Lecture | Dating Ancient Chinese – A Geochronological Quest


Speaker: Zhou Liping

Host: Lu Yang
Theme: Dating Ancient Chinese – A Geochronological Quest
Date: December 19 (Wednesday), 2018
Time: 19:00 – 20:30
Location: Room B101, Second Gymnasium, Yenching Academy, Peking University

Language: English


Nothing is more important than chronology in archaeology. “Why?” You may or may not agree with such a strong statement. Imagine that a complete fossil skull was unearthed in China and anthropological metrics performed, and even sophisticated DNA analyses were done, we would think we know the fossil hominin -- ancient Chinese. However, the main scientific question around the search and study of the fossil skulls is concerned with human evolution, not only in China but also around the globe. To put the fossil in the scientific context, it is essential that we know how old is the man/woman, i.e. when did he/she die. You may now see why the debates over the ages of the ancient fossils are always hot and ongoing. This talk will tell the fascinating story of our attempts to determine the ages of Chinese ancestors from “Peking Man” (Zhoukoudian Homo erectus) to “Xuchang Man” (Xuchang archaic human). A range of physics- or chemistry-based novel methods that are used for the measurement of geological time and date directly or indirectly the ages of the fossils will be discussed. It is hoped that this talk will bring those who with varying scientific background through a journey to the discovery of the ages of ancient Chinese in the past thousands of years and stimulate your curiosity.


Photo-Zhou Liping_副本.jpg

Zhou Liping, entered Peking University in February, 1978, obtained BSc in Geography 1982; followed by MSc from Free University of Brussels in 1984, then Ph.D. from University of Cambridge (St. John's College) in 1992. He held research positions first in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia; then Department of Physics and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge and finally in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge before he returned to Peking University in 1999. As a Cheung-Kong Scholar, he is now Boya Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physical Geography and Natural Resources. He was the co-founder of Centre for Ocean Research of Peking University. His research ranges from geochronology for archaeology and recent geology to applications of radiogenic and stable isotope geochemical techniques to seawater and marine sediments and for past environmental reconstruction. He has published in Nature, Science, Nature Geoscience, Earth and Planetary Science Letters and a wide range of journals.

He is Vice President of Stratigraphy and Chronology Commission in International Union for Quaternary Research and President of Commission on Stratigraphy and Chronology, Chinese Association for Quaternary Research. He was executive committee member of Scientific Steering Committee in Past Global Change Programme (PAGES). He now serves in Scientific Steering Committee of the GEOTRACES. He also serves in the editorial board of the Holocene, Quaternary Research, Journal of Quaternary Science, Anthropocene, Climate of the Past, Archaeological Research in Asia.

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