Reinforcement begins at Peking Man site in China

June 25th, 2009 - 3:24 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, June 25 (ANI): Reports indicate that reinforcement has begun at the Peking Man site in China to prevent one of its walls from collapsing.

‘Peking Man’ is referred to a group of fossil specimens, hundreds of thousands of years old, discovered in 1923-27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian near Beijing (at that time known as Peking), in China.

Archaeologists are now working for protective excavation at the Peking Man site, focusing on the west section of the cave where the first Peking Man skull was found in Zhoukoudian.

The west section is the only part that has remained untouched since the cave’s discovery.

“Repair work cannot be done without a comprehensive excavation,” said Gao Xing, deputy director and research fellow of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaeoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

However, the wall is slanting towards the ground and risks collapse.

Closer observation over the past month has revealed loose rocks and a crack along its top, which makes it more vulnerable to erosion caused by rain.

Work over the next month will concentrate on areas around the crack and then expand to the whole section between August and October.

“Our ultimate aim is to save the section from further damage so that it might be available for research by future generations,” said Gao.

The site used to be a 20-m wide, 140-m deep cave but the ceiling collapsed long ago.

Chinese archaeologist Pei Wenzhong found the first complete skull at the site in December 1929, together with a large number of stone tools and evidence of fire use by humans.

In 1936, three more skulls were unearthed, and fossils in the caves were found to belong to 40 individuals, with more than 100,000 stone tools.

Controversy remains on various issues, such as if Peking Man was able to control fire, if hunting was part of their lifestyle and the age of Peking Man.

Peking Man, the tool-making “erect man,” was previously believed to have lived in Zhoukoudian Caves about 400,000 to 500,000 years ago.

But, in March, Chinese scientists revealed that using a new radioactive dating method, Peking Man may have lived 200,000 years earlier.

“More intensive research will be done to explain the development of relic deposits in the cave, Gao said.

“The deposits contained traces of humans, ancient animals and changes of natural environment. The excavation will help us understand in a more detailed way when humans settled down in the cave, when they began to use fire, and what and when major climate changes occurred,” he added. (ANI)

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