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Cave Paintings Discovered in Tapti Valley, India
2007 Mar 14


Archaeologists have recently discovered cave paintings in the Tapti Valley, deep inside the Satpura mountain range of Madhya Pradesh.
The group of scientists, led by Dr. Vijay Ingole from Amravati and comprising Mr. Padmakar Lad, Mr. Shirishkumar Patil, Mr. Dnyaneswar Damahe and Mr. Pradeep Hirurkar, has been in search of rock art in the Satpura range for the last 7 years. Their efforts eventually paid off in January 2007 when they discovered the painted caves.

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

The caves are located high up in the sandstone hills of the Satpura Range. The first cave discovered is north-facing, in good condition and has more than 50 paintings, comprising mainly of animal figures such as deer, samber, rhinos, wild dogs, bulls, a bison, a tiger, and interestingly a long-necked animal resembling a giraffe. The stags have been painted with very prominent long antlers.

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

Most of the rock art has been painted in red, probably using ground iron oxide. Other images which have been painted in white mainly depict human figures on horse-back. Two smooth deep holes, 10 cms in diameter and 15 cms deep, were also found near the cave, possibly for the grinding of minerals for the paint.

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

This cave appears to have been visited at a subsequent and more recent date as some overwriting is apparent.

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

The second cave is located on a nearby and extremely inaccessible cliff. South-facing, it has been highly exposed, as evinced by the weathered rock art - mainly comprising of similar red-painted animal figures, most notably an impressive vulture.

cave paintings in the Tapti Valley

A number of other caves in the area show fewer examples of rock art, but most of which have been vandalised.

As to the dating of the rock art, more research must be carried out, but a group of caves known as the Bhimbetka Caves in the Vindya range of mountains near Bhopal, display similar characteristics. The Bhimbetka rock art, discovered by Mr. Wakankar in 1956 and now a designated UNESCO heritage site, has been dated to the Upper Paleolithic - possibly 15,000 bp.


Considering the fragile nature of the paintings, the exact location cannot be disclosed.

Dr. Vijay Ingole, March 2007
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