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Fire in Beijing
Lit 500,000 Years Ago

11 August 2011

A kitchen in where early Beijing residents sat around enjoying their barbecue dinner has been positively identified on Monday, 8 August 2011, at Zhoukoudian (the Peking Man Site Museum), one of the world's most renowned Homo Erectus sites. This open kitchen was situated in a studio unit built in a cave with a total floor space of only 20m2, and the stove was in a pit one meter below the ground surface in the form of a fire pond, where highly pure sodium carbonate crystals have been detected by Chinese archaeologists.

Peking Women set fire for a barbecue party 500,000 years ago

The inspection of the abandoned Beijing residence also located some 400 furniture, tools and weapons, all were skilly made of stone. Also found are large amount of skeletons of various prehistoric animals, evidently the leftovers from the barbecue.

Previously there were doubts over whether Zhoukoudian was indeed a settlement for Homo Erectus, and Peking Men's ability to set fire was also a subject of debate. The new discovery shall help to dispel such skepticism.

An archaeologist works on the site

The fossils of Peking Man was first discovered by Peking (Beijing) villages 100 years ago. In 1929, a complete skull, which is considered as one of the missing links in the so-called human evolutionary chain, was located by archaeologists. But the skullcap was looted to Japan 8 years later in 1937 when Japanese launched a full scale invasion of China and is never seen since.

Zhoukoudian Peking Man Museum, 48 km south-west of Beijing, was built in 1953, shortly after the establishment of PRC, and expanded to the current size in 1972, during the Cultural Revolution. In 1987, Zhoukoudian was named a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

The artifacts unearthed at Zhoukoudian recently

(Photo credit to 晓兵 - 北京日报)

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