In South China and mainland Southeast Asia, the lithic industry called the “cobble-tool industry” dominated throughout the Pleistocene and persisted until the middle Holocene. Although this term has long been used to characterize the lithic industry and to compare the Paleolithic cultures interregionally, it is really just a description of the raw material used by the lithic industry, lacking any indication of essential technological information about lithic production. As a result, the term loses utility when we compare the lithic industries of different sites in South China and mainland Southeast Asia, because both regions' lithic industries are characterized by cobble/pebble raw material during their prehistory. In this paper, we studied the lithic collection of the Bailiandong Cave, an important site in Guangxi, southern China, dating back to 36–7 ka, from a new technological perspective, and revealed the chaînes opératoires of production and the objectives of prehistoric knappers. After a concise comparison with the Hoabinihian techno-complex in mainland southeastern Asia, the long-lasting suspicion about the Hoabinhian elements in this site was dispelled. So, technological analysis did construct a solid foundation to redefine the cobble-tool industry in South China and to reveal the variability of lithic industries on a larger regional scale. The application of this approach to more sites is expected to help to decipher more clearly the technological and cultural scenario of prehistoric humans in South China and adjacent Southeast Asia.
Lithic technology, Bailiandong Cave, South China, cobble-tool industry, Hoabinhian, Southeast Asia