Choukoutien - Mogao Caves - Peking Man Site

Useful Information

Location: Dragon Bones Hill in Zhoukoudian Township, 50 kilometers south-west of Beijing.
Open: All year daily 8:30-16:20.
Fee: Adults CNY 20. [2004]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Ordovician limestone.
Guided tours: D=60 min.
Bibliography: Noel T. Boaz, Russell L. Ciochon (2004): Dragon Bone Hill: An Ice-Age Saga of Homo Erectus, Oxford University Press, 2004, 232pp., ISBN: 0195152913 Bookamazon.de
Jake Hooker (2006): The Search for the Peking Man, Archaeology magazine March/April 2006.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1918 first discoveries of fossils.
1921 human remains found.
1923 human remains found.
1927 human remains found.
02-DEC-1929 The first complete skull of Peking Man was discovered by Peiwenzhong of Beijing University.
DEC-1987 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Zhoukou River is rushing down a mountain valley, zigzags to the south and flows into the Glass River. The Dragon Bones Hill rises over 70 meters above the Zhoukou River. The cave is located in the cliff face above the river.

This site is world-famous for the remains of the so called Peking Man. This Chinese "apeman" lived in the big cave for about 300,000 years intermittently, from 670,000 BP to 410,000 BP.

After several smaller finds, in 1929 the first complete skull of Peking Man was discovered by Peiwenzhong of Beijing University. They first classified it as Sinanthropus pekinensis. Unfortunately the skull of the first Peking Man was lost during the Anti-Japanese War and its whereabouts are still unknown.

After this discovery large scale excavations were done on several occasions, some 26,000 cubic meters of earth were dug out. The result of those excavations were bone fossils of over forty individuals of different age and sex, one hundred thousand pieces of stone implements and a large number of animal fossils. The Peking Man was reclassified as Homo erectus pekinensis.

The most impressive detail of the excavations were several layers of ashes containing charcoal and charred bones. This proved that Peking Man had learned to use fire, a milestone in the development of man. The life of the Peking Man was reconstructed, as the life of a hunter. Looking for prey from his hill, hunting big animals and cooking the prey in his cave. If no big animals are at hand, members of his own kind are not rejected.

The Chinese archaeologists are convinced, that this early Homo erectus is the progenitor of the Chinese people. This theory is in contrary to the international Out-Of-Africa theory: genetic fingerprints show, that all humans on earth have the same ancestors. A small group of modern man, which developed in Africa, left the continent about 100,000 years ago and spread all over Europe, Asia and America. The theory of Peking Man being a hunter was challenged in 1985 by Lewis Binford, an American archaeologist. He claimed that the Peking Man was a scavenger. The team of Steve Weirner of the Weizmann Institute of Science concluded in 1998 that they had not found evidence that the Peking Man had used fire.