观音洞

Guanyindong


Useful Information

Location: Jingshan Village, Shajing Township, Guanyindong Town. 30 km south of Qianxi.
(26.863325, 105.972786)
Open: no restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SubterraneaCave Church
Light: bring torch
Dimension: A=1,450 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Guanyindong, Qianxi County, Bijie, Guizhou.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1964 discovered in 1964 by archaeologist Pei Wenzhong in Qianxi County.
1960s-1970s multiple excavations.
1973 Guizhou Provincial Museum and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted multiple joint investigations on Guanyin Cave and unearthed more than 4,000 stone tools and dozens of animal bone fossils.
25-JUN-2001 announced as a National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit, approved by the State Council.

Description

观音洞 (Guanyindong) is a quite popular name for caves and temples in China. Guanyin Cave is located in Jingshan Village, Guanyindong Town. It has actually two parts, an excavation site which is quite unspectacular, the palaeolithic remains are gone, only the hole remains. The other part of the huge shelter is used as a buddhist temple, has statues and burning incense sticks inside, and is accessible like any church. One of the statues is the buddhist "Saint" Guanyin Bodhisattva, hence the name of the cave. The main cave, which faces west, is about 90 m long from east to west and 1 m to 9 m wide.

This site is an archaeological site of world importance for its palaeolithic discoveries. It is open to the public as the archaeological excavations are currently completed and the cave has become a mayor tourist draw. The area is off the beaten track and is quite happy about additional tourists.

The discoveries were quite exceptional as they are very old, dated to between 500,000 and 600,000 years, the early Paleolithic. The cave sediments are 9 m thick and contain two layers with remains, called upper and lower layer. More than 3,000 stone products have been found, mostly flint stone artifacts and carving tools. The raw materials as well as production and combination of stone tools have distinctive local characteristics and was named the Guanyin Cave Culture. This cave is actually the type locale for the Guanyindong culture, in Chinese 黔西观音洞文化 (Guanyin Cave Culture of Qianxi). The Qianxi-prefix is important, as there are numerous Guanyin caves. Sometimes it is also called Bijie culture, after the district where the cave is located.

More than 20 mammalian fossils were discovered, which are closely related to the hunting activities of early humans. All of them belong to the 'southern giant panda-sabre-toothed elephant fauna'. Examples are the Koch bear, the giant panda, the last hyena, the inlaid elephant, the Guizhou sabre-toothed elephant, the Oriental sabre-toothed elephant, the giant rhinoceros, and the Chinese rhinoceros. Eight of these animals went extinct during the middle to late Pleistocene. However, bones of the ancient humans were not discovered, obviously they did not use the cave for burials.

The General History of China divides the Early Palaeolithic culture of China into three types or three ancient cultural zones. The first is represented by the Xihoudu and He cultures of Shanxi. The second is represented by Zhoukoudian in Beijing. The third is represented by Guanyin Cave in Qianxi, Guizhou. In other words the origin of culture in China was "pluralistic". Early humans created different cultures in different regions, which merged only gradually.