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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 18:46, November 03, 2005
Donghulin human skeleton buried with bent limps discovered in Beijing
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An archaeological team, jointly set up by School of Archaeology and Museum Studies of the Peking University and Beijing Research Institute of Cultural Relics, has discovered recently an early New Stone Age human skeleton buried with bent limps that lived about 9,000 years ago, with more earlier human remains with traces of fire use in the North China area, following the discovery of an intact corpse in Donghulin Village of Zhaitang Town in Beijing's Mentouguo District in October 2003, reports the overseas edition of People's Daily on November 3.

The deceased is a rare burial of bent limps.

The tomb faces the Qingshui River with backing on to a mountain slope, just to avoid attacks from northwest winds. In an about 1.2-meter-long tomb, there lies a skeleton about one meter long quietly. His or her head faces north with face towards east a little. The head of the skeleton is intact. However, the skeleton posture is very strange, looking just like a baby in a mother's womb, in terminology, this is known as a burial with limps bent.

With careful looking, one can see that there are crashed lines on the head of the decreased, but it remains intact basically. Both hands of the dead locked in front of the chest. The outline of the skeleton from the belly above is very clear and its lower limps are pressed on arm bones vertically. It looks like a cross and the bones of its finger and feet nails are found nowhere. The pelvis is basically buried in yellow earth.

There are many possibilities for the burial, for instance, the decreased was bent and buried or the lower limps were bent back just after its death, explained Lu Zun'e, a famous archaeologist with Peking University.

The skeleton is later than that discovered in 2003, but also belongs to the early New Stone Age about 9,000 years ago, said Professor Zhao Chaohong with the school of Peking University and also leader of the team. Before this, limp-bent burials in the early New Stone Age have not been found in the North China and its neighboring areas. He said concurrently it is only known as a custom and the implication is unknown.

Ornaments, such as spiral cases, pearl shells and jade wares, are also discovered.

Apart from the strange burial posture, two features of the buried corpse, dubbed as "Donghulin man", attract people's attention.

Firstly, there scattered about dozens of spiral cases measuring one centimeter long near the hands and knees of the dead, which can be connected. Very beautiful, the conches are white, glittering with silver rays, which may be linked as a necklace. In addition, many pearl shells of different sizes measuring between 2 to 3 centimeters with holes are found in the burial. It is evident that they are used for wearing. There are also carefully polished jade wares with two kinds: white and greenish-black colors. They might be used as ornaments, showing the aesthetic consciousness of the ancient people 10,000 years ago.

In addition, the white and orderly teeth are attractive too. Although 9,000 years old, main part of his or her lower teeth remains complete. A close look shows the teeth are not only very orderly, but also white. It seems that there are no difference between the teeth and that of the modern man.

No way to decide whether the body is a man's or woman's one.

The rudimental estimation is that the skeleton is a woman's. But, Professor Zhao Chaohong was not certain. He said there are three conditions for deciding the sex, namely, the head bone, teeth and pelvis. Only a part of the features can be seen since the limp-bent burial, and some of the body is covered with yellow soil layer, so it is impossible to decide it by naked eyes.

As for the age of the dead, experts have different sayings. Some say the decreased was about 30 while others say it was about 17 or 18. Zhao Chaohong said it is certain that the dead one was a grown-up before death, standing about 1.6 meters high. At the present, the newly discovered Donghulin man's skeleton has been moved to Peking University for multi-disciplinary studies, such as archaeology, environmental science and anthropology.

By People's Daily Online

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