And that's exactly what archaeologists led by Zhaoyu Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences found in a 2.1 million-year-old layer of ancient wind-blown sediment in China's southern Loess Plateau: a collection of stone cores, flakes, scrapers, borers, and points, as well as a couple of damaged hammerstones.
The tools' style strongly resembles stone tools found at sites of about the same age in Africa, made by early human relatives like Homo erectus.
The find pushes back the earliest evidence for hominins outside Africa, which had been a 1.85 to 1.77 million-year-old group of Homo erectus bones and stone tools at a site in Dmanisi, Georgia, not far from the Armenian border.
Magnetic minerals in sediment align with Earth's poles, and when those sediments harden into rock layers, the alignment of those magnetic minerals gets locked into place, creating a fossil record of Earth's past magnetism.
It seems that fewer hominins lived on the Loess Plateau during colder, drier periods, although archaeologists don't have enough information to tell if they moved elsewhere and then returned in warmer times or if they simply died out to be replaced by another wave when the local climate improved.