Randall Law

Preliminary geologic assessments of rock-cut temples and cut-stone monuments in South India

After a decade spent in Pakistan and northwest India doing intensive research into the rock and mineral trade networks through which Bronze Age Harappans acquired raw materials for small portable items like beads, Randall Law has embarked on a new study of stone at Historic Period rockcut caves and cut-stone temples in South India. This research is part of a larger NEH-funded project directed by art historian Vidya Dehejia and sculptor Peter Rockwell that is examining the unfinished aspects of these
monuments. As a supplement to this project, Law’s task was to characterize the rock types into which and/or from which the monuments were created, to assess material quality from place to place and, where needed, to identify stone sources. Thirty locations (archaeological sites and stone quarries) within the southern Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil
Nadu were visited and sampled in January 2010. The analysis of these materials is only partially complete. In this presentation, Law will provide an overview of the geology of the study area and main types of stone examined in it, briefly discuss the evaluation and sampling of rocks from monuments and quarries, and give a site-wide summary of the observations and analytical results generated to date.