Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

Beijing Sights

Zhoukoudian Peking Man Site (Zhōukǒudiàn Běijīngrén yízhǐ)

  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

Updated 09/03/2014

Fodor's Review

This area of lime mines and craggy foothills, 48 km (30 miles) southwest of Beijing, ranks among the world's great paleontological sites (and served as the setting for Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter). In 1929, anthropologists were drawn to Zhoukoudian by apparently human "dragon bones" found in a Beijing apothecary and unearthed a complete cranium and other fossils dubbed Homo erectus pekinensis, or Peking Man. These early remains, believed to be nearly 700,000 years old, suggest (as do similar Homo erectus discoveries in Indonesia) that humankind's most recent ancestor originated in Asia, not Europe (though today some scientists posit that humans evolved in Africa first and migrated to Asia). A large-scale excavation in the early 1930s further unearthed six skullcaps and other hominid remains, stone tools, evidence of fire, plus a multitude of animal bones, many at the bottom of a large sinkhole believed to be a trap for woolly rhinos and other large game.

Sadly, the Peking Man fossils disappeared under mysterious circumstances during World War II, leaving researchers only plaster casts to contemplate. Subsequent digs at Zhoukoudian have yielded nothing equivalent to Peking Man, although archaeologists haven't yet abandoned the search. Trails lead to several hillside excavation sites. A small museum showcases a few (dusty) Peking Man statues, a collection of Paleolithic artifacts, two mummies, and some fine animal fossils, including a bear skeleton and a saber-toothed tiger skull. Because of the importance of Peking Man and the potential for other finds in the area, Zhoukoudian is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it may not be of much interest to those without a particular inclination for the subject. If you should find yourself here with little to do after your museum visit and the few dig locations, consider a little hike into the surrounding hills, which are named the Dragon Bone Mountains.

Read More

Sight Information


Zhoukoudian, 102405, China



Sight Details:

  • Y30
  • Daily 8:30–4

Updated 09/03/2014


What's Nearby

  • Sights

See all sights in Beijing

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Experience

  • Ease

  • Value

  • Don't Miss

Jun 6, 2014

Hi friend

Hi friend l am very humble after reading your profile and became interested please i have an important issues, to discuss with you, for these reason i ask you to email me on this ID Email, so that i can send you some pictures and every details, I want us to be friend, my email remain

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?




Don't Miss



No Thanks

Love To Travel?

Get FREE e-mail communications from Fodor's Travel, covering must-see travel destinations, expert trip planning advice, and travel inspiration to fuel your passion.

How we use your email

Thank You

Now sit back, relax, and check your inbox to start planning your next travel adventure.

Please tell us more about the type of travel you're interested in. Check all that apply.