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The program Archaeological Exploration of Ladakh (AEL) aims at documenting all the types of monuments & remains (fortifications, rock art, Buddhist rock statuary, shrines, vernacular architecture, etc), from all periods (Prehistory to the 19th century), in all the regions, valleys and villages of Ladakh. The AEL comprises four components:

  1. The publication of a series of volumes on the heritage sites of Ladakh in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH, Delhi). This was initiated in 2015 with Kacho Mumtaz Khan and Vijaya Amujure. Five volumes are completed on the regions of Purig, Changthang, Nubra, Zanskar, and Sham, which include over 1500 heritage sites. These represent over 4,300km of tracks covered on foot and 30,000km of driving. The last volume will cover the central region of Zhungkor.
  2. The study of the funerary cave Gachu Lhabrog, in co-direction with Veena Mushrif-Tripathy (Deccan College Post-Graduate & Research Institute, Pune). It includes a genetic analysis in partnership with David Reich (Harvard Medical School), and an
    analysis in paleopathology with Kerttu Majander (Universiyt of Zurich). The anthropological analysis of the bones is the subject of Sonam Dolma’s PhD thesis at
    the Deccan College. The project has a funding from the National Geographic.
  3. The documentation and study of the rock art sites of Ladakh in collaboration with Tashi Ldawa (University of Ladakh), Viraf Mehta, Choldan Gasha, and Sonam Wangchuk (Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation). This has resulted in the creation of the Ladakh Rock Art Resource Centre (LRARC) in Leh in 2021, as well as the establishment of the Centre for Rock Art Studies & Heritage Conservation within the University of Ladakh in 2022. (
  4. Alongside the fieldwork conducted to document all the categories of heritage, close collaborations are engaged to analyse the sites in order to understand Ladakh’s past
    more in depth. These collaborations include Ai Nishida (Kyoto university) and Nils Martin (CRCAO, Paris) for the study of the old Tibetan inscriptions, Samara Broglia de Moura (CRCAO, Paris) for the study of ancient ceramics, Richard Salomon (University of Washington), for the study of Brāhmī and Kharoṣṭhī inscriptions,
    etc. (
  5. The publication of the open access archive, the largest databse on the heritage of Ladakh with over 160,000 images that cover 1900+ monuments/sites/heritage items spread all across Ladakh. These include 510+ petroglyph & pictograph sites, 330+ fortifications, 290+ temples, monasteries, nunneries (intact & in ruin), 270+ Buddhist carvings, 210+ stupa stones, 50+ painted chortens, 50+ cave sites, etc.


Five volumes completed in collaboration with l’INTACH : Historical sites of Purig (2018), Historical sites of Changthang (2019), Historical sites of Zanskar (2021), Historical sites of Nubra (2021), Historical sites of Sham (upcoming).

• Devers Q. , « Ladakh, des pétroglyphes au sommet du monde », Atlas des sites archéologiques menacés – patrimoine à protéger, N. Teyssandier, F. Bétard, S. Bourdin et F. Gourmelon (Éds.), Paris : Cherche midi, p.54–57.
• Devers Q. 2023. « Migration patterns, legends and historical records », The Tibetic Languages, an introduction to the family of languages derived from Old Tibetan, N. Tournadre et H. Suzuki, Villejuif : LACITO Publications–UMR7107, pp.615–617.
• Salomon R., Q. Devers, T. Ldawa, 2021. « Kharoṣṭhī and Brāhmī Inscriptions from Ladakh », Bulletin of the Asia institute (Detroit, Mich.), 30 : p.93–111.
• Devers Q., 2021. « An Archaeological Account of Nyarma and its Surroundings, Ladakh », Early West Tibetan Buddhist Monuments: Architecture, Art, History and Texts ; C. Jahoda et C. Kalantari. (Éds.), Vienna : Académie des Sciences d’Autriche (OAW), p.201–224.
• Devers Q. et N. Howard, 2020, « The defences of Basgo revisited », Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines (EMSCAT), 51.
• Devers Q., 2020, « Buddhism Before the First Diffusion? The Case of Tangol, Dras, Phikhar and Sani- Tarungtse in Purig and Zanskar (Ladakh) », Ladakh Through the Ages: A Volume on Art History & Archaeology, a special issue of EMSCAT, Q. Devers, G. Kozicz et H. Poell (Éds).
• Devers, Q. 2018. « Archaeological Ladakh: contribution of recent discoveries to redefining the history of a key region between the Pamirs and the Himalayas », L. Doney, E. Garatti et A. Devers (Éds), Central Asiatic Journal, Special issue: Old Tibet and its Neighbours, 61 (1), p.103–132.
• Devers Q., N. Martin, T. Ldawa, M. Kacho Khan. 2018. « Appendix: The Stepped Shrines of Kharul », Zentralasiatische Studien, International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 46.
• Schuh D. et Q. Devers. 2018. Die erfundene Geschichte (Fake-Story) vom tragischen Schicksal der muslimischen Königin Bhi-bhi: Neue Urkundenfunde aus Sangrah: Quellen zur Geschichte des niederen Landadels im Suru-Tal (Purig), Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies.
• Devers Q. 2017. « Charting ancient routes in Ladakh: an archaeological documentation », Interaction in The Himalayas And Central Asia: Processes Of Transfer, Translation And Transformation In Art, Archaeology, Religion And Polity,
F. Grenet, A. Vergati, J. Ebert, M.K. Lang et C. Jahoda (Éds), Académie des Sciences d’Autriche (ÖAW), p.321–338.
• Devers Q.. 2016. « Fortifications of Ladakh: a brief chrono-typology », Visible Heritage: Essays on the Art and Architecture of Greater Ladakh, R. Linrothe et H. Poell (Éds), Delhi: Bibliaimpex, p.41–64.




archaeology epigraphy history histoire de l’art



Quentin Devers (French Institute of Pondicherry)

CRCAO members

Associated members
Quentin Devers (French Institute of Pondicherry)

Nils Martin (Independent)

Outside Participants

Sonam Choldan Gasha (independant researcher)
Sonam Dolma Gone (Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute)
Tashi Ldawa (Professor, Leh Degree College, India)
Viraf Mehta (Independent Researcher, Delhi, India)
Veena Mushrif-Tripathy (Assistant Professor, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, India)
David Reich (Professor, Harvard University, United States)
Ai Nishida (Associate Professor, Kyoto University)