Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ellorâ Caves located in the western part of India, were built between the 6th and 11th centuries AD. In addition to these rock cavities, which house protected cave paintings, the site also consists of a set of 34 temples carved in stone.
In a recently published study, scientists from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), the Indian agency in charge of preserving the country’s archaeological heritage, claim that a raw material, made from a mixture of hemp leaves , clay, plaster and lime, used in the construction of the site, played an essential role in the preservation of the site.
The researchers succeeded in isolating samples of hemp contained in this alloy using a scanning electron microscope.
UNIQUE CONSERVATION PROPERTIES.
The report states that the analysis of “Hemp residues from the sample of the mixture of clay and plaster taken at Ellorâ, suggest that they were used because of their fixing and insulating properties. European studies have estimated the lifespan of a hemp brick wall to be six to eight centuries. Those of Ellorâ have been preserved for more than 1500 years. This longevity is explained by the particular properties of hemp, which is fibrous and perennial. ”
All the contrarye from the adjoining Ajanta caves (India), also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The study shows that on this site, where hemp was not used, 25% of the paintings there were damaged due to the activity of crawling insects.