Supported by the US National Science Foundation

The Tibetan Plateau is a unique high-elevation environment occupying a substantial portion of the Asian continent. Cold alpine and desert steppes dominate the region; environments distinctive for the extreme ecological and evolutionary challenges they present. Archaeological evidence from various locations on the Plateau suggests that hunter-gatherer groups first colonized the area during the late Pleistocene. Blade and microblade technologies are found in abundance as surface assemblages between 2500-5000m above sea level (asl). Radiocarbon dates of 13-11,000 years BP have been obtained from two different archaeological localities both above 3000m asl, and geological correlations at several other sites suggest that the earliest hunter-gatherer occupations of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau may date to 25-23,000 years BP. What evolutionary and ecological processes led hunter-gatherer populations to occupy these extreme environments? And, what behavioral strategies facilitated successful colonization? The answers to these questions will provide important insights into the fundamental features of human behavioral adaptations and hold implications for explaining major biogeographic events in human evolutionary history such as the colonization of the Americas.

Vol. 160, No. 1, July 7, 2001

Santa Fe Institute Bulletin
Winter 2002 Vol 17 (1)

Vol. 164, No. 6, August 9, 2003


P. Jeffrey Brantingham
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Los Angeles

Gao Xing
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing, China

Richard E. Hughes
Geochemical Research Laboratory
Portola Valley, CA

Ma Haizhou
Qingai Salt Lake Institute
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Qinghai, Xining, China

David B. Madsen
Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory
University of Texas at Austin

John W. Olsen
Department of Anthropology
University of Arizona, Tucson

Lewis A. Owen
University of California, Riverside

David E. Rhode
Desert Research Institute
Reno, Nevada


TPP Members and expedition vehicles in
Xining, September 2002



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