Scientists discovered remnants of an Old Stone Age culture, less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Beijing, where ancient hominins used a reddish pigment called ochre and crafted tiny, blade-like tools from stone. The archaeological site, called Xiamabei, offers a rare glimpse into the life of Homo sapiens and now-extinct human relatives who inhabited the region some 40,000 years ago. 

The newly excavated site lies within the Nihewan Basin, a depression in a mountainous region of northern China. The excavation team found evidence of the culture about 8 feet (2.5 meters) underground, when they spotted a layer of dark, silty sediment that dated to between 41,000 and 39,000 years ago, based on radiocarbon dating and other analyses. This Stone Age sediment contained a treasure trove of artifacts and animal remains, including more than 430 mammal bones; a hearth; physical evidence of ochre use and processing; a tool made of bone; and more than 380 miniaturized lithics, or small tools and artifacts made of chipped or ground stone.


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