A new Paleolithic site has been discovered in Lantian County: the earliest human traces appeared on the Loess Plateau 2.12 million years ago

2018-07-13 09:21:14 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

A new Paleolithic site has been discovered in Shangchen Village by Zhu Zhaoyu and his team from the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The new site is located in Shangchen Village, Yushan Town, Lantian County, Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, and has been designated as the Shangchen Site. It has a fantastic sequence of cultural artifact layers that can be traced back to about 1.26 million to 2.12 million years ago. This discovery indicates that ancient humans may have emerged outside of Africa earlier than previously thought. The Nature magazine has published this achievement online this week.

It was previously believed that the earliest recognized evidence of ancient humans outside of Africa came from Dmanisi, Georgia. The fossils and the tools of Homo erectus were discovered in this region. Moreover, the early ancient human fossils found in China and Java, Indonesia, can be traced back to 1.5 million to 1.7 million years ago.

Zhu’s team delivered a detailed description about the Early Pleistocene loess—the 82 struck stones and 14 unaffected stones from S15 to L28 strata of the loess sequences discovered at the Shangchen Site. These struck stones include cores, flakes, scrapers, apexes, drills and hand picks. They are all evidence of the early tools used by ancient humans. The staff also introduced two stone hammers with strike marks. Furthermore, in the geological excavation trenches in this area, mandibular blocks of deer, as well as bone fossil fragments of bovid (ruminant cloven-hoofed mammals) and other animals were also found together with stone cores and flakes.

According to Mr. Zhu, the age of this Paleolithic cultural sequence was mainly determined by the identification of the paleosol stratigraphic sections in Shangchen Area, and by the high-density paleomagnetic dating technique. In the middle and lower parts of the stratigraphic sections (S15 to L28), 17 stratums contained artifacts. The stone products were mainly found in 11 paleosol layers that were formed in humid and warm climates. In addition, he analyzed that the time span of these 17 cultural layers was about 850,000 years, indicating that ancient humans may have lived (incontinuous) on the Loess Plateau of China between 2.12 million and 1.26 million years ago.

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