Rock Art and Archaeology: Analysing Space and Meaning in Adamgarh | Center for Archaeology, Heritage & Museum Studies

Rock Art and Archaeology: Analysing Space and Meaning in Adamgarh

This project aims to conduct an archaeological investigation of the painted rock shelters of Adamgarh hill, a sandstone/laterite outcrop in the district of Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh.

This project, by Prapti Panda, aims to conduct an archaeological investigation of the painted rock shelters of Adamgarh hill, a sandstone/laterite outcrop in the district of Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. Well-known for its diverse range of paintings- which include flora and fauna, scenes of human activity, and abstract and geometric motifs- Adamgarh is believed to have been occupied from the Paleolithic era onwards. Excavations conducted in 1960-61 in selected rock shelters here also revealed stone tools such as choppers, cleavers, hand-axes, and microlithic blades, along with traces of their production. Apart from this, and occasional projects recording rock art in Central India, Adamgarh and its rock art have not been subjected to detailed archaeological examination.

As part of this project, Prapti Panda plans to explore the significance of the landscape of Adamgarh through a systematic, contextual study of the rock shelters and their paintings. Since many of these paintings are poorly preserved and their details are not very clear, her project will use DStretch©, a program developed by researcher Jon Harman, to systematically identify and record them. DStretch© operates on a technique known as decorrelation stretch, which is commonly used for enhancing multispectral images in remote sensing. Because of its ability to separate subtle differences in pigment hues, it is extremely useful for analysing paintings that are faded or barely discernible, as well as those which have been superimposed by others.

This process of recording and analysing through DStretch© will allow Prapti to analyse the style, content, and perhaps evolve a relative chronology of the paintings. This documentation, when combined with a study of the paintings’ placement and associations with each other both within as well as across shelters, will allow her to contextually understand the rock art at this site. Rock art in archaeology is considered to be an important means through which the dwellers of a landscape identify with and imbue meaning into its spaces. Therefore, she argues that the creation and transformation of Adamgarh’s significance as a place can be examined through the production of its rock art. Towards that aim, she hopes that a systematic, contextualised archaeological investigation of its paintings and the spaces they inhabit will allow her to understand the associations that people may have made amongst themselves and with the physical landscape of Adamgarh.