Cupules- The oldest known style of Rock Art found all around the globe.

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Cupules are the cup-like structures on rocks found all around the globe. They are considered to be the most common and oldest known style of rock art. They have been dated back to the Palaeolithic period and were also created during the Mesolithic and Neolithic age.

The term Cupule was introduced by the famous archaeologist Robert G. Bednarik. They are also called pits, hollows, cups, cupels, cup stones, pit marks, cup marks – even pot-holes in the different regions of the world.

According to Bednarik, the purpose of cupules is not known. There are speculations based on the researches conducted by the archaeologists about them.

They are found to be different from natural cupules, rock depressions and grinding cupules thus they are believed to serve non-utilitarian functions and can have some symbolic significance in past. Cupules are petroglyphs that are predicted to be created by human hands by the technique of percussion. These criteria can be established by eliminating all available natural explanations.[1]




The oldest cupules discovered are in India and dates between 290,000 and 700,000 BCE. Most of them are approximately 1.7 million BCE old. In Australia, for instance, the oldest Kimberley Rock Art and Burrup Peninsula Rock Art features various types and patterns of cupules.

Many cupules, including the oldest specimens at Bhimbetka and Daraki-Chattan, occur on very hard, erosion-resistant rock types, such as quartzite, gneissic granite and even crystalline quartz. Most of the them are ranging between 1mm to 100mm or more.

There are hundreds of cupules together on the same rock. more than 500 are on Daraki-chattan. Indian archaeologist G Kumar replicated 5 of them found at Daraki-Chattan, India and achieved the depth with thousands of blows.

Cupule 1 1.9 mm 8,490 blows
Cupule 2 4.4 mm 8,400 blows
Cupule 3 2.55 mm 6,916 strikes
Cupule 4 0.05 mm 1,817 strikes
Cupule 5 6.7 mm 21,730 blows

As you can note that creating a single hole required the enormous amount of energy. It is hard to believe that this technique was used by early humans. However, in the upcoming blogs, we will look at how the art evolved and shaped our cultures since the prehistoric period.

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