location in China
Xiaochangliang (simplified Chinese: 小长梁; traditional Chinese: 小長梁; pinyin: xiǎochángliáng) is the site of some of the earliest paleolithic remains in East Asia, located in the Nihewan Basin in Yangyuan County, Hebei, China, most famous for the stone tools discovered there.
The tool forms discovered include side and end scrapers, notches, burins, and disc cores. Although it is generally more difficult to date Asian sites than African sites because Asian sites typically lack volcanic materials that can be dated isotropically, the age of the tools has been magnetostratigraphically dated as 1.36 million years. This method hinges upon dated reversals in the Earth's magnetic field.
The site was first discovered by the US geologist George Barbour in 1923. Barbour invited French archaeologists Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Émile Licent. In 1935 Teilhard found a stone (flint) tool and determined the age of the site to be over a million years – it was the oldest artefact then known. Many scientists, including Teilhard, debated whether this tool might not be naturally formed.
The discovery by Pei Wenzhong of Peking Man hundreds of kilometers to the south (followed by wars and revolution) distracted the attention of the world's scientific community. However, from 1972 to 1978 more than 2000 pieces of stone tools were discovered, together with some bone tools, which confirmed Xiaochangliang (or Nihewan) as a paleolithic site.
In 1982, Wei Qi, then 44, found a huge hominid settlement at Donggutuo Village. He took samples to Pei, whose Peking Man was not half as old. "He said nothing," said Wei. "But I guess he had accepted it." Pei died of a heart attack a few days later.
- Hong Ao, Mark J. Dekkers, Qi Wei, Xiaoke Qiang, Guoqiao Xiao (15 August 2013). "New evidence for early presence of hominids in North China". Scientific Reports 3 (2403). doi:10.1038/srep02403.
- "Earliest Humans in China". Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
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