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Rock art refers to artistic manifestation drawn by humans on rocky surface, the earliest of which in India goes back to Lower Palaeolithic period, that is about 300000 years back
 
India has a rich rock art heritage scattered over its vast lands. These are now being destroyed at an alarming rate due to human activities like mining, deforestation, urbanization and dam building. Nature also is taking its own toll in the destruction of these works of art. There is a continuous risk of deterioration and destruction by natural agencies. The rate of destruction is very fast, so much so that there is a lurking danger of this art being lost forever.
 
It was with the purpose of  preparing and preserving for posterity a systematic documentation  of this fast disappearing art that the Indian Rock Art Research Centre (IRARC) was established in 2005. IRARC is primarily engaged in documenting the rock art so that in the tragic event of the shelters being destroyed, at least the documents will be available to tell the tale
 
So far, IRARC has documented 404 rock art panels in Rajasthan and 37 rock art panels in Gujarat capturing over 8000 illustrations. Under a collaborative project with Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai for understanding the archaeo-astronomical practices in the megalithic period, the IRARC carried out a systematic survey and documentation of more than 150 cup-marked boulders of Megalithic period in Vidarbha in Maharashtra
 
Apart from photographic documentation of the rock art, the site surroundings are surveyed and a detailed note on the geology, flora and fauna with the archaeology of the area is prepared During field work, the team records contemporary rural and tribal art, folklores and folk culture that are fast disappearing with the tribal society being absorbed in the mainstream due to rapid urbanization and industrialization. This might aid in understanding the past societies since roots of our contemporary society are deeply embedded in our prehistoric past as well as in our tribal culture. By studying the contemporary tribal arts, one can understand the motive behind the art and various techniques of artistic exemplification. Folklore is laden with enormous amount of data which can inform us about the undocumented past societies and their culture. Hence recording of folklore in the major rock art areas is also carried out

A large collection of photographs thus taken capturing the rock art, folk art, megalithic monuments, memorial stones, archaeological sites and monuments are in the process of being digitised.
 
They would offer invaluable material to the students, scholars and researchers once the digitization is completed and put online
 
IRARC also undertakes explorations and excavations of archaeological sites. In 2007 it carried out excavations at the Acheulian site of Astoli nala in Bundi district of Rajasthan in collaboration with Deccan College, Pune
 
In course of explorations and expeditions, IRARC has collected a good number of artifacts like stone tools and implements, pottery, terracotta objects and fossils of the bye gone eras. These have been properly classified and stored for study purpose

IRARC also conducts practical training courses on prehistoric tool technology, ceramics, and excavation techniques

Looking at the Future

IRARC aims to build a comprehensive online database on rock art, archaeological objects, monuments and sites which would be accessible to all those working in this field, to carry out collaborative and multi disciplinary archeological and rock art projects for the better understanding of India’s prehistoric and historical cultures, to conduct innovative and practical training programmes on different aspects of archaeology, not usually available in university teachings, for the students.
   
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