The in situ discovery of the first Peking Man skull in December 1929 was a dramatic historical event in geology and paleoanthropology. Two iconic photographs appear widely in books on Peking Man (formerly Sinanthropus pekinensis), and they show a group of Chinese and Western geologists inside a caravansary at Zhoukoudian (Choukoutien) near Beijing. Long-standing issues of inconsistencies, uncertainties and lack of context regarding these photographs are addressed by using clues from published works as well as from photographs in the collection of China’s first vertebrate paleontologist Dr. Yang Zhongjian (1897–1979; C. C. Young). The paper determines the year of the photographs, their connection to other photographs, the identity of a tall man in one of the photographs, and the exact date and occasion of the event. Chinese-Western interaction of the Zhoukoudian team is discussed, and unpublished letters between Yang and Western scientists including Davidson Black (1884–1934) are presented to give a personal touch to the historical context surrounding the Peking Man discovery.

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