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Archaeological survey of Ladakh

by Lemardelé Élise - published on

Principal Investigator : Quentin DEVERS (CNRS)

Participants :

Full Members

Quentin Devers

International Collaborators

Sonam Dolma (PhD candidate, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, India), Tashi Ldawa (Professor, Leh Degree College, India), Viraf Mehta (Independent Researcher, Delhi, India), Kacho Mumtaz Khan (co-convenor, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Leh chapter, India), Veena Mushrif-Tripathy (Assistant Professor, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, India), David Reich (Professor, Harvard University, United States)

PhD Candidate

Samara Broglia de Moura (EPHE)


The “Archaeological Survey of Ladakh” aims to explore Ladakh’s history through an original and comprehensive approach based on:
• The thorough survey of all the regions, valleys and villages of Ladakh.
• The documentation of all vestige types: fortifications, cult places (undamaged as well as ruined; pre-Buddhist, Buddhist and Muslim), vernacular fortifications, rock art, Buddhist rock statuary, etc.
• By taking all periods into account, from prehistory all the way to the annexation of the region by the Dogras in the 19th century.

This project will have two main research focuses:
• First, an inventory of the historical sites of the different regions of Ladakh: this part is conducted in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Delhi, India) and was initiated in 2015 by Kacho Mumtaz Khan and Quentin Devers. To date, more than 600 historical sites have been documented within three of Ladakh’s regions — a first volume detailing the sites of the region of Purig was published in 2018. The next publications will focus on the historical sites of Changthang (2019), Zanskar (2020), Nubra (2021), Upper Ladakh (2023), and Lower Ladakh (2025).
• Second, the excavation of the Gashu Lhabrog cave in Ladakh, in which significant deposits of human bones were found, as well as rock-cut tombs. This part is conducted in collaboration with Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute (Pune, India), and is co-led by Veena Mushrif-Tripathy and Quentin Devers. Research on this cave opens new perspectives for our understanding of pre-Buddhist populations in Ladakh. The project includes the genetic analysis of bones in partnership with David Reich. The anthropological analysis of these bones is the subject of Sonam Dolma’s PhD thesis, a Ladakhi student in Archaeology.