Conquering the Tibetan Plateau

Many different movies and books have tried to depict the harsh weather and the difficulty of conquering the Tibetan Plateau.  A recent expedition was able to uncover that people settled in the area much earlier than previously thought. Researchers were able to find tools that date back some 30,000 years.

The Tibetan Plateau is located some 4,500 meters above sea level. The only other evidence of human colonization of these parts dates back some 8,000 years. Another theory is that the first settlers arrived some 12,000 years ago.

Now, scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences uncovered a much older site. While examining tree sediment layers, they were able to discover around 3,500 stone artifacts made from quality rock.

The scientists best estimate about the age of the excavated tools is around 40,000 to 30,000 years. The next settlers arrived around 25,000 years ago, and then finally the last group came somewhere between 13,000 and 4,000 years ago. The scientists found a site that was probably used as a workshop. This workshop was used to create different tools like rectangular blades that are used for cutting and scraping.

The reason people came to the Tibetan Plateau was to hunt gazelles and yaks. The settlers arrived seasonally in order to restock on goods that came from these animals, but they abandoned their settlements when weather conditions began to worsen.

Additionally, there is an excellent chance that the first settlers that came to the Nwya Devu location some 30,000 years ago developed a gene variant that allowed them to withstand the cold temperatures and oxygen deprivation caused by the high altitudes. The early settlers probably bred with Stone Age relatives of Neandertals as well as with early humans called the Denisovans, and that is how they inherited this gene mutation.

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