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Tibet inhabited by humans 40,000 years ago, evidence among China’s top 10 archaeological news in 2023

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(, Dec27’23) – While traditional or official Tibetan history begins from 127 BC with the enthronement of King Nyatri Tsenpo, the progenitor of the Yarlung dynasty, the country, now China-occupied, was known to be inhabited by humans as far back as some 40,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence of this unearthed since 2018 has figured as one of China’s top 10 archaeological news of 2023, according to China’s official Dec 26.

The China Media Group revealed China’s top 10 archaeological news of 2023 on Sunday; among the prestigious list, the Merungdap Cave site, located in Ge’gyai county, Ngari prefecture of the Xizang autonomous region, stood out as a remarkable discovery, the report said, using “Xizang” in place of “Tibet” in China’s ongoing move to further assimilate the occupied territory.

The report noted that this ground-breaking finding marked the first prehistoric human cave in the heartland of the Tibetan Plateau.

Archaeologists unearthed over 10,000 artefacts from various periods at the site, proving that humans inhabited the region as early as approximately 40,000 years ago, the report said.

It said this significant prehistoric cave site is situated at an altitude of around 4,600 metres and offers valuable insights into ancient human activities.

The excavations of this site were stated to have been carried out through a collaborative initiative between the region’s institute of cultural relics protection and the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology with the Chinese Academy of Sciences between 2018 and 2020. Three consecutive excavation campaigns were conducted at Cave No. 1 of the site, the report said.

Even older cultural layers were stated to have been excavated in 2021, including stone cores made of black horn shale, stone tools, and several animal bones. These findings indicate that ancient humans utilized the site in a history that extends further back and exhibits more complexity than previously known, the report said.

This discovery was stated to be the first large-scale cave site found in the western part of the Tibetan Plateau.


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