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Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

Beijing Peking Man Fossils & History

The Peking Man site is located at Longgushan (Dragon Bone Mountain) near Zhoukoudian, Fangshan District. It is one of the most famous hominid locality in the world. The first Peking Man skull cap was discovered in 1929 by Chinese archaeologist Pei Wenzhong. He uncovered the first complete Homo erectus skull here, which became known as the "Peking Man". The Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian was added to the world heritage list by UNESCO in 1987.

It is estimated that the Peking man had lived in the Zhoukoudian area around 500,000 to 600,000 years ago. The Peking Man had great capacity to engage in creative behavior and also use and control fire.

Zhoukoudian is a small village around 50 kilometers southwest of Beijing city. The Peking Man site is located just on the west side of Zhoukoudian. The Peking Man is another representative of ape man, and these findings of Peking Man provided proof that Homo erectus is different from the ape in physical characteristics, and also in cranial capacity. The second skullcap was discovered several months later in 1930, and in 1936, 3 more complete skulls were unearthed under the charge of archaeologist Jia Lan Po.

According to brief statistics made in 1955, the excavation of the Peking Man Site took 1,873 days with extended 178,965 work days. The sediments dug out were about 20,000 cubic meters at the main localities, 4,200 cubic metes elsewhere. The restorable specimens collected were 1,221 boxes, or 375 cubic metes. To speak on the grand scale of excavation, there is no such undertaking ever in the history of excavation in the world. A brief summary of the report on the results of excavation is as follows:

The stone tools and the brought-in unused rock materials from outside are no less than 100,000 pieces and the examined items are more than 17,000 pieces.

Peking Man makes tools with vein quartz, quartz crystals, flint, and sandstones. People of this cave not only use cobble and boulder as raw material but also collected vein quartz exposed by the weathering process in the fissures of limestone, coal, and granites. Peking Man applies three flaking techniques: Block-on-Block, or Anvil technique, direct percussion, and bipolar technique.

Another mark of Peking Man's cultural progress is the use of fire. At the locality there are four ash layers interspersed relatively widely. The uppermost ash layer is found on the huge limestone floor of the third layer west to Gezitang. There the limestone floor between the west-east walls of the cave stretches 12 metes in width with a thickness of about 5 metes. Two big piles of ash residues remained on this big limestone block. Peking Man utilized the limestone floor as their habitation site so the ash residue was deposited. This piling of ash suffices to tell Peking Man had the ability to control fire.

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In 1930, the Upper Cave Man, dating back about 27,000 years was discovered in the cave on top of Longgushan (Dragon Bone Mountain). It was categorized as a homo sapiens. Today, the Peking man site at Zhoukoudian is a research base for the history of mankind, and provides a unique glimpse into the past of human development.

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