Rock Art Database

In 1996 Martin Vernier started to make an inventory of the varied archaeological remains of Ladakh. This approach primarily concerned the rock art heritage of the Zanskar region, in the 2000s it was then extended to that of Ladakh (106 rock art sites documented in 2006).

From 2007, Laurianne Bruneau joined Martin Vernier for the systematic survey and documentation of ladakhi rock art. This work, now ongoing since about twenty years, has allowed to date to accumulate documentation on more than 20 000 engraved figures.


rock art sites (91 surveyed only and 70 systematically documented).

20 000


As of today the data gathered on rock art is registered into two databases. The first database entitled “Rock art Ladakh project”, was created by Martin Vernier to support the publication of “Exploration and documentation of the petroglyphs of Ladakh: on 1996-2006” in 2007, the first book dealing with the subject (published thanks to the support of the Foundation Carlo and Mariena Montandon). The other database, was created by Laurianne Bruneau during her research which led to the defense of her Phd (in 2010) thesis entitled “Ladakh (state of Jammu and Kashmir, India) from the Bronze Age to the introduction of Buddhism: a study of the rock art”. This work, currently being translated into English and in the process of publication, is to this day the most comprehensive study of the rock art heritage of Ladakh.

In the databases, the documentation includes, for each site: a location plan, a complete description of the site (topography, environment, access, dimension, specificity, distribution and density of the engraved rocks) as well as the total number of engraved rocks / surfaces. Both databases also state, for every rock or engraved surface, its dimensions, slope, orientation, and the number of figures engraved. During the systematic documentation, for every figure the following data have been collected: dimension/size, orientation, patina, technique and identification. A photographic, exhaustive cover, in the case of sites documented in a systematic way, applies to all the various levels of documentation: site, surface and figures.


copies on transparent plastic sheets.

The MAFIL is currently merging data into a unique database, and making all the data on Ladakhi rock art gathered over the years available online. This work is supported by the East Asian Civilisations Research Centre in Paris. Mr Philippe PONS, engineer, works on a new, online, database since spring 2016. The database shall be online by the end of 2018.

Besides the documentation of petroglyphs, Martin Vernier initiated an inventory of Buddhist stone sculptures that are an important source to elucidate the religious, historical and artistic past of Ladakh.


Buddhist stone sculptures documented, out of which more than two thirds are previously unpublished.