Discoveries help solve age-old questions

Updated: 2012-05-04 08:42

By Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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Recently unearthed archaeological treasures give scientists a fascinating insight into mankind's origins, reports Zhang Yuchen in Beijing.

A large number of archaeological sites were unearthed in China last year.

Experts designated 48 as being particularly valuable and they are now being assessed for inclusion into the top 10 discoveries of 2011, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and China Relics Press.

The six sites that provoked the most interest were those dating from the Old Stone Age, the Paleolithic period from two and half million years ago to 10,000 BC.

These were located in the provinces of Shaanxi, Henan, Fujian and Hunan, and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Flint axes and masonry tools unearthed at Zhanghuokou in Shaanxi province, similar to those discovered at almost 300 similar sites over the past two decades, suggest a strong connection between the manufacturing methods of the East Asian Old Stone Age and the West's Acheulian culture from roughly the same period.

The connection is one of the main focuses of international academic research into ancient cultural ties between East and West.

Animal bone fragments, stone tools and cultural relics, along with the remains of campfires, were unearthed in the Grandma Temple in Zhengzhou, Henan province, all dating from the Old Stone Age.

Archaeologists believe the area may have been a prime area of ancient culture in Central China. The discoveries have reinforced the notion of continuous co-evolution between the population in China and the rest of East Asia.

The relics discovered in the Qihe Caves in Fujian province are considered a treasure trove in southeastern China.

Along with human remains, researchers found artifacts belonging to prehistoric inhabitants across a series of eras, including tools fashioned from stone and bone, pottery and other items indicating the transition from the Old to the New Stone Age.

Cultural ties were identified from the study of lifestyles on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

(China Daily 05/04/2012 page1)