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Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum

An Introduction to Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum

Peking Man Museum, or Zhoukoudian Anthropological Museum, is situated in the village of Zhoukoudian (Choukoutien in Pinyin Chinese, "Zhoukoudian" being to "Choukoutien" as "Peking" is to "Beijing") near Beijing, where the 1921 discovery of Peking Man (Sinanthropus pekinensis), based on the surface find of a molar, created a sensation when it was first discovered, since it was not only the first example of a prehistoric humanoid find in China, but the first such find in all of Asia. Peking Man was believed to be an example of a "missing link" between ape and man, the notion of a missing link belonging more to the imagination of lay folk than to the scholarly world of science. Further pieces of the Peking Man "puzzle" were found during initial site excavations that were conducted between 1923-1927. Findings in the site include the bone fossil, stone tools, and marks of using fire by these ancient ancestors. These discoveries are solid proofs of the existence of Peking man, a milestone in the history of the study of anthropolog


In 1929, a famous Chinese paleontologist- professor Pei Wenzhong discovered a complete ape-man skull and many bone remains like teeth and mandibles here. These valuable discoveries show that over half a million years ago the area around today's Beijing had become an Eden of human being. The continuous excavations and researches of the paleontologists for the following decades confirm that the Zhoukoudian Ruins is so far a location that boasts the most comprehensive and numerous fossils for paleontology research in the world.


Besides the finds of humanoid fossils, the scientists excavated a number of artifacts belonging to humanoid habitation such as primitive, hand-held tools - or tools lacking handles - such as stone flakes (for cutting) and stone chopping tools, where the latter is to be understood as a special stone (in the Zhoukoudian area, either quartz  or green sandstone) that has had clumps, or flakes, removed from both sides of one end of the stone by means of striking the stone at an angle with another similarly hard stone, the result being a primitive tool, with a simple cutting edge, that can be gripped in one hand. Another indicator of humanoid habitation at Zhoukoudian was the presence of layers of cinders that included the remains of charred animal bones, suggesting that animal meat had been cooked here over open fire.

The relevant studies at the site also occupy a key place in the international academic arena. Now Zhoukoudian Ruins Site was under special protection by the Chinese central government and obtained its nomination by the UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site in 1987.


Unfortunately the bulk of the finds at Zhoukoudian were lost forever, including 5 of the 6 calottes. The German anthropologist, Franz Weidenreich, the then director of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory of the Peking Union Medical College that had been set up by the Canadian paleoanthropologist and leader of the first set of Zhoukoudian finds, Davidson Black, precisely to analyze the Zhoukoudian finds so as to properly date and document their origin, had fortunately had the foresight to cast copies of all of the calottes, such that all was not lost when the Zhoukoudian finds went missing. And the efforts to relocate them are made until now.

For better preservation of the ruins, the central government built the Zhoukoudian Ruins Museum at the foot of the Longgu Mountain in 1953. The museum is composed of four exhibition halls, for displaying the model of the Peking Ape Men Skull, the evidence of using fire by these prehistoric people, stone tools and the models of the caves where they lived hundreds of thousands of years ago respectively. As added to the exhibits are the primitive arts forms like drawing and sculptures by prehistoric people of different ages. The museum intends to offer a systematic and complete introduction to the evolvement of human being. Up to now, the new discoveries are still made in this site, the protection and excavation work at the site will go on for a long time.

 

 

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    Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum
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    • Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum
    • Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum
    • Zhoukoudian Peking Men Historical Site Museum

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