Bournemouth University team finds handprint in Tibet

A RESEARCH team from the University of Bournemouth has been involved in the discovery of what are believed to be the oldest known examples of still art in the world.

Carefully placed hands and footprints have been found immortalized in rock in Tibet by research teams from Guangzhou University in China and Bournemouth University.

The footprints are believed to have been left between 169,000 and 226,000 years ago, in the midst of an ice age, as the journal Science Bulletin reports.

Five handprints and five footprints were found in Quesang on the Tibetan Plateau, preserved in freshwater limestone deposited around a hot spring – known as travertine. Analysis of the footprints shows that they appear to have been carefully placed by children aged 7 to 12, judging by their size and height.

Matthew Bennett, professor of environmental and geographic sciences at the BU, was part of the research team. He said: “The footprints were not left by normal walking and appear to have been deliberately left in what may be the first example of still or cave art we have found to date.

“You can imagine these children playing in the mud near a hot spring, carefully placing their hands and feet, where they have been kept for thousands of years so that we can find them, like a child might. in cement today. This mud-like clay hardened and turned into travertine, which kept those playful hands and imprints frozen in time.

The team dated the footprints using a radiometric method based on the decay of uranium found in travertine, showing that the footprints provide evidence of the first hominid occupation found to date on the plateau. Tibetan.

Dr Sally Reynolds, senior scholar and hominin paleoecologist at BU, said: “This is an incredible find, especially considering the elevation of the site on the plateau, which would have been cold and oxygen would have been scarce. .

“It gives us clues to how people lived and interacted many years ago and it’s a wonderful example of children playing.”