Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

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[Photo via VCG]

Zhoukoudian Site Museum is located at the foot of Mount Longgu in Fangshan District, southwest of Beijing. Established in 1953, it serves as an ancient human site museum and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and a national 4A-level scenic area. The museum is renowned globally as an archaeological site for ancient humans and vertebrate animals, and is considered the birthplace of "Peking Man".

From 1921 to 1927, archaeologists made three separate discoveries of human teeth fossils outside the "Peking Man" cave site. In 1929, a fossilized skull of Peking Man, along with tools made by humans and traces of fire use, were found. This discovery caused a sensation worldwide as a significant archaeological find. In 1930, fossils and cultural relics of the Upper Cave Man, dating back approximately 20,000 years, were unearthed at the Zhoukoudian site. However, due to consecutive years of war and turmoil, all the fossil specimens of Peking Man and Upper Cave Man discovered since 1927 were lost. Their whereabouts remain unknown to this day, marking a mystery in the history of 20th-century archaeology. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, excavations and research at the Zhoukoudian site resumed, yielding a wealth of valuable data. To date, archaeologists have unearthed fossils representing more than 40 individuals, including skulls, jawbones, and teeth. They have also discovered abundant artifacts such as stone tools, bone tools, horn tools, and traces of fire use.

The museum provides a systematic introduction to the living environments and conditions of three ancient human species: the "Peking Man" from 600,000 years ago, the "New Cave Man" from 100,000 years ago, and the "Upper Cave Man" from 18,000 years ago. Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a three-dimensional model of Mount Longgu. Display cases throughout the museum exhibit a wide range of rock specimens from the Zhoukoudian area, spanning a timeline from 400 million years ago to 100 million years ago and offering insights into the geological changes that have occurred in the region over time.