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Prehistoric Settlement

Fossil remains show that ancestors of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, lived in Asia thousands of years ago. The fossils of Peking Man were found near Beijing, China, and Java Man was discovered at Sangiaran, Indonesia, on Java Island. These fossils, estimated to be about 500,000 years old, are of Homo erectus, an ancestor of Homo sapiens. Other fossil evidence from China points to Homo erectus arriving in Asia about 1 million years ago.

Homo erectus likely disappeared from Java about 150,000 years ago, and Homo sapiens did not resettle the island until the last ice age about 10,000 years ago, when the polar ice caps receded to their present extent. The record of human habitation in China is considerably longer. There, fossils of Homo sapiens thought to be 150,000 to 200,000 years old have been found. By 20,000 years ago, modern humans probably lived throughout China.

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