The ancient human hand and foot impressions Chinese scientists discovered in the Tibet autonomous region in 1998 have been listed among the Top 10 New Archaeological Discoveries of the World in 2021 by Archaelogy, a publication by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Research shows that these ancient human relics could be 160,000 and 200,000 years old. That means they could be the earliest human relics to be found anywhere in the world.
Chinese scientists from the Guangzhou University discovered the impressions not far from a hot spring in the village of Chusang, which literally translates to "good water" and is a suburb in the region's capital of Lhasa.
The impressions are strong evidence of permanent or seasonal human habitation in the plateau region.
Like its name, Chusang actually flaunts a medicinal hot spring, much sought after by tourists and those with skin diseases. The village is also famous as the birthplace of Yuthok Yonten Gonpo (729-853), the founder of the traditional Tibetan medicine.
Local Tibetan residents have, for generations, been protecting the site, honoring their ancestors' belief that the prints are holy. News of the place being included among the top 10 discoveries has expectedly enthused the village's residents.
Tsering Dorje, a resident of Chusang, said the locals worship the impressions as the hand and foot impressions of Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism.
"Locals run inns for patients who come to take a dip in the hot spring. We believe more tourists will flock to our village now," the 57-year-old said. "More tourists means more business opportunities, so my family is also planning to operate guesthouses this year."