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Science. 2018 Nov 30;362(6418):1049-1051. doi: 10.1126/science.aat8824.

The earliest human occupation of the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau 40 thousand to 30 thousand years ago.

Zhang XL1,2, Ha BB3, Wang SJ1,2, Chen ZJ3, Ge JY4,2,5, Long H6, He W3, Da W7, Nian XM8, Yi MJ9, Zhou XY1,2,5, Zhang PQ1,2,5, Jin YS1,2,5, Bar-Yosef O10, Olsen JW11,12, Gao X4,2,5.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China.
2
CAS Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Beijing 100044, China.
3
Tibetan Cultural Relics Conservation Institute, Lhasa 850000, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
4
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China. gaoxing@ivpp.ac.cn gejunyi@ivpp.ac.cn.
5
University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
6
State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China.
7
Nagqu Prefecture Cultural Relics Bureau, Nagqu 852000, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
8
State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China.
9
School of History, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China.
10
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
11
School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
12
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk 630090, Russian Federation.

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau is the highest and one of the most demanding environments ever inhabited by humans. We investigated the timing and mechanisms of its initial colonization at the Nwya Devu site, located nearly 4600 meters above sea level. This site, dating from 40,000 to 30,000 years ago, is the highest Paleolithic archaeological site yet identified globally. Nwya Devu has yielded an abundant blade tool assemblage, indicating hitherto-unknown capacities for the survival of modern humans who camped in this environment. This site deepens the history of the peopling of the "roof of the world" and the antiquity of human high-altitude occupations more generally.

PMID:
30498126
DOI:
10.1126/science.aat8824
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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