Kaimur Range Rock Art - India

Newly discovered Rock Art Heritage in the Kaimur Range of Bihar - India

(Read the article on one page)

The Kaimur Range, located in the eastern margin of the  Vindhyan Range in India, is comprised of about 800 square miles of undulating tableland.  The present study is primarily based on archaeological data supplemented by exploration and local traditions wherever possible.  Efforts were made to undertake extensive but arduous exploration of the most difficult caves and rock shelters of the Kaimur range with highly encouraging results. It was my rigorous effort made over seven years between 2007 and 2013 that I discovered 120 rock art sites in the Kaimur range of Bihar.

The subject matter of Kaimur rock art is marked by a wide range of depictions containing almost all major classes of representations like human beings, animals, geometric designs and floral designs including trees that can be observed both in pictographs as well as petroglyphs. Such combinations of all forms of pictographs and petroglyphs at a single location are difficult to be observed in other rock art regions of the country. The Kaimur range has an optimal mix of all forms and designs associated with rock art and thus may be termed as encyclopedia for rock art. The convergence of all major types of depictions is also very useful in comprehending the generalizations of social, economic, religious and technological aspects.

It is special in another way also because the continuation of rock art from the post-Mesolithic period extending up to almost the modern period is found here. Therefore, it equips a researcher with the ability to study the ethnographic connections of the rock art tradition.

Kaimur Range Rock Art

Most of the illustrations are rendered in different shades of ochre, which was presumably prepared by utilizing the hematite nodules abundantly found on the surface of the rock shelters and in the nearby areas. Almost all the rock art has been executed on the smooth surfaces of the inner walls, floor and ceilings of the rock-shelters and caves. Moreover, imitation of earlier rock art continued for centuries, not only in the prehistoric period but also in the historical period.

Generally speaking, this class of art can be divided in to two main types: pictographs and petroglyphs. The latter term refers images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. The former refers to images drawn or painted on a rock face. In the Kaimur region, rock art is mostly confined to pictographs with petroglyphs being exceptionally rare. In many cases, the paintings of an earlier period are superimposed by subsequent paintings and as a result it is often quite difficult to identify the paintings of a particular phase.

The discovery of rock paintings depicting prehistoric lifestyles has not only added a new dimension to Indian history but also suggests that the indigenous culture was similar to cultures found in many other parts of India. As the process of evolution continued, primitive man devised the practice of drawing to express his feelings of daily life through pictures. They took their subject matter from the natural world around them: the sun, moon, stars, animals, birds, plants and so on. They also depicted the various activities of their everyday life, like hunting and dancing.

The continuation of the rock art tradition up to the modern era in the Kaimur range has added additional advantages as we find there many historical landmarks in association with it, such as numerous inscriptions belonging to different phases of history. Similarly a lot of human activity from different periods can be observed here; in the form of pictographic evidence, we can see a group of male and female figures having different hand poses, and a fertility ceremony in which some male figures with erected phallus stand in front of female figures. Furthermore, historical paintings comprising the paintings of a preaching Lord Buddha flanked by votive stupas (ceremonial mounds) have been depicted, which provide important evidence for the existence of Buddhism in the region.

Kaimur Range Rock ArtNon-iconic petroglyphs include images which are box like, circular with some lines inside connecting with each line, dots in eight rows running from a west to an east direction. Similar types of artistic work have been found in Australia. Evidence of criss-cross engravings and gauging have also been found on the floor of some caves, made with the help of sharp pointed tools, as well as pit holes, and circular lines motifs on ceilings.

Besides the vast assemblage of art, the rock art sites yield an equally large assemblage of archaeological data such as evidence for the production of microlithic tools, potsherds (broken pieces of ceramic material), hematite lying embedded on the floor and microliths, which amply suggest that man occupied the shelters and were habitation sites. All the tools are made of chert, quartz and other locally available semi precious stones.

Comments

The boxlike figure shown in one of the pictures is a game I found quite often during a trekking in Nepal, drawn on stones on the path. It is for 2 players. One has 4 tigers placed in the angles and the other has 20 goats added one by one. The tigers can eat the goats jumping over them, but the goats can block the tigers. I don't know the 2 triangles on opposite sides. It's quite fun to play.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Open Book Photo
A legend is a tale regarded as historical even though it has not been proven, and the term “myth” can refer to common yet false ideas. Many myths and legends describe our history, but they are often treated skeptically. This is because many of them, while explaining a phenomenon, involve divine or supernatural beings.

Human Origins

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Ancient Technology

Invention of Wheel - Sumer
In today’s world, technology is developing at an unprecedented rate. The latest gadget today is tomorrow’s antique. As a result of this rapid development of technology, we often take things for...

Ancient Places

Google Earth image of manmade stone structures in Saudi Arabia
Deep in the heart of Saudi Arabia, 400 peculiar stone structures have been found, dating back thousands of years ago. These stone features were discovered by archaeologists with the use of satellite imagery, identifying what they call stone "gates" in an extremely unwelcome and harsh area of the Arabian Peninsula.

Opinion

The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article