Ancient Indian Cave Paintings to be Preserved at Arctic World Archive

Two ancient Indian cave paintings, representative of their times, one from Ajanta and one from Badami, have made it to the Arctic World Archive. The works date back to fifth and sixth centuries.
Ajanta Caves are located near Aurangabad in Maharashtra
Ajanta Caves are located near Aurangabad in Maharashtra

After the famous fifth century painting depicting Bodhisattva King Mahajanaka from the Ajanta caves (Maharashtra), another famous Indian painting dating back to the sixth century and titled Queen and Attendants from the Badami caves (Karnataka) is now being preserved at the safe repository of the Arctic World Archive (AWA). Restored and digitised, the paintings on special films have been deposited to the repository by Mumbai-based Sapio Analytics.

The photographs are from the collection of photographer, film-maker and art historian Benoy Ke Behl. Among other things, Behl&rsquos expertise lies in photographing the Indian cave paintings in existing low light conditions within the caves, without using any flash or any other lighting equipment.

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The Arctic World Archive is located in Svalbard, an archipelago in Norway.

The remote and cool, dry permafrost conditions found on Svalbard are believed to make it the safest location on earth where, with the help of latest and resilient storage technology, an archive is being developed, which is expected to last centuries. Set deep inside the Arctic mountain, it is a declared demilitarised zone by 42 nations.

Started in 2017, AWA, according to the website, holds an impressive collection of valuable digital artefacts and irreplaceable information from around the world, with over 15 contributing nations manuscripts from the Vatican Library, political histories, masterpieces from different eras (including Rembrandt and Munch), scientific breakthroughs and contemporary cultural treasures, etc.

The Arctic World Archive received India's spiritual text, the Bhagavad Gita as the first deposit from India.

The high resolution image from the Ajanta Cave in India deposited by Sapio Analytics in 2020 also happens to be the first deposit of a UNESCO World Heritage Site content in AWA according to media reports. In May, this year, they submitted the Badami Cave painting.

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