Chinese archaeologists have discovered a site from the Paleolithic era in southwest China's Yunnan province, unearthing fossils of more than 30 species of animals and many stone tools.
The site is located inside a cave near the Bale Village of Jinghong City, in Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna. The cave is about three kilometers from the border between China and Myanmar.
The most valuable discovery is a fossilized shell used as money, dating back 13,000 years, in the shape of female genitalia. "This shows that people regarded reproduction as a very important thing at that time," said Gao Feng, a research fellow with Yunnan Provincial Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Research Institute.
Fossils of Asian elephants, rhinoceroses and leopards, and fossilized plant seeds and mussels all reflect that people at that time had been engaged in activities such as fishing, hunting and picking fruits, Gao said.
Fragments of pots and polished stoneware unearthed at the site were made in the same way as that excavated from Beijing's Zhoukoudian, which is famous for the excavation of the cranium of the Peking Man, who lived there some 700,000 to 230,000 years ago.
Gao said these relics were evidence of the transition from the Paleolithic age to the Neolithic age between 21,000 and 13,000 years ago, and they are also important materials for studying the chronology of the early Stone Age and the ancient environment in the area.
The cave where these relics were excavated is 800 meters above sea level. For many years, nobody dared to enter the cave as it was regarded as a "land of death" due to a legend, in which the cave is depicted as the residence of a concubine of the Tiger Demon.
In 1987, Huang Wanchun from the geological team of the then Ministry of Nuclear Industry entered the cave and collected fossils. Excavation of the cave began in 1996.
(People's Daily November 7, 2002)