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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.
First, the complex deposition of interdigitating lenses of ashes, clays, and sometimes fine gravel requires systematic dating based on a series of radiocarbon determinations and this has been lacking.Because of the presence of such plant remains and early pottery, these caves are often seen as the predecessors of the early Holocene open-air Neolithic villages found in the alluvial plain of the Yangzi River and its tributaries, such as the Pengtoushan and Bashidang sites, and other settlement sites of the Pengtoushan Culture (18, 19).Paleoclimatic data for the region suggest similar trends to those reported globally (20). 23,000–18,000 cal BP led to lower temperatures and increased aridity, with average temperatures in the Yangzi basin ca. Deciduous trees were increasingly replaced by grasses (22, 23).The Terminal Pleistocene warming was interrupted by the Younger Dryas ca. Although the Younger Dryas is seen in other regions as a generally cold and dry period, in South China the main effect of the Younger Dryas was probably the sudden onset of greater seasonality.Understanding the local impact of the Younger Dryas on the basin of the Yangzi River and in particular in the limestone region south of the main river channel is still not possible (20).