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Prehistoric Scratchpad

River basin in China just west of Beijing that is home to many archaeological dates dating from almost 2 million years ago to a hundred thousand years ago.


Earlier History[]

  • Earliest known homo species to make stone tools in Africa was 2.6 million years ago
  • Stone tools of Jade found in soil originally thought to be 15 million years old. If proven to be older than 2.6 MYA, it could shake up the Out of Africa theory.
  • The Gauss-Matuyama Geomagnetic Reversal occurred 2.58 Ma
  • Homins (most likely Homo Erectus) lived at Majuangou from 1.66 to 1.32 million years ago. They had survived during the frequent changes in vegetation that occurred during this time period.
  • Hominins lived at Donggutuo 1.1 Million Years ago, close to the onset of the mid-Pleistocene Climate Transition which was during a time of increased environmental instability. Knappers here began to apply innovative flaking methods, using free hand hard hammer percussion to manufacture pre-determined core shapes, small flakes, and finely retouched tools.

1 Million Years Ago[]

It's probable that Homo Erectus lived in this Basin. Habitation of Donggutuo was only about 100,000 years earlier. The men whose fossils would be found in Beijing would be born 200,000 years later.

Between History[]

  • The Matuyama-Brunhes geomagnetic reversal occurred 780,000 years ago.
  • The earliest human fossils at Zhoukoudian cave near Beijing were dated to 770,000 years old.
  • The Xujiayao homin lived aroun 260-370ka, consistant with the time that the Denisovans began colonizing Easter Eurasia, and could possibly be a Denisovan. He had some Neanderthal derived features.

100,000 Years Ago[]

Humans with Neanderthal-like inner ear structures were living at the Xujiayao site. They exhibit signs of inbreeding.

Later History[]

Modern History[]

  • In 1923, Xiaochangliang site was discovered by a US geologist.
  • In 1929 through 1937, Peking Man bones were found east of his, eclipsing the discovery here.
  • In 1935, sone flint was found at Xiaochangliang found to be over a million years old and the oldest known artifact at the time.
  • The original Peking Man fossils were lost in 1941, though excellent casts remains.
  • The Donggutuo site was identified in 1981.
  • In 2012, a museum displaying artifacts found here was opened


Nihawan Basin Web Pages[]

Nihawan Basin In the News[]

Peking Man Older than Thought (Mar 2009)[]

Museum Opened (Jun 2012)[]

Extensive Study of Early Fossil Wolf (Nov 2012)[]

Inbreeding Signs in Fossils (Mar 2013)[]

(Xujiayao Site)

Early Humans Lived in China 1.7 MYA (Aug 2013)[]

(Shangshazui site Magnetically Dated)

Earliest Humans Found? (Nov 2013)[]

(Shibaozhuang Site)

Neanderthal-Like Inner Ear Found (Jul 2014)[]

(Xujiayao Site)

2 Million Year Old Stone Toys Found (Mar 2015)[]

Homo Erectus Survived Habitat Changes (2017)[]

Lithic Assemblages of Donggutuo (Sep 2017)[]

Updated Age for Xujiayao Hominin (May 2017)[]



  • Xiaochangliang Site - Early identified site here with stone artifacts over a million years old.
  • Xujiayao Site - Site of a potential Denisovan bones
  • Majuangou Site - Site with stone tools from 1.66 to 1.32 million years ago.
  • Heigugou Site - Site where 2 million year old stone toys were identified.
  • Donggutuo Site - One of richest sites, dates to 1.1 Ma, close to the onset of the mid-Pleistocene climate transition (MPT)
  • Shibaozhuang Site - Site originally thought to be 15 million years old found to contain early tools made of jade. - map

Virtual Tourism[]

Related Pages[]