SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 782-790.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2022.05.004

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Artistic Creation of Hominin on the Tibetan Plateau: Hand and Foot Traces Analysis of Middle Pleistocene

Zhang D David1(), Wang Leibin1,*(), Matthew R Bennett2, Zhang Shengda1, Zhang Haiwei3, Li Teng1, Zhang Yue1, Su Jiajia1, Wang Xiaoqing1   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Remote Sensing, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, Guangdong, China
    2. Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK
    3. Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710054, Shaanxi, China
  • Received:2021-11-01 Revised:2022-01-01 Online:2022-05-10 Published:2022-07-11
  • Contact: Wang Leibin;
  • Supported by:
    The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research(2019QZKK0601);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971110);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41901098)


A new ‘parietal art’ composed of 5 handprints and 5 footprints on travertine deposit has been found during the second scientific expedition of Tibetan plateau in Chusang Village, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region. Anatomical measurement, 3D model simulation, Uranium dating and morphology analysis has been conducted on this ‘parietal art’. The results indicate that: 1) The ‘parietal art’ was created deliberately on the soft travertine before it fossilized; 2) The fossil travertine with ‘parietal art ’ was dated to between around 169 000 and 226 000 B.P.) based on uranium series dating, which includes a direct dating age of a fingerprint on the surface (188 000 to 207 000 B.P.); 3) This discovery is one of the earliest records of hominin activities on the Tibetan plateau, and it also provides new evidence for hominin to adapt to low temperature and hypoxia environment; 4) This ‘parietal art’ is the world’s earliest rock art and the handprints on it are also the earliest handprints left by hominin. 5) This “parietal art “demonstrate that the ‘unknown type of hominin’ has cognitive and spatial perception capabilities. In addition, the discovery of this rock art will also have the potential to rewrite the history of human art and to deepen our understanding of the cognition level of ancient hominin that have already disappeared.

Key words: the Tibetan Plateau, parietal art, hominin, cognitive level

CLC Number: 

  • Q981