200,000-Year-Old Hand Art Found Near a Tibetan Hot Spring

Home Technology 200,000-Year-Old Hand Art Found Near a Tibetan Hot Spring
200,000-Year-Old Hand Art Found Near a Tibetan Hot Spring
Paleoart of the fossil-making.
Artist’s imagining of two mid-Pleistocene hominins making their marks.
Illustration: Gabriel Ugeto

An international team of researchers has reported the discovery of hand and foot prints from Quesang, in the Tibetan Plateau. The fossil impressions, which date to between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago and seem to have been created intentionally, could represent the earliest known art of its kind.

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Called parietal art, this form of ancient visual expression typically crops up on cave walls but can also be made on the ground, as appears to be the case for the recent Tibet discovery. The fossil is a series of hand and foot impressions, none of which overlap.

Besides potentially being the oldest known parietal art, the site is the earliest evidence for hominins so high on the Tibetan Plateau, which sits about 12,000 feet above sea level. The team’s work describing the fossilized prints was published this week in Science Bulletin.

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