Fossil Man in China, 1933: Mapping Zhoukoudian

  Fossil Man in China  ,  1933: The publication that summarizes the geology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and excavations at Zhoukoudian through 1933.

Fossil Man in China, 1933: The publication that summarizes the geology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and excavations at Zhoukoudian through 1933.

Publication of the geologic maps is one of many  early 20th century means of data-sharing.  With the maps, and the detailed descriptions of the fossils and artifacts, readers can better parse the geologic context for a site as extensive as Zhoukoudian.

(Click through the gallery below for the five geologic maps.)

  Fossil Man in China  includes five large-format, detailed geological maps for Zhoukoudian and the surrounding areas.

Fossil Man in China includes five large-format, detailed geological maps for Zhoukoudian and the surrounding areas.

"Labor Created Man:" Interpretations of Zhoukoudian, 1972

This small, pocket-sized book is a simplified overview of the history of Chinese prehistory, published in 1972.  Fascinating illustrations and reconstructions.

勞動創造了人 "Labor Created Man" (1972)

 

  山頂洞人的生活。當時的人們已會使用骨針縫獸皮為衣 (画) "Depiction: The life of upper cave men.  They already knew how to use bones as needles for sewing hide for clothes."

 山頂洞人的生活。當時的人們已會使用骨針縫獸皮為衣 (画) "Depiction: The life of upper cave men.  They already knew how to use bones as needles for sewing hide for clothes."

 發現中國猿人化石的北京周口店龍骨山: "Zhoukoudian is where the fossil of the Chinese ape is discovered."

發現中國猿人化石的北京周口店龍骨山: "Zhoukoudian is where the fossil of the Chinese ape is discovered."

 中國猿人頭骨復原像(女): "A reconstructed model of a skull of a Chinese ape (female)" (We can assume this is "Nellie" as Davidson Black called her...)

中國猿人頭骨復原像(女): "A reconstructed model of a skull of a Chinese ape (female)" (We can assume this is "Nellie" as Davidson Black called her...)

 山頂洞人在捕魚: "Upper cave men fishing"

山頂洞人在捕魚: "Upper cave men fishing"

 Fossils of skulls of ape (猿人), ancient human (古人), modern human(新人): Top is Peking Man; middle "Maba Man"; bottom is "LiuJiang Man"

Fossils of skulls of ape (猿人), ancient human (古人), modern human(新人): Top is Peking Man; middle "Maba Man"; bottom is "LiuJiang Man"

Special thanks to Siu and Mekong for their assistance with translations!

The Day Lucy Was Discovered

Lucy_blackbg.jpg

The famous fossil hominin Lucy, AL 288-1, was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia on 30 November 1974.  Late 1974 marked a particularly turbulent time Ethiopia's history -- the monarchy was overthrown which, in turn, led to the establishment of the Derg, to say nothing of the famine in the Wallo region. 

The Ethiopian Herald -- the local paper for Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa -- reported the discovery of Lucy on 21 December 1974, immediately after the fossil's first press conference.  But the newspaper's headlines and content in the weeks surrounding the fossil's discovery serve as a reminder that scientific discoveries -- especially famous fossil discoveries -- are products of their cultural and political contexts.  Part of what makes Lucy, well, Lucy are all of these parts of her original contexts.

The sweeping politics and the everyday-minutiae help paint a poignant picture of the day she was discovered.

 Front page of Ethiopian Herald, 30 November 1974.

Front page of Ethiopian Herald, 30 November 1974.

 Second page, Ethiopian Herald. 30 November 1974

Second page, Ethiopian Herald. 30 November 1974

 Raising awareness for famine; ad in Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Raising awareness for famine; ad in Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

 Ad for movie theater; Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

Ad for movie theater; Ethiopian Herald 30 Nov 1974

 Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

 Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Job ad, posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

 Airline ad; posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974

Airline ad; posted in Ethiopian Herald; 30 Nov 1974



A Guide to Fossil Man 1918, British Museum: Piltdown & La Chapelle

In 1914, two years after the publication of the famous Piltdown fossil, the British Museum issued a Guide to the Fossil Remains of Man.  The long-form pamphlet was meant to educate museum goers and serve as a way to disseminate information to the public (as well as experts) about the Piltdown fossil.  The guide was so successful that it was reprinted in 1918 and for many was a go-to resource that consolidated research and publications about Piltdown into one place, as the guide had an extensive bibliography.

Although the paleo world had few fossils in 1914 (or even in 1918) with which to build a hominin family tree, the Piltdown specimen is carefully measured and evaluated against other famous fossils in the early twentieth century like the La Chapelle Neanderthal.

Using the social, scientific cachet of celebrity fossils like La Chapelle as a comparative specimen served to reinforce the legitimacy assigned to Piltdown at the publication of the Guide to the Fossil Remains of Man.