On the possible use of fire by Homo erectus at Zhoukoudian, China

Maohua Zhong, Congling Shi, Xing Gao, Xinzhi Wu, Fuyou Chen, Shuangquan Zhang, Xingkai Zhang, John W. Olsen

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15 Scopus citations


For decades, the so-called Peking Man (Homo erectus pekinensis) at Zhoukoudian has been considered to be a hominin that engaged in the controlled production and management of fire. However, relatively recent analyses have cast doubt on this assertion. The most compelling reason for this doubt was the absence of siliceous aggregates in the Zhoukoudian deposits. This study presents evidence establishing the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus pekinensis through analyses of four soil samples sourced from Layers 4 and 6 at Zhoukoudian Locality 1. These results demonstrate that all four specimens contain siliceous aggregates as well as elemental carbon, and the potassium content of the insoluble residues of these specimens ranges between 1.21 % and 2.94 %. The analyses provide strong evidence of the in situ use of fire by Homo erectus pekinensis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalChinese Science Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Elemental carbon
  • Fire use
  • Homo erectus
  • Middle pleistocene
  • Siliceous aggregate
  • Zhoukoudian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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