)          What information about hominin behaviour can be inferred from the spatial distribution of sites?

Two case studies, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) and Nihewan Basin (China), will be used in my research. The data I will study includes excavated lithic artefacts and spatial distribution data from the following sites: HWK EE, EF-HR, MNK, FC-WEST, and FC-EAST from Olduvai Gorge; and CJW, FL, and MDG from the Nihewan Basin. These sites are all Pleistocene assemblages believed to have been deposited in open-air contexts on lake margins and have been modified to various degrees by natural agents. This data enables not only assessment of the degrees of post-depositional disturbance, but also research on human behaviour patterns. As for the methods, I will apply refitting, taphonomic, and spatial analysis in my research. 


  • BA, Museum Studies, Zhejiang University, 2016
  • MA, Archaeology, UCL, 2017

Chen, H., Lian, H. R., Wang, J., Ding, X., Fang, M. X., Hou, Y-M. 2016. Hafting wear on quartzite tools: an experimental case from the Wulanmulun Site, Inner Mongolia of north China. Quaternary International, 427, 184-192.