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Localities of Peiking Man Site

Peiking Man Site Index : Introduction | Discover Process | Localities | Significance
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Since the systematic excavation of the Peking Man Site in 1927, more than 20 valuable localities have been discovered and excavated.

1. The Peking Man Cave or Locality 1:
Beijing Man SiteOn the western side of Zhoukoudian Village, there are two parallel hills. The one on the east is lower and called Dragon-bone Hill. It is 220 metres long in north-south direction and 190 metres wide in east-west direction. Its peak is 140.6 metres above sea level and is 66 metres above the river bed of Baerhe. On the northern slop of the Dragon-bone Hill, there is a huge cave. Judging by the deposits inside it, the cave has a length of about 140 metres east-west, but its north-south span is about 40 metres in width at the most. Its western end is the narrowest and is only 2 metres wide. On the northern side of the cave, a fissure is extending northwards and its width is about 7 metres.
Peking Man cave is a karst cave developed in limestone of Ordovician age (about 450 million years ago). Since Zhoukouhe Stream and the karst cave were connected with each other, a quantity of sand-gravel flew inside the cave. The rough and deep ditches inside the cave were gradually filled, thereby forming a flat surface. The eastern entrance gradually expanded as weathering took place. After that, Peking Man entered the cave through eastern hill to settle there. He was at first inhabited at the eastern part of the cave near the entrance. The roof portion was completely preserved but there was sufficient light inside the cave so as to facilitate their activities without difficulty. Due to the collapse of roof rocks of the eastern cave, the entrance became completely blocked and Peking Man was obliged to turn to the western entrance of the cave. The period the cave was almost completely filled with sediments might be sometime around 230,000 years before present. When Peking Man left the cave and moved elsewhere it was no longer suitable for hominids' habitation.

Before excavation, the cave was completely filled with deposits more than 50 metres in depth. The deposits were divided by scientists into 17 layers from top to bottom. The absolute age of the 13th layer is about 730,000 years old, that is to say, layers 14 to 17 are formed before the Middle Pleistocene. Layer 10, the lowest layer bearing Peking Man fossil, is dated about 500,000 years ago, while Layer 3, the upmost layer bearing Peking Man fossil, is dated from 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Thus, Peking Man had lived in the cave for about 260,000 years.

2. Locality 4 or New Cave:
The cave is situated 70 metres south of Locality 1. It measures 4 metres high, 9.5 metres wide, and 116 metres above sea level. Its entrance is formed by a narrow and long fissure and opens southwards. Its terminal end enlarges to form a big hall. The entrance was blocked by mixed deposits. It was opened after the excavation in 1973. A left upper first molar of early Homo sapiens, an intermediate form between Homo erectus of Locality 1 and late Homo sapiens of Upper Cave, was discovered in the cave. Some paleoanthropologists call the human fossil New Cave Man. This locality yielded also a small quantity of stone tools, ash layer, burnt stone, charred bones, hackberry seeds, and more than 40 species of mammalian fossils. Its absolute age is dated about 200 000 to 100,000 years before present. Its geological age is attributed to Late Pleistocene.

3. Locality 15:
Situated 70 metres south of Locality 1, about 10 metres west of Locality 4. The original appearance of the locality was a cave or a fissure, but it completely collapsed and left only piles of broken rocks. It was discovered in 1932 and excavated from 1934 to 1937. The excavated area measures 13 metres east-west, 16 metres north-south. The deposits measure 10 metres in depth which can be divided into three layers. The upper layer is mainly of light yellow earth with worm-like wedges of calcified substance in central portions. The middle layer consists of a large mass of limestone, ash with charred bone, and hackberry seeds. The lower layer contains light reddish earth with pieces of limestone. Stone tools and mammalian fossils were distributed in all of these layers. The excavated stone tools count about 10 thousands pieces include cores, flakes, etc. It is one of the representative middle Palaeolithic industries of China. Discovered mammalian fauna is composed of 33 species, such as thick jaw deer, Gray's sika, rhinos, sheep etc. Its age is equivalent to that of New Cave, that is, the early stage of the Late Pleistocene.

Professor Jia Lanpo thinks that the New Cave and Locality 15 might connect with Locality 1 by some unknown tunnels and therefore they are worth of new excavation.

4. Upper Cave:
Situated at the upper part of Dragon-bone Hill, hence the cave was so named. The northern part of the cave is close to the southern fissure of Peking Man Cave. The original entrance of Upper Cave is open to the north. The altitude of the cave is about 125 metres. The cave is about 13.5 metres long, 5.6 metres wide and composed of 4 parts: cave entrance, upper chamber, lower chamber and lower recess. It was discovered in 1930 during investigation of the border of the Peking Man Cave deposit and was excavated in 1933-34. The bottom layer of Upper Cave was directly deposited above the first layer of Peking Man Cave deposit.

Three well preserved skulls and a skull cap of Upper Cave Man were unearthed from the lower chamber. Some pelvic and femur bones were found nearby the skulls. All human bones represented about 10 individuals. Anthropologists have attributed Upper Cave Man to Late Homo sapiens. His absolute age is dated about 27 thousand years before present. On the left side of the skull of an elderly Homo sapiens, a perforated shell and perforated fox's canine were recovered. Animal fossils of entire skeletons were found and interpreted to be there after falling into natural traps.
The deposits of Upper Cave are composed of pine tree loam and limestone breccia. The bottom earth is reddish and partly concretion. From 20 metres deep, about 860 cubic metres of deposits were removed at the time of excavation. There were 25 artifacts, a polished antler, a bone needle, 141 ornaments including 125 perforated animal teeth, three perforated shells, a perforated ovoid pebble, one perforated supra-orbital of fish, four bones perforated with transverse farrows, and 7 perforated stone beads. In addition to fish and amphibian fossils, 47 species of mammalian fossils were found. The geological age is of late stage of the Late Pleistocene.

To summarize, human or animal fossils or cultural relics were found at 26 localities in Zhoukoudian area. Among the localities yielded human fossils, locality 1 yielded Homo erectus fossils, early Homo sapiens fossils are from locality 4 or New Cave, and late Homo sapiens fossils are found in Upper Cave. As to artefacts, early palaeolithic tools were found at localities 1 and 13, middle palaeolithic tools are from localities 4 and 15, and late palaeolithic tools are found from the Upper Cave. Thus, each stages of palaeolithic industry were unearthed at different localities of the Site. Fossil discoveries representing various stages were also abundant in the Site. There are Late Cenozoic fishes from locality 14, and from the top deposit in locality 12. The mammalian fauna of Zhoukoudian locality 1 is the typical Middle Pleistocene fauna of North China and Upper Cave yielded the typical Late Pleistocene fauna of North China.

To protect and conserve the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian well, the State Council announced in 1961 the designation of the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian as one of the first State Key Cultural Heritage Units under Protection. In 1983, Beijing Municipal Government designated the Protection Area for Preservation of the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian.

The site is not only an exceptional reminder of the human societies of the Asian continent hundreds and thousands of years ago, but also illustrates that the process of hominization can only be fully apprehended on a world wide scale with the help of many such examples. Because the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian bears unique testimony to a civilization which has disappeared and bears witness to the human communities of the Asian continent from the Middle Pleistocene to the Late Pleistocene (Palaeolithic Age), it was formally inscribed on the "World Heritage List" in December 1987 at the eleventh session of UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The inscription of the Peking Man Site on the World Heritage List confirms the exceptional and universal value of the cultural site which requires protection for the benefit of all humanity. The site is therefore not only of China, but also of the world as a whole.

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