The discovery of Peking Man - said to be 500,000 years old - was one of the most decisive steps in the scientific quest to trace man's prehistoric development from the apes.

 

The current project, jointly conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Electricite de France, aims to drill nine holes of up to 30 metres in depth, the Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

 

The scientists hope the effort will result in evidence of early human activity in the area, as suggested by preliminary investigations.


Since Peking Man was first unearthed in 1929, archaeologists have found fossils belonging to 40 different individuals and more than 100,000 stone implements and other objects.

 

The Zhoukoudian area, where the Peking Man's cave is located, was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as a World Heritage site in 1987.