The Bhimbetka rock shelters and paintings of India

Khursheed Dinshaw (India) The naturally formed rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India (Fig. 1) have a number of interesting paintings, which depict the lives of the people who lived here (Fig. 2). These rock shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. The Stone Age rock paintings can be seen on the walls, ceilings and hollows, and were created during a period when microliths were evolved. The paintings date back to the Mesolithic period. Fig. 1. The first rock shelter that greets you at Bhimbetka. Fig. 2. Rock art showing daily life at Bhimbetka. Due to their integrated nature, the Bhimbetka rock shelters were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2003. From the UNESCO website, it is clear that two of the criterion for the selection were: Bhimbetka reflects a long interaction between the people and the landscape, as demonstrated in the quantity and quality of its rock art.The area is closely associated with a hunting and gathering economy as can be seen in the pictures below, as shown in the rock art and in the relics of this tradition in the local Adivasi village on the periphery of this site (The name ‘Adivasi’ is an umbrella term for a heterogeneous group of ethnic and tribal groups, which are thought to be the aboriginal population of India.)The excavations carried out have yielded evidence of continuous human occupation from the Lower Palaeolithic until Medieval times. During this long span of … Read More

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