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13 December 2011
Ancient human remains uncovered in western Nepal

A team of national and international climbers, scientists, archaeologists, historians and anthropologists has found evidence of thousands of years of civilization in the caves of Upper Mustang in western Nepal. After beginning the first phase of its research in 2008, the team discovered human remains dating back to 3,000 years.
     According to Mohan Singh Lama, an archaeologist with the Department of Archaeology (DoA), the earliest findings date back to prehistory, when the Indus Valley and the Chinese civilizations were slowly making inroads into Nepal via present day India and the Tibetan plateau. "Since cave settlement was not popular in other places around, we can view this as an independent civilization," he said.
     The team found square coffins in the caves with human skeletons, perched under a great deal of jewelry and tools. "Many of the graves were dug by treasure hunters," Lama said. The team has so far been able to explore at least nine caves, and more recent Tibetan Buddhist shrines were also found there.
     Mark Aldenderfer, an archaeologist at the University of California who is leading the excavation team, claims people have been living in the Mustang valley since 10,000 years. "Our team found stone tools near Kagbeni. These tools resemble those found at lower elevations. Their presence suggests people have been moving into the valley for a very long time," Aldenderfer said.

Edited from People's Daily Online (12 December 2011), The Kathmandu Post (13 December 2011)

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