“The pressures of urbanisation and population growth are threatening the country’s historic monuments and pre-historic rock art sites. Unless we act quickly to improve the manner in which we look after these treasures, irreparable damage could be caused,” said Vice-President Hamid Ansari, while inaugurating the International Conference on Rock Art-2012 at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts here on Thursday.

Describing rock art as humankind’s precious cultural heritage, Mr. Ansari said it depicts the earliest recorded expressions of our species. “It is also a valuable repository of our artistic, cognitive and cultural beginnings since the earliest days. India is fortunate to possess one of the three largest concentrations of this world heritage, the other two being Australia and South Africa, where rock art is still a living pursuit.”

Noting that a significant part of our rock art heritage still remains outside the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India and State Archaeology Departments, Mr. Ansari said: “I would urge the Ministry of Culture, the ASI, State Archaeology Departments and other allied departments like forests, geology and mining to ensure greater integration of effort for preservation and conservation of these sites.”

Organised by IGNCA in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, the conference is part of the 45-day-long international festival which seeks to popularise and protect the pre-historic rock art.

To give a live experience to visitors, a cave-like set up has been designed on the lines of Bhimbetka,an archaeological world heritage site located at Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. The exhibition has been separated into zones showing art forms of different continents. It also displays rock arts pieces related to the pre-historic era.

A workshop will be conducted in which scholars and artists from across the globe would demonstrate their techniques in constructing rock art. They would also present review and overall status of rock art studies in their respective continents through special lectures in the conference.

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