A Comprehensive Survey of Pre-Buddhist Monuments and Rock Art in the Tibetan Upland


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Postodctoral Fellowships (North America)


East Asia Center


This study compiles a catalogue of around 420 pre-Buddhist archaeological sites for the Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library (THDL). The THDL has emerged as the leading digital resource for interactive Tibetan and Himalayan studies across a wide range of disciplines. Over the last 12 years, the visible remains of pre-Buddhist residential and ceremonial monuments (citadels, temples, necropoli, tombs, and shrines) and rock art (pictographs and petroglyphs) in all areas of the vast Tibetan upland north and west of Lhasa were surveyed. These findings constitute the most extensive evidence compiled to date about the nature and extent of pre-Buddhist (archaic cultural phase) civilization on the highest reaches of the Tibetan Plateau. Informed study and initial chronometric analysis indicated that these physical traces of the Upper Tibetan human legacy date to between 800 BCE and 1000 CE (Iron Age, Protohistoric Period, and Early Historic Period). The overwhelming majority of these archaeological sites were first documented by the author. The catalogue will be structured to provide standardized data on each of the sites, will be no less than 200,000 words in length, and will include around 2,000 photographs. Each entry will furnish information on the geographic setting, morphology, oral traditions, and Tibetan textual references pertaining to an archaeological site.