November 30, 2022

Child’s Play: Are Tibetan Hand and Foot Traces From 200,000 Years Ago the Earliest Example of Parietal Art?

Five handprints and 5 footprints appear to have been carefully placed most likely by 2 kids evaluating by the size of the traces. The prints were not left during typical walking and appear to have actually been intentionally positioned. The kid making the footprints was probably around 7 years old and the other, who made the handprints, a little older, at 12 years in age..
Were the children casually playing in the mud while other members of the group took the waters at the hot spring? We do not know, however the group argues that they left a masterpiece. Prehistoric graffiti if you choose.
The group dated the travertine using a radiometric technique based on the decay of uranium found in the limestone. The age is surprising with the deposit dating to between ~ 169,000 and 226,000 years back. This dates from the middle Pleistocene (mid Ice Age) and provides proof for the earliest human profession found to date on the Tibetan Plateau. This is quite unbelievable when you consider the high altitude included, Quasang has an elevation of over 4200 meters and would have been cold even throughout an interglacial period. The age likewise makes this the earliest example of parietal art worldwide..
Where the children members of our own species, Homo sapiens, or members of another extinct hominin? We do not understand but potentially they may have been an enigmatic group of archaic hominins described as the Denisovans, offered other current skeletal finds on the Plateau..
Should we consider this as art? Well, that depends upon ones meaning, however the marks were deliberately made, and have a clear structure. Whatever these modest traces represent, they plainly evoke images of children at high elevations, delighting in a spot of innovative play.
Recommendation: “Earliest parietal art: Hominin hand and foot traces from the middle Pleistocene of Tibet” by David D. Zhang, Matthew R. Bennett, Hai Cheng, Leibin Wang, Haiwei Zhang, Sally C. Reynolds, Shengda Zhang, Xiaoqing Wang, Teng Li, Tommy Urban, Qing Pei, Zhifeng Wu, Pu Zhang, Chunru Liu, Yafeng Wang, Cong Wang, Dongju Zhang and R. Lawrence Edwards, 10 September 2021, Science Bulletin.DOI: 10.1016/ j.scib.2021.09.001.

Hand shapes are typically discovered in ancient caverns, usually the hand is used as a stencil with pigment spread out around the edge of the hand. We call this type of art parietal art, stable art if you choose, given that you cant take the cave wall with you when you move on, unlike an ornament.
At Quesang high on the Tibetan Plateau the team lead by Professor David Zhang (Guangzhou University) found hand and footprints maintained in travertine from a hot spring. We do not know, but the team argues that they left a work of art. Should we consider this as art?

In new research, a worldwide group describe ancient hand and footprints made deliberately which they argue represent art. Credit: Gabriel Ugueto
Fossilized footprints, and more seldom, handprints, can be found around the world left as individuals tackled their daily company, preserved by freak acts of geological conservation. In new research, an international group describe ancient hand and footprints made intentionally which they argue represent art.
Hand shapes are typically discovered in ancient caves, generally the hand is used as a stencil with pigment spread out around the edge of the hand. The caverns at Sulawesi (Indonesia) or at El Castillo (Spain) have some fine examples and are the earliest understood to date. We call this type of art parietal art, stable art if you prefer, given that you cant take the cave wall with you when you carry on, unlike an ornament.
At Quesang high up on the Tibetan Plateau the team lead by Professor David Zhang (Guangzhou University) discovered hand and footprints maintained in travertine from a warm spring. Travertine is freshwater limestone, often used as restroom tiles, and in this case transferred from warm water fed by geothermal heat. The limescale that builds up in your kettle offers an analogy for this. When soft the travertine takes an impression, but then solidifies to rock.

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