Tests find hu­man skull age ex­ceeds 10,000 years

China Daily - - CHINA -

A hu­man skull found near China’s bor­der with Mon­go­lia and Rus­sia is more than 10,000 years old, re­searchers an­nounced on Sat­ur­day.

A car­bon-14 dat­ing study on four skull sam­ples dis­cov­ered in the Jalainur dis­trict of Manzhouli in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­tonomous re­gion con­firmed that the old­est dated to about 10,113 years ago. The other three were found to be 7,400 years, 1,600 years and 1,000 years old, Wu Xiao­hong of Pek­ing Univer­sity’s school of ar­chae­ol­ogy and muse­ol­ogy, told a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing.

“These find­ings prove that hu­mans had lived in the Jalainur area for 10,000 years,” said Wu, a team mem­ber in­volved in the study. The study, which be­gan in March, was con­ducted by re­searchers from Pek­ing Univer­sity and the ar­chae­ol­ogy school at Jilin Univer­sity.

Jalainur, a county-level dis­trict un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of Manzhouli, is lo­cated near Rus­sia and Mon­go­lia. It is be­lieved to be the ori­gin of the prairie cul­ture of north­ern China. His­tor­i­cal records show that ma­jor north­ern clans, in­clud­ing Xiongnu, Xian­bei and Khi­tan, once lived there.

The first Jalainur skull was found in 1933 by coal min­ers dig­ging in an open pit. By 1996, 22 such skulls had been dis­cov­ered.

Be­cause most of these hu­man skulls were not ex­ca­vated by pro­fes­sional ar­chae­ol­o­gists from the orig­i­nal for­ma­tions in which they were found, it was hard to de­ter­mine ex­actly how old they were, said Zhu Hong, a team mem­ber from Jilin Univer­sity.

The car­bon-14 study has set­tled the dat­ing prob­lem, and the re­sults and the pot­tery ruins un­earthed there prove that Jalainur peo­ple lived in the Ne­olithic Age at least 10,000 years ago, Zhu said.

Wang Wei, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese So­ci­ety of Ar­chae­ol­ogy, said the Jalainur skulls were found at the high­est lat­i­tude in China, adding that stone tool mak­ing skills had be­come rel­a­tively ma­ture by the time these in­di­vid­u­als lived.

“They had learned to turn stones into slim blades and bind them onto bone tools as knife edges for cut­ting an­i­mals,” said Wang, adding such skills were the most ad­vanced in the world at that time.

Zhu of Jilin Univer­sity said a phys­i­cal an­thro­pol­ogy study was also un­der­taken, an­a­lyz­ing the DNA data of the Jalainur skulls. Re­sults will be an­nounced later, he said.

He also said more likely to be un­cov­ered. skulls were

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