Saturday, September 30, 2017


Chusang hand-and-footprint
site, Tibet, photo Wall Street
Journal, Public Domain.

On August 13, 2016, I wrote in this column "Highest Altitude Rock Art Revisited - Yet Again" about a rock art site in Tibet at approx. 15,600 feet in altitude above sea level. I have not yet been able to top that, but we now have heard of a Tibetan site with foot-and-hand-prints at 14,000 feet in altitude, a good second.

"human handprint preserved in
the soft limestone at the 14,000-
foot-high site of Chusang in central
Tibet was left there more than
7,000 years ago." (Coates 2017:42) 
Photo: Wall Street Journal,
Public Domain.

Published in the September/October 2017 issue of Archaeology magazine (volume 70, number 5) pages 38-43, by Karen Coates, The Heights We Go To, discussed a site in Tibet with both foot and hand prints at that altitude. It seems remarkable that people were there as long ago as 7,000 years, not that they could not have gone there back then, but I wonder why they would?

Coates was reporting on research by Mark Aldenderfer of the University of California, Merced. "Aldederfer  and several of his colleagues created a stir in early 2017 when they announced that they had evidence of preagricultural hunter-gatherers living in a permanent settlement system on the central Tibetan Plateau at least 7,400 years ago - thousands of years earlier than researchers had previously thought. That research centers on a site called Chusang, about 215 miles from Lhasa, at an elevation of 14,000 feet. There, 19 human hand-and footprints are embedded in a unique formation of travertine limestone created in the remains of ancient hot springs. No artifacts were found nearby, just the markings of up to six individuals who were at that site millennia ago." (Coates 2017:41)

The Tibetan examples of extreme altitude rock art testify to something very basic in humanity that can drive or inspire people to the most impressive results. You can read the whole article in the September/October issue of Archaeology magazine listed in REFERENCES below.

NOTE: Images in this posting were retrieved from the internet after a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below.


Coates, Karen,
2015 The Heights We Go To, Archaeology Magazine, Vol. 70, No. 5, September/October 2017, pages 38-43.

Faris, Peter
2016 Highest Altitude Rock Art Revisited - Yet Again,, August 13, 2016.

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