Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, Madhya Pradesh: Rock Art Petroglyph Site, c. 200,000 - 500,000 BP

This gallery is not a comprehensive review of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters; its purpose is to provide some sense of the landscape and further context for the Auditorium Cave gallery on this website.

Bhimbetka. The Bhimbetka World Heritage Site, Madhya Pradesh, near the Narmada River, Raisen District, in central India, is some forty kilometers north of the Narmada hominid site. The quartzite formations of Bhimbetka comprise 754 numbered shelters, over 500 with rock paintings. Archaeological investigations began in 1971 and eleven (11) shelters were partly excavated. It was shown that some of these sites contained well-stratified sequences from Lower Paleolithic cobble tools and ending in historical times.

Dating. Trench II, Site III F-24, Auditorium Cave (excavated V. S. Wakankar): overlying layer 8 of cobble tool choppers and scrapers, a sterile layer is topped by two Acheulian layers: Layer 6, quartzite handaxes, cleavers, scrapers; Layer 5, quartzite cleavers, handaxes, scrapers; overlain by a Middle Paleolithic layer and above this, Mesolithic, Chalcolithic & historical layers [Wakankar VS. (1975). Bhimbetka - the prehistoric paradise. Prachya Pratibha 3,2:7-29]. In the general scheme of Indian dating (considering Bori and other Maharashtra sites and Attirampakkam, Tamil Nadu) the Later (and Middle) Acheulian dates back to ca. 500-700K BP and the Final Acheulian ca. 200K BP, and thus the Bhimbetka petroglyphs would fall within this range.

Photo © James Harrod or as otherwise noted. All James Harrod site photos taken on tour of Bhimbetka, International Rock Art Congress - 2004, Rock Art Society of India, 12/4/2004. This gallery first posted 10/16/2006.

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