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Peking Man

Peking Man (sometimes now called Beijing Man), also called Sinanthropus pekinensis (currently H. erectus pekinensis), is an example of Homo erectus. The remains were first discovered in 1923-27 during excavations at Zhoukoudian (Choukoutien) near Beijing, China.

Excavations had begun at Zhoukoudian in 1921, investigating a number of caves in the limestone there. The remains of around fifteen prehistoric individuals were uncovered, with the first fragments being exposed in 1923. The finds have been dated from roughly 250,000-400,000 years ago.

The pre-war work was directed by Otto Zdansky, then Davidson Black and later by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Franz Weidenreich. The first specimens of H. erectus had been found in Java in 1891 by Eugene Dubois and the Java Man was initially named Pithecanthropus erectus

All the pre-war finds at Zhoukoudian were lost at sea during transit to the US, forcing subsequent researchers to rely on casts and existing writings from the original discoverers.

Contiguous finds of animal remains and evidence of fire and tool use and manufacture were used to support H. erectus being the first faber or tool-worker. This interpretation was challenged in the 1980s by Louis Binford and others.

The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian was listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1987.