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Traces of time: The rich prehistoric legacy of Inner Mongolia

The Paleolithic Period: The Dayao Culture & Xirawusu Culture

Updated: Dec 30, 2021 govt.chinadaily.com.cn Print
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The Paleolithic Period

Tangible cultural heritage from the Paleolithic period of Inner Mongolia has been discovered in such areas as the southern slopes of the Yinshan Mountains, the Ordos Plateau, the Hulunbuir Plateau, the Chifeng Hills and Horchin Grasslands. Among the nearly 30 archaeological sites within these areas that feature evidence of human activity during this period, the Dayao and Xirawusu cultures are the most representative.

The Dayao Culture

Located in Dayao village (literally meaning "grand kiln" in Chinese), Hohhot, the Dayao Culture Site contains stone tools produced in workshops that date back to the early to late Paleolithic period. Dating back to more than 500,000 years ago, its discovery reveals how people mined stones from native rock layers and made them into tools. These workshops from the early Paleolithic period are the only ones of their kind discovered in China thus far. 

The unearthed surface of the Dayao Site and its relics [Photo/nmg.gov.cn]
Stone hammer unearthed from the Dayao Site, from the collection of Inner Mongolia Normal University Museum [Photo/cfp.cn]

Xirawusu Culture

The Xirawusu Culture Site was found in the watershed of the Xiarawusu River (literally meaning ”Yellow Water“ in Mongolian) in Uxin Banner, Ordos. Dating back around 35,000 to 50,000 years ago, it was first discovered and excavated by French geobiologists Emile Licent (1876-1952) and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) from 1922 to 1923. It features fine stone tools and fossils of animal bones and late homo sapiens that had similar physical characteristics of modern Mongoloids and were later named the “Hetao People” by archaeologist Pei Wenzhong (1904-82) in the 1940s.

Mainly made of quartzite and flint, the stone tools unearthed from this site come in a wide range of types, including scrapers, drilling tools, pointed items and carvers.

The excavation site of the Xirawusu Culture Site [Photo/cfp.cn]
A distant view of the Xirawusu Culture Site [Photo/cfp.cn]

 

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