There has been brief mention these past few days of two human footprints that have been found preserved in sandstone, by a team of archaeologists under the supervision of Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani, of Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations at the Quaid-i-Azam University, in Islamabad. As we see…

A footprint of 1 feet is in complete and well preserved form while another is broken from the finger side which is also of the same size in comparative manner. The notable marks of the feet are the clear veins and opposite folded appearance.

“A huge stone on the top of the hill is the secure home of these prints since about over one million years ago,” says A.K. Azad, an archaeologist and head of the project.

Further research may give more clues of the foot marks through anthropological and geophysical methods, he observed.

The recent discovery is the continuity of the Indusian Research Cell’s earlier research about human evolution which previously revealed a fossilised upper jaw from the site of Dhudhumber, foot and hand prints from Attock and Palaeolithic cave from Margalla Hill.

If the dates are correct, it would mean the most likely owner of the feet that left the prints was Homo erectus, an archaic species of human which has come to be seen as the first truly pioneering hominid which spread itself far and wide across the Old World – although there is still debate as to whether all Homo erectus evolved in Africa, and populated the outside world in an ongoing series of migration events, or whether the species evolved separately in both Africa and Asia.

At 1 million years old, these Homo erectus footprints are significantly younger than the 1.7m bp Dmanisi fossils, which themselves are considerably younger than the purported 2.25m bp stone tools found at the site of Renzidong in China. However, even these early hominid sites may have been eclipsed by finds announced in 2000, by M.P.Singh, described in this abstract…

The Siwalik Hills have yielded what is perhaps the world’s most ancient early hominid. In December 1992 I discovered a hominid mandibular ramus and a hominid femur in association with stone tools in the Tatrot Formation of the upper Siwalik. The discovery was made from the Tatrot Formation exposed at Khetpurali Village in Haryana, North India. The teeth are bunodont, having a lingually inclined wear plane. The P3 is molariform and single rooted.

The femur is platymeric and has medullary stenosis. The stone tools are chopper types. Magnetostratigraphic dating of the Tatrot Formation ranges from 2.47 Myr at the top to 5.44 Myr at the base. The hominid — yielding bed is dated at 3.40 Myr — Middle Pliocene. The palaeoecology of the Tatrot Formation suggests open savannah. The discovery will cast new light on the origin and migration of the early hominids, and hopefully will contribute to a solution of the 100-year-old dispute about the African or Asian origin of humans.

The full paper is behind a paywall, and I’m not sure what developments, if any, have occurred since then – in the meantime, it appears that further work will be undertaken by others, or extensions to the project “Post-earthquake Explorations of Human Remains in Margalla Hills”, which was set up in the wake of the disastrous earthquake at Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, which hit the region back in October 2005. (TJ)

see also: New Dimensions Of Ancient Heritage Explored In Soan Valley