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Hunter-gatherers were possibly first to call Tibetan Plateau home

High-altitude foragers moved in long before farmers, new dates indicate

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2:00pm, January 5, 2017
Tibetan Plateau

HUNTER-GATHERER HANGOUT  New dates for hand- and footprints on a rock slab suggest that foragers lived year-round on the Tibetan Plateau, shown here, well before farmers did. Much about initial settlement of this high-altitude region remains unclear, though.

People hunted and foraged year-round in the thin air of China’s Tibetan Plateau at least 7,400 to 8,400 years ago, a new study suggests. And permanent settlers of the high-altitude region might even have arrived as early as 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

Three lines of dating evidence indicate that humans occupied the central Tibetan Plateau’s Chusang site, located more than 4,000 meters above sea level, at least 2,200 years earlier than previously thought, say geologist Michael Meyer of the University of Innsbruck in Austria and colleagues. Their report, published in the Jan. 6 Science, challenges the idea that the Tibetan Plateau lacked permanent settlers until farming groups arrived around 5,200 years ago.

“Hunter-gatherers permanently occupied the Tibetan Plateau by around 8,000 years ago, which coincided with a strong monsoon throughout Asia that created wet

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