WHS: Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, China

Still wandering around the Beijing area — thirty miles southwest of it, today — we have another World Heritage Site for you to consider visiting if you’re deeply fascinated by human evolutionary theories:

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

Peking Man Site

 

Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is a Pleistocene hominid site on the North China Plain. This site lies about 42 km south-west of Beijing and is at the juncture of the North China Plain and the Yanshan Mountains. Adequate water supplies and natural limestone caves in this area provided an optimal survival environment for early humans. Scientific work at the site is still under way. So far, ancient human fossils, cultural remains and animal fossils from 23 localities within the property dating from 5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago have been discovered by scientists. These include the remains of Homo erectus pekinensis, who lived in the Middle Pleistocene (700,000 to 200,000 years ago), archaic Homo sapiens of about 200,000–100,000 years ago and Homo sapiens sapiens dating back to 30,000 years ago. At the same time, fossils of hundreds of animal species, over 100,000 pieces of stone tools and evidence (including hearths, ash deposits and burnt bones) of Peking Man using fire have been discovered.

As the site of significant hominid remains discovered in the Asian continent demonstrating an evolutionary cultural sequence, Zhoukoudian is of major importance within the worldwide context. It is not only an exceptional reminder of the prehistoric human societies of the Asian continent, but also illustrates the process of human evolution, and is of significant value in the research and reconstruction of early human history…

As is somewhat of a theme with these archaeological Heritage Sites, there really isn’t all that much to see here. There’s a few dozen acres of park to walk around,

Peking Man Site

and a middling interesting museum …

… and you don’t even get to see the caves themselves.

Since July 15, 2016, the Apeman Cave, Upper Cave and Locality Four have been blocked and are expected to open in 2017.

As we write, that does not appear to have been finished yet, judging by the latest TripAdvisor reviews. And whenever it is finished, well the caves will still be empty, and the museum’s relics of Peking Man are somewhat difficult for the layman to distinguish from common rocks.

So put this one thoroughly on the “for academic interest only” corner of the World Heritage Sitemap; if you’ve gone through enough of the more conventional Beijing attractions that you want to get away from all the crowds, this does make a mildly interesting expedition into the hinterlands with a nice park to stroll around —

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p dir=”ltr”>— but there are a lot of those more conventional attractions, and World Heritage Sites many of them, so we expect you’ll likely have a fully rewarding Beijing visit without devoting most of a day to this one!

 

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

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