Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Antiquities of Zhang Zhung
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

I.1. Residential Structures Occupying Summits: Fortresses, breastworks, religious buildings, palaces, and related edifices

Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog

Basic site data

  • Site name: Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog
  • Site number: A-84
  • Site typology: I.1x, I.2b
  • Elevation: 4240 m to 4310 m
  • Administrative location (township): DerokSde rog
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 21, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: A couple of simple flagpoles on the summit of the site dedicated to the famous yüllhayul lha known as GekhöGe khod.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog is located in the mouth of a 1 km deep mountain cove, on the east side of the RusumRu gsum/RisumRi gsum/RoksumRog gsum valley. The ruined stronghold sits on an isolated rock outcrop, which is a maximum of 45 m in height. The south face of RutokRu thog’s most important yüllhayul lha, Gekhö NyenlungGe khod gnyan lung, is visible from the site. The light colored igneous outcrop has very steep slopes on all sides, endowing it with a fairly strong protective quality. The entire summit (60 m by 3 m to 5 m) is cloaked in the remains of small mud-mortared random-rubble buildings. The stepped walls and series of revetments in the granite crags, creating many structural elevations, along with the tiny size of the edifices, are archaic design traits. Likewise, the semi-subterranean aspect of some structures points to an archaic cultural origin.

In addition to the fasthold, there appears to have been an extensive sedentary settlement built around the base of the outcrop. These lower ruins all fall within the protective umbrella of arrow fire that could have been released from the fortress. Hundreds of people potentially once lived in the old village Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog. Agriculture was not practiced at this location, as it is extremely rocky. There is no contemporary permanent settlement in the vicinity. Like many other ancient habitations in RutokRu thog, Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog was never the object of resettlement in more recent times. The lower site consists of around 50 heavily built foundations of residential structures. From the little that is left, it could not be determined if these shelters had permanent roofs or ones made of perishable materials such as yak hide or hair. These residential structures are dispersed over an area of approximately 3000 m². The orange climax lichen found on many of the stones shows that the site has not been heavily disturbed in a long time.

Oral tradition

Residents of the RusumRu gsum valley call Posa KhargokSpo sa mkhar gog a Kel MönSkal mon castle.

Site elements


There are many revetments, footings and standing wall fragments on the summit. The very narrow nature of the summit helped to limit the dimensions of the individual structures. The tallest revetment built against the formation is 2 m; these walls unmistakably had a defense function. They must have been the bases of ramparts, which surrounded the summit in an intricate pattern of short walls interspersed between the natural crags. The walls of the old buildings are around 60 cm thick and are made with variable sized stones, 20 cm to 60 cm in length. Mostly granite was used in construction but gray stone and occasional chunks of milky quartz were also exploited. On the south side of the summit there is a revetment fragment 1 m thick. One of the most intact and largest buildings (3 m by 3.3 m) is found near the north side of the summit. Its walls reach 2.5 m in height and, like other structures at the site, much of the mud-mortar in the walls has washed away. On the less steep and rocky east or inner side of the formation, buildings may have extended in a band 20 m in height from the edge of the summit to the base of the outcrop. This east flank dispersion is 30 m in width and is thickly blanketed in rubble.

Ancient village

Evidently, there was a well-built settlement comprised of a tight cluster of houses, situated on broad, moderately inclined rocky slopes. The existence of so many stones on or near the site provided a ready source of building materials. Wall fragments reach 1.5 m in height, but, in general, the level of preservation of the structures is very poor. The habitations range in size from 15 m² to 45 m², and were built as much as 1.2 m below the ground.

Northeast sector

The northeast sector is located at the base of the inner side/east of the fortress outcrop. It consists of a contiguous zone of at least two dozen small but heavily built foundations, covering an area of 53 m (east-west) by 46 m (north-south). On the north end of the northeast sector there are old enclosures resembling corrals. Wall segments commonly attain 1 m in height. The foundations often integrate naturally occurring boulders, some of which are more than 1 m in length. The robustly constructed walls tend to be built of larger stones (40 cm to 70 cm), and are 70 cm to 90 cm thick. Outside of the northwest sector, there are several other foundations on the edge of the outcrop, extending to its southeast side.

Southeast sector

Located 21 m to the southeast of the northeast sector, the smaller but more steeply inclined southeast sector measures 22 m by 22 m. The space between the northwest and southeast sectors is devoid of any major constructions. The rear or up-slope walls of the at least one dozen buildings established here are commonly built 1.2 m into the ground. The individual foundations range in size between 7 m² and 42 m². The smaller foundations might represent supplemental rooms or outbuildings of some kind.

South sector

On the south side of the formation, at lower elevation, there are three separate buildings or a single building divided into three wings, covering an area of 18 m by 6 m. This structure was built at three different levels in line with the slope gradient. In close proximity there are at least three smaller foundations. Lower down there is a carcass (6 m by 7 m), its walls set deeply into the rear slope. Adjacent to it are several smaller building footprints. Two interconnected foundations (11 m by 15 m), as well as the footings of a single building (7.8 m by 6 m), are found at the lower end of the south sector.


Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland. Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.