Earliest parietal art: hominin hand and foot traces from the middle Pleistocene of Tibet

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Zhang, David D.; Bennett, Matthew R.; Cheng, Hai; Wang, Leibin; Zhang, Haiwei; Reynolds, Sally C.; Zhang, Shengda; Wang, Xiaoqing; Li, Teng; Urban, Tommy; Pei, Qing; Wu, Zhifeng; Zhang, Pu; Liu, Chunru; Wang, Yafeng; Wang, Cong; Zhang, Dongju; Lawrence Edwards, R.
Year of Publication: 2021
Journal: Science Bulletin
Date Published: 2021/09/10/
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 2095-9273
Keywords: Hominin, Ichnology, parietal art, Tibet

At Quesang on the Tibetan Plateau we report a series of hand and foot impressions that appear to have been intentionally placed on the surface of a unit of soft travertine. The travertine was deposited by water from a hot spring which is now inactive and as the travertine lithified it preserved the traces. On the basis of the sizes of the hand and foot traces we suggest that two track-makers were involved and were likely children. We interpret this event as a deliberate artistic act that created a work of parietal art. The travertine unit on which the traces were imprinted dates to between ∼169 and 226 ka BP. This would make the site the earliest currently known example of parietal art in the world and would also provide the earliest evidence discovered to date for hominins on the High Tibetan Plateau (above 4000 m a.s.l.). This remarkable discovery adds to the body of research that identifies children as some of the earliest artists within the genus Homo.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scib.2021.09.001
Short Title: Science Bulletin
Related MOCA Topics: