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Peking Man excavations to resume

EXCAVATIONS in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing where the fossil bones of Peking Man were discovered, will resume shortly. Research at the site came to a halt with the Japanese invasion in 1937.

Experts will begin excavating the western side of the cave during the 80th anniversary of the discovery of the first Peking Man's skull, Beijing Evening News reported today.

The project has been approved by the State Administration of Culture Heritage, a Chinese Academy of Sciences institution on paleontology and paleoanthropology, and the Administrative Office of the Peking Man Relics.

Because of the danger of rockfalls and collapses the experts will reinforce the cave as they excavate a 20-meter area and take samples.

The experts will also carry out a clean-up of the area and install new signage.

The cave, at the north-eastern side of Dragon Bone Hill, is the most important of all the sites at Zhoukoudian and more than 200 Peking Man fossils have been discovered there since 1921. The fragments belonged to 40 primitive human beings.

Later paleoanthropologists found 100,000 pieces including stone tools, 98 mammal fossils and the remains of 62 birds.

One third of the cave's treasures remain untouched.

China established a five-year paleoanthropological research team last year to make an information-data bank, form an information sharing platform and set up a collection center for fossils, anatomy and models.

Peking Man is an example of homo erectus. Fossils were discovered in 1923-27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian and have been estimated to be 500,000 years old.

Some Peking Man fossils vanished en route to the port city of Qinghuangdao during the World War II. One theory claimed that the bones sank with the Japanese ship Awa Maru in 1945.

Excavations at some Zhoukoudian sites resumed after the war with new discoveries including parts of another skull in 1966.

The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.


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