Gabarni, the new rock art site discovered in Myanmar

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Elephant panel of rock art. The squatting human for a sense of scale and you can just barely see the outline of the top of the elephant.

Last week I was in Myanmar at the invitation of the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of Culture to take a look at the new rock art site that was discovered last month (see here).

Gabardi Rock Art Site, Shan State, Myanmar

Gabardi Rock Art Site, Shan State, Myanmar

The Gabarni Rock Art Site, named after a nearby village, is also known as Myakhanauk. Most cases of rock art begin with their ‘discovery’ by local villagers, in this case Mr Win Bo, who found the site of behalf of amateur archaeologist Mr Soe Naing. This discovery was announced last month, but it seems like local villagers have known about the site for some years now.

U Win Bo, the local villager who along with U Soe Naing brought our attention to the site

U Win Bo, the local villager who along with U Soe Naing brought our attention to the site

The site is in western Shan State, relatively near the Padalin Caves which is pretty famous within Myanmar for its prehistoric rock art. They are however about 11km apart – a day’s travel distance. The Gabarni site is made up of a cluster of sandstone outcrops near the Pae Dwe Mountain.

Drone view over the Gabarni rock art site.

Drone view over the Gabarni rock art site.

The largest sandstone shelter is a really good habitation area, comfortably accommodating 20 people and the entire complex might house around 50 people. Habitation may have occurred up to recent times, as this largest shelter contains graffiti, some with dates from the 1970s and 1990s. There is some rock art in the ceiling of the shelter, but because of campfires a lot of soot has obscured the paintings.

View from inside the largest shelter. There is rock art on the ceiling, but mostly obscured by soot.

View from inside the largest shelter. There is rock art on the ceiling, but mostly obscured by soot.

The most prominent rock art is on another shelter that has a large flat wall from which to paint on. Here there is a painting of an elephant, which is barely visible now except for the top outline. You can see from the human scale that the elephant was pretty much life-sized.

Elephant panel of rock art. The squatting human for a sense of scale and you can just barely see the outline of the top of the elephant.

Elephant panel of rock art. The squatting human for a sense of scale and you can just barely see the outline of the top of the elephant.

The Department of Archaeology intends to properly document and investigate the site later this year, so I’ll refrain from saying much more about the rock art other than they seem to be very old, and they don’t appear to be similar to the Padalin Cave paintings despite the proximity. If you are going to the EurASEAA conference in Paris, I will be making a more detailed presentation of the site on behalf of the Ministry, so catch it if you’re there!

The visiting team group photo from last week, with U Win Bo and U Soe Naing in the middle.

The visiting team group photo from last week, with U Win Bo and U Soe Naing in the middle.

New rock art site discovered in Myanmar

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This is a bit of exciting news, for me personally – the discovery of a new rock art site in Myanmar. The articles imply that it the new site, named Mya Kha Nauk, is the second rock art site to be found after the Padalin Caves (which is in the same area), but there really are two or three other known sites that have been discovered in the last few decades, but reports of them are less-known.

Mya Kha Nauk rock art. Source: The Irrawady 20150529

Mya Kha Nauk rock art. Source: The Irrawady 20150529

Prehistoric Paintings Identified in Central Burma
The Irrawady, 29 May 2015

Stone Age paintings and tools uncovered in Shan State
Myanmar times, 03 June 2015

A rock formation etched with prehistoric drawings and what is believed to have been an animist worship altar has been identified deep in the forests of Pae Dwe mountain, located between Ywa Ngan Township in Shan State and Wun Dwin Township of neighboring Mandalay Division.

The prehistoric art is the first finding of its kind in more than a half century, with the last known discovery inside central Burma’s Padah-Lin caves.

Amateur adventurer Win Bo stumbled upon the images on Saturday at an area known locally as Mya Kha Nauk, about eight miles southwest of the famous Padah-Lin caves

A group led by veteran historian Win Maung (Tampawaddy), amateur archaeologists, historians from Mandalay, researchers and Aung Aung Kyaw, the deputy director of the Ministry of Culture’s research department, reached the rock shelter on Wednesday and carried out preliminary research at the site.

Full story here and here.