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Prehistoric Scratchpad

The Chinese Prefecture of Altay contains many rock carvings and paintings dating back to at least 12,000 years ago. One site has possibly the world's earliest depiction of skiing, while another one seems to depict modern day objects such as aircraft. Herds of camels, sheep, wolves, and humans are also depicted.


10,000 Years Ago[]

The earliest paintings from the Duogate caves date from this time period. A pictograph resembling an aircraft is estimated to be created at this time. Most paintings in the area depicted life and religion of the northern nomadic people from ancient times.

Earlier History[]

Local archaeologists believe sacred cave in Dundebulake village has the world's earliest portrayal of ski-ing drawn 12,000 years ago.

Later History[]

The widespread occurrence of rock art suggests frequent cultural exchanges among nomadic tribes in ancient times, long before the Silk Road.

This region would later become a part of the Silk Road.

Modern History[]

In 2006, local archaeologists declared that Altay was the birthplace of skiing. In 2015, a team of archaeologists from China, India, and Australia inspected the caves and confirmed the drawings came from different time periods.


Altay is a prefecture in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There are at least 114 rock carving or drawing sites and 11 pictographs. The Duogate caves are owned by the Duogate company in Habahe county.


Altay Rock Art Web Pages[]

Altay Rock Art In the News[]

Did Skiing Originate in China (2006)[]

Modern Skiing in Altai[]

Archaeologists inspect Paintings (Jun 2015)[]

Ancient Altai Harp Reproduced (Apr 2015)[]

Imaginations High in Interpreting Rock Carvings (Feb 2018)[]



Altai skiing roots

Altai skiing roots.

Google Earth[]