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Hetao People and Their Salawusu Culture
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In Inner Mongolian, the Salawusu River follows a U-shape valley winding through Maowusu Desert in the southern tip of the Ordos Grassland.


Salawusu means "yellow water" in Mongolian, from which we can imagine the yellow waters of Salawusu River all year round. Wavering and elegant red willows are seen on both banks of the river, meaning this river is also called the Red Willow River. The river valley was the cradle of an old, splendid Ordos culture.


Sang Zhihua, a French Catholic priest and geobiologist, discovered a fossilized front tooth of a Hetao person for the first time in the valley. Later, Chinese archeologists searched this area many times and unearthed many cultural relics. The Hetao people lived 35,000 years ago and created the Salawusu Culture. Geological findings, fossilized animals, and stoneware show that this culture was part of the late Paleolithic Period.


Salawusu sites are mainly found in Dagouwan village and Dishaoguwan village, Wushen Banner, Ordos City of Inner Mongolia.


Ashes were discovered at Dagouwan village. They were oval-shaped, and one to two meters wide and long. The middle part is basin-shaped and over 30 fragments of burned animal bones were found near the basin. This shows that the site used to be a place where Stone Age people roasted animals for food. In other parts of the village, 100 to 200 pieces of stoneware were found. They were rather small in size, including pointed, scraping and carving tools. Most typical were scraping tools, small carving tools and cuneiform stones. Though these pieces are distinguished from fine Neoliths of the early Neolithic Period, fine column-shaped stones were also found here, which testifies to the existence of fine stoneware. The stoneware of the Salawusu Culture was very similar to the earlier stoneware from the Peking Man culture, Xujiayao Man culture in Yanggao, Shanxi Province and later stoneware from the ShiyuCulture, Suxian County, Shanxi Province, and the Xiaonanhai Culture, Anyang, Henan Province. This shows that all of these cultures belong to a system ranging from Zhoukoudian (the Peking man site) to Shiyu, and that Salawusu culture is closely related to Central China.


Twenty-three fossils deriving from the Hetao people were discovered, including 19 fossils, such as mandible bones, thighbones, shank bones, splintered bones and blade bones. Six of them were unearthed from the Proterozoic formations of the late Pleistocene period. A child's front tooth was discovered in 1922. Studies of Hetao man fossils show that they are 35,000 to 50,000 years old. Though their characteristics were close to those of modern people, they retained some primitive characteristics, which showed that they were Homo sapiens. The characteristics of Hetao man's front teeth and skulls resembled the oriental race.


Many fragments of mammal fossils were also found on the riversides, including the skulls and teeth of rhinoceroses, the ribs of primitive cows and horses, the bones and tusks of elephants and pieces of animals' legs. Fossil records show that the faunal groups at Salawusu included giant Namagulingchi elephants with slightly curved front teeth, which were similar to modern elephants; fossil tusks discovered in Ordos being 2.4-3 meters long; long-haired Pimao rhinoceroses whose fossils are widely found in the post-Pleistocene formations in Ordos; a complete skeleton of a Pimao rhinoceros was unearthed at the Salawusu River in the 1920s;a giant Hetao Giant-Antler deer with strong bodies having a flat fan-shaped antlers branching out, the antlers being almost vertical atthe top of their skulls, a unique kind of deer; Wangshi water buffalo named after Mongolian farmer Wang Shun who discovered the fossilized buffalo; they had unique horns with triangular transverse sections; Nuoshi camels that were stronger and taller than modern camels, they were peculiar to the faunal groups at Salawusu; hyenas and tigers accounted for the largest share of fossilized animals. The rear end of a fossilized tiger from the Quaternary Period was discovered at the Yangsiwan section of Salawusu's plant and faunal fossils. Over 45 kinds of fossils were found in the area, which is truly a home to fossils.

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