Prehistoric art etched into the rocks at Kathotiya in the state has attracted the attention of a team of Spanish experts, who toured the region to assess the possibility of documenting the drawings in dozens of rock shelters.
An eight-member team from Spain’s Centre d’Estudis Contestans concluded a 10-day visit to the rock shelters in Sehore district on Sunday. They have spoken of the possibility of starting a project to document and research the rock art spread over 65 rock shelters cut into the Vindhyachal hill ranges.
“The shelters at Kathotiya offer great possibility for research and exploration because of the range and concentration of rock art available,” said Pere Ferrer i Marset, president of the Spanish centre.
Local rock art expert Narayan Vyas, who accompanied the Spanish team, told Hindustan Times that only the approximate age of India’s rock art is known because of the lack of a scientific dating process.
“If colour pigment testing is taken up, the exact age of the rock art would be known and we might be able to compare our sites with international ones,” said Vyas, who has a DLit degree on the world heritage rock art site of Bhimbetka.
Kathotiya, about 25 km from Bhopal, is part of the famous “S-belt” of rock art, so named because eminent archaeologist Shankar Tiwari discovered it in 1975. A major focus of any research at the site would be ascertaining the age of the rock art through the testing of pigments, the experts said. A project would be initiated only after obtaining permission from the central and state governments, Marset said.
The S-belt has rock art ranging from the medieval period (about 500 to 1,000 years old) to the Mesolithic period (about 5,000 to 10,000 years old). Almost 60% of India’s painted rock shelters are located in Madhya Pradesh, and most of the rock art sites are around Bhopal.
The Spanish team had done an initial survey of the S-belt in March last year and zeroed in on Kathotiya.