The Prehistory and Early History of China

  • J. A. G. Roberts
Part of the Palgrave Essential Histories book series (EH)


The physical origin of the Chinese people is a subject not yet fully understood. In 1927 remains of early man were found at Zhoukoudian, 30 miles south-west of Beijing. Beijing man, who had hominid features, was a hunter-gatherer who used stone tools and made fire. Further remains of homo erectus, a predecessor of homo sapiens, who lived between 400,000 and 200,000 bc have since been found at a number of other sites in China. Early homo sapiens inhabited sites in China between 200,000 and 50,000 bc. The best-documented find of early human remains was made at the Middle Cave at Zhoukoudian. This find, which included three restorable skulls, has yielded an unconfirmed radiocarbon date of 16,922 bc. The physical characteristics which these remains exhibit are regarded as more typical of North American Indians than of Mongoloid peoples. It is therefore questionable whether this group was ancestral to the modern Chinese.


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© J. A. G. Roberts 1999

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  • J. A. G. Roberts

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