New findings Challenge Theory of Human Origin in Africa

Relics of China's earliest known human activity dating back two million years challenge the widely accepted theory that human beings originated in Africa, Chinese archeologists said.

A research conducted from last September till now by a Chinese archeological team in the Nihewan Basin of north China's Hebei Province has added weight to a long-time hypothesis that human beings originated in China.

The team has found 800 stone tool pieces and animal remains after excavating the third layer of the Paleolithic Maquangou site in Nihewan.

Xie Fei, team leader and deputy director of Hebei Administration of Cultural Heritage, said the site is so far not only the most primitive in Nihewan, but also one of the relics China and east Asia that possesses clearly-identified geological layers.

By studying the geomagnetic changes recorded in sediment of different strata, and conducting analysis on the layers' geology, experts concluded the site has a history of over two million years.

"It is quite close to the age of Africa's oldest human history, posing a challenge to the traditional theory that human beings originated in Africa," said Xie.

In 1965, archeologists unearthed human fossils in the southwest province of Yunnan dating back 1.7 million years, making them the earliest known human beings in China.

However, experts are arguing that all human beings have the same ancestor from Africa. The theory is backed up by genetic analysis.

According to the archeologists, the excavated stone tools in Nihewan, including stone flakes, stone hammers and stone scrapers, are mainly made of flintstone, a kind of local material. The archeologists have excluded the possibility that the stone items resulted from natural forces.

The Maquangou site is divided into three layers. The third layer, discovered last spring, was first excavated this time.

The Nihewan Basin, of the fluvial or river facies, is a significant place for archeological research with very thick silt deposits from rivers and lakes and plants and animal fossils, such as remains of elephants, deer and horses.

(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2001)

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