The Excavated Evidence

The first methods used to extricate the fossils from Longgushan were dynamiting the sediments to blast the fossils loose, quarrying the debris by pickax, removing adhering sediment with hammers, chisels, and metal probes, and finally sieving the debris for small fossils that might have escaped detection. Pei and Zhang report that in the excavations between 1927 and 1928 "stone artifacts and the materials of utilized fire were not researched."2 That the blasting was less than controlled is suggested by the fact that the entire Temple to the Hill God on Longgushan was accidentally blown up during one of the early field seasons.3 There was no map-

Black Powder Use Early

The early years of research at Longgushan saw the use of setting black powder charges and blowing them up in order to break up the sediment. Mapping of fossil and artifac-tual specimens recovered from the site during these years can only be approximated. This photograph shows workers drilling a hole for setting explosive charges in 1927.

The early years of research at Longgushan saw the use of setting black powder charges and blowing them up in order to break up the sediment. Mapping of fossil and artifac-tual specimens recovered from the site during these years can only be approximated. This photograph shows workers drilling a hole for setting explosive charges in 1927.

ping of the fossils' location except to indicate their stratigraphic location on a geological cross section of the cave and to designate their horizontal location by a loosely defined "locus." The sediments were sieved and picked over in woven baskets to find all fragments of fossil bone, but stone artifacts may have been discarded along with the unidentifiable bone fragments. It was not until the 1934 field season at the cave site that excavators painted a three-dimensional grid in units of one meter on the horizontal sides of the cave and one meter on the vertical. The grid was painted onto the rock, and fossils and stone artifacts were recorded and mapped in a controlled manner. Despite this method of collecting the data, in all the years since 1937—the last year of the prewar excavations—a comprehensive map of the excavation had never been compiled. This was a major goal of our research at Longgushan.

Our colleagues at the Institute of Paleoanthropology and Paleontology in Beijing, Dr. Qinqi Xu and Mr. Jinyi Liu, undertook with us a dedicated search of the institute archives for the catalog of these excavations. All that seem to have survived are typewritten summaries originally transcribed by Lanpo Jia in 1941. He was allowed by the occupying Japanese army to

Excavation Grid

Excavation grid marked out with white paint near the end of the field season, November 1935. View is toward the north, where a plank walkway extends over the entrance into the Lower Cave. Squares measure one meter by one meter. The lettered squares are the "0" line where squares are labeled (A,0), (B,0), etc. Rows of squares to the south increase in number, e.g. (A,1), (A,2), etc., and rows of squares to the north decrease in number, e.g. (A,-1), (A,-2), etc.

Excavation grid marked out with white paint near the end of the field season, November 1935. View is toward the north, where a plank walkway extends over the entrance into the Lower Cave. Squares measure one meter by one meter. The lettered squares are the "0" line where squares are labeled (A,0), (B,0), etc. Rows of squares to the south increase in number, e.g. (A,1), (A,2), etc., and rows of squares to the north decrease in number, e.g. (A,-1), (A,-2), etc.

continue working in the Cenozoic Research Laboratory at the Peking Union Medical School after Weidenreich left. During the day he managed to transcribe his own notes and maps onto toilet tissue and then smuggle them out past the guards. All the other original records seem to have been lost following the closing of the Peking Union Medical College during the war.

Before he died in 2001, Lanpo Jia allowed Jinyi Liu to photocopy his notes and excavation maps of Zhoukoudian for the purpose of constructing an overall map of the Zhoukoudian excavations for the first time. We reviewed all the published reports of the excavations as well as many unpublished photographs in the American Museum of Natural History Library, where they have been kept since Weidenreich's death in 1948. We used these data to construct a composite map of the site. With it we have been able to locate all the levels of the excavation shown in the many surviving photographs of the site as well as plot the positions of all 15 loci at which hominid fossils were discovered.

Archaeologists use the spatial patterning of artifacts and larger features of a site to interpret past cultural behavior. In the case of Longgushan, both the early methods of excavation and the later loss of much of the data

Discovery of Locus L at Dragon Bone Hill, viewed from the southwest. Top: Excavation of Skulls X, XI, and XII in Locus L, Level 25, Layer 8/9 of Locality 1. Area enclosed by rope shows excavation of Skulls X and XI and area in left foreground is where Skull XII was found. (Photograph taken November 15, 1936.) Bottom: Excavation plan view of Locus L showing location of the three hominid skulls discovered in 1936 within Locus L, as well as Adult Mandible IX, discovered in 1959, at Level 27 of Layer 10.

Computer-generated image of a three-dimensional plan of Locality 1 from data preserved by Lanpo Jia, showing locations of major stratigraphic columns and the grid system used in the excavation. A colored version of this diagram complete with many loci and major hominid finds appears in the color insert. The vertical scale is doubled to allow visualization of stratigraphic detail.

from the excavations preclude detailed interpretations of many aspects of the site. For example, did Homo erectus leave their stone tools near the entrance of the cave, where we could presume that there was light from the outside, or did they penetrate more deeply into the cave, displacing the resident hyenas, perhaps with the use of fire? Our data are just not sufficient to answer this question.

We can make some reasonable deductions about general aspects of Homo erectus archaeology at Longgushan from what data have survived. The artifacts are found at all levels of the site, from the lower parts to the uppermost. The artifacts seem to cluster with the deposits of burned bones at the site, implying that fire and stone tools are associated. And, perhaps most importantly, numerous stone tool cut marks are to be seen on the fossil bones from Longgushan, allowing us to make the connection between the stone tools and the functions to which they were put by Homo erectus.

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