Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (02): 161-172.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0025

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Discussions on stratigraphy and age of the Xujiayao hominin

WANG Fagang1, LI Feng2,3()   

  1. 1. Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Shijiazhuang 050031
    2. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    3. CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044
  • Received:2018-02-11 Revised:2018-12-18 Online:2020-05-15 Published:2020-07-17
  • Contact: LI Feng


The Xujiayao hominin fossils discovered at the Houjiayao site in Yangyuan County Hebei Province in the western Nihewan Basin have been well-known and intensively studied in North China. However, the stratigraphy and age of the human fossils have been hotly debated for many years. The site was firstly excavated in the late 1970s, and twenty pieces of hominin fossils have been discovered along with thousands of stone artifacts and mammalian fossils. From 2007 to 2012, a new excavation by Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics was conducted from which new stratigraphic information has been obtained besides the newly discovered archaeological remains. An uncomformity of the depositional sequence was identified in the 2007~2012 excavation about four to five metres under the lower archaeological horizons which sheds new light on understanding the dates and stratigraphic association of hominin fossils and archaeological material at the site. The hominin fossils, stone artifacts and mammalian fossils once considered to be buried in the Nihewan formation were actually yielded in the fluvial deposit above the uncomformity which might belong to the third terrace of the Liyigou River. Many independent dating projects have been conducted at the sites since its discovery applying U-series, Radiocarbon, Paleomagnetic, OSL, and ESR, and a range of 200 to 500 kaBP was suggested for the estimated age of the archaeological layers. In this paper, we evaluate various dating results together with the new stratigraphic information obtained during the new excavations. We suggest that dating results yielded from OSL and 26Al/ 10Be methods are the best representatives of the age of the site. We propose that the Xujiayao hominin from the upper archaeological horizon lived in the late Middle Pleistocene, around 200~160 kaBP; the age of lower archaeological horizon requires more work, and currently the OSL result suggests an age of 198±15 kaBP and the 26Al/ 10Be results suggest an average age of 240±50 kaBP.

Key words: Xujiayao hominin, Houjiayao site, Fluvial deposit, Nihewan formation, Chronology

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