ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The color red, which
represents luck, happiness and passion in China, could have been used in
clothing 15,000 years ago.
Li Zhanyang, a researcher with Henan Provincial
Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said in an interview with Xinhua
Li has been leading an eight-member archaeological
team doing excavation and related research on lake-based ruins in Xuchang,
central China's Henan Province, in recent years.
The Xuchang ruins made headlines in foreign media in
January when State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced that Chinese
archaeologists had found a human skull dating back at least 80,000 years in the
ruins last December.
According to Li, this month, their excavation team
found from the soil strata dating back 15,000 years, or the late Paleolithic
Era, at the Xuchang ruins more than 20 pieces of hematite, one of iron oxides
commonly used as a dyestuff, alongside three dozen thin instruments made of
animal tooth enamel, plus seven needles made of the upper cheek tooth enamel of
a rhinoceros sub-species now extinct.
It is the first time in China that iron oxide of such
high concentration has been excavated from the ruins of the late Paleolithic
Era, claimed Li.
"Through excavation, we are confident that these
hematite were deliberately brought to the Xuchang ruins from afar by ancient
people, as Xuchang does not produce such minerals," said Li.
The ruins used to be the location of a lake where
activities such as clothes making, food preparing, water drinking were
clustered, said Li.
"I believe the people who lived there might have used
hematite to dye clothes, which was quite different from Upper Cave Man at
Zhoukoudian of Beijing who used hematite as a sacrifice to the dead, or from
Europe, where ancient people there used hematite to draw cave murals."
Li said lab work proved the thin instruments made of
animal tooth enamel might have be used as articles similar to buttons in present
"There has been evidence suggesting people dating
back 15,000 years could have made advanced fur apparel. If that is true, the
most popular color might have been red," said the Chinese archaeologist.
The Paleolithic site at Xuchang was discovered in
1965, when Chinese scientists found animal fossils and stone artifacts from soil
dug for a well. The most recent large scale excavation started in June 2005.
The archaeologists declared in January this year that
they found the fossil consisted of 16 pieces of the skull with protruding
eyebrows and a small forehead from the excavation last December.
That find was heralded as the greatest discovery
since Peking Man and Upper Cave Man skulls were found in Beijing early last
The Peking Man skull fossil dates back 200,000 to
700,000 years, while the Upper Cave Man skull fossils date back about 18,000
Besides the skull, more than 30,000 animal fossils,
and stone and bone artifacts were found in the Xuchang ruins over the past two
years. The pieces were fossilized because they were buried near the mouth of a
spring, whose water had a high calcium content, according to Li.