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Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site

head portrait of Peking ManZhoukoudian Peking Man Site is located at the foot of the Longgushan (Dragon Bone Mountain) near the town of Zhoukoudian, Fangshan District, about 50 kilometers southwest from Beijing. Also called "the Home to Peking Man", it is the most widely known hominid locality in the world.

The history of Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site

In 1918, Johann Gunnar Andersson, a famous Swedish geologist and archaeologist made a survey at Zhoukoudian around and found a lot of rodent fossil. Then the excavations at Zhoukoudian began in 1 921 under the direction of Andersson and Otto Zdansky, an Austrian paleontologist, brought along the first hominid remains, two human teeth. In December 1929, Pei Wenzhong, a Chinese archaeologist and paleoanthropologist discovered the first complete Homo erectus (Pithecanthropus erectus) skull cap on Dragon Bone Mountain, which was then named the Peking Man. The discovery was earthshaking at the time and attracted great attention from scientific circles. The important archaeological discovery is solid proof of the existence of Peking Man, who lived 500, 000 to 600, 000 years ago in the area, providing important material for the studies of the early biological evolution of human beings and the development of culture in the early stage, as laid the foundation for the Homo erectus in the evolution of mankind as well. Since 1935, excavation was under the charge of Jia Lanpo, a world famous archeologist. In the following excavations, the most fruitful year was in 1936, three complete skullcaps were unearthed.

During the excavation of couple of years, archaeologists unearthed such fossil remains as 6 skulls, 12 fragments of skull, 15 mandibles, 157 teeth and countless fragmented bones belonging toThe cave of Ape-man in Zhoukoudian site 40 individual Peking Men, male and female, old and young, all at the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site. Together with those fossils were large numbers of mammal fossils that were the preys of Peking ape men, thousands of stoneware that were production tools of the Peking Men, and multi layers of ashes baked earth that were cinders remains left by the use of fire. Zhoukoudian, therefore, became the most common site for human remains with the most abundant fossils in the world from the same period.

All these discoveries from Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site have conclusively proved that the Peking Man had been distinguished from anthropoid. They possessed greater capacity of brain-1,088 ml. on the average (that of modern man is 1,400 ml.), and was able to engage in creative behavior, develop culture, as well as use, control and keep fire. The discovery of Peking Man enabled one to solve the long-lasting polemics that had continued since the discovery of Java man in the 19th century and proved that Homo erectus evolved from the ape. It has established the erect man stage which occupies the intermediate stage in human evolution. The achievement has soon received academic acknowledgement, and brought a sudden progress in the theory of human origin and evolution. Peking Man stands as an everlasting monument in the history of paleoanthropological research, and concurrently, Zhoukoudian became an onsite class. room of the developing history of the mankind.

Upper Cave Man

In 1933, the Upper Cave Man, with an estimated age of 18, 000 years, was discovered in the cave on top of the Dragon Bone Mountain in Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site. It was categorized in Homo sapiens in late development of the mankind. Unearthed fossils included stoneware, bone needles, and bone decorations. In 1960s, the New Cave Man, who lived 1 00, 000 years ago, in the age between the Peking Man and the Upper Cave Man, was discovered. It was coupled with large quantities of mammal fossils.

The first complete skull-cape of Peking ManIn one of the greatest scientific tragedies of last century all of the Zhoukoudian hominid materials discovered before World War II were lost during an attempt to send them to the United States during the Anti-Japanese War. In December 1941, relationship between Japan and the US was deteriorating. Professor Franz Weidenreich, a well known anthropologist, decided to continue his study of Peking Man at the New York Natural History Museum. He suggested that the fossils be transferred there for safekeeping, and promised that the fossils would be returned to China after the war. However, after the Pearl Harbor Incident of December 8, 1941, Japanese army seized all American organizations in China. From then onwards, all precious fossils including skulls of Peking Man and fossilized remains of Upper Cave Man disappeared. Their whereabouts is still a mystery.

In June 2003, archaeologists found the fossils of the Homo sapiens in the late period of the Upper Cave Man in the Tianyuan Cave, which was the only evidence of human fossils of the Upper Cave Man extant in Beijing, and to some degree, makes up for lost fossils. Also discovered were many fossils of ancient animals, 26 species of which have been identified to be mammal.

In 1953, a museum of Peking Man was established at the site and opened to the public. To protect and conserve the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site well, the State Council announced in 1961 the designation of the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site as one of the first key cultural relic units under state protection. It was formally inscribed on the World Heritage List in December 1987 by the UNESCO.

 

Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site Tour

With such a high reputation and the fame, Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site is the place really worth visiting during your trip to Beijing. During the tour to Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site, travelers will get a deep understanding about the Peking Man in ancient times.