The “Archaeological Exploration of Ladakh” aims at exploring Ladakh’s history through a comprehensive approach based on:

  • The thorough survey of all regions, valleys and villages of Ladakh.
  • The documentation of all types of remains: fortifications, cult places (intact or ruined; pre-Buddhist, Buddhist or Muslim), vernacular architecture, rock art, Buddhist rock statuary, etc.
  • By taking all periods into account, from prehistory to the annexation of the region by the Dogras in the 19th century.

This project has two main components:

  • 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, nearly a thousand historical sites have been documented within four of Ladakh’s six regions. The volumes on the regions of Purig and Changthang were released in 2018 and 2019, and a third on Zanskar is scheduled for printing in 2021. The fourth volume on Nubra is under preparation. The last two will be about the regions of Sham and Zhungkor.
  • Second, the excavation of the cave Gashu Lhabrog, in which significant deposits of human bones were found. This part is conducted in collaboration with the 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 up new perspectives for the understanding of pre-Buddhist populations in Ladakh. The project includes the genetic analysis of bones in partnership with David Reich. The anthropological analysis of the bones is the subject of Sonam Dolma’s PhD thesis, a Ladakhi student in Archaeology.



archaeology Ladakh heritage



Quentin Devers (French Institute of Pondicherry)

CRCAO members

Associated members
Quentin Devers (French Institute of Pondicherry)

Nils Martin (Independent)

Doctoral students
Samara Broglia de Moura (École Pratique des Hautes Études)

Outside Participants

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)