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

Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar
  • Site number: A-132
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4580 m to 4610 m
  • Administrative location (township): ZarangZa rang
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: July 18, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C2
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar towers 200 m above the village of RintiRi lti on the north side of the valley. It is likely to have flourished in the same general time period as the other kharmkhar of ZarangZa rang. Every village of ZarangZa rang (save for KaprakSkab rag) was once guarded by such strongholds. The siting, design and physical condition of the ruins indicate that Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar was an archaic cultural facility. The site occupies a strategic position directly above the village at the head of the RintiRi lti valley. The summit on which the stronghold was planted is readily defendable and difficult to outflank. This summit is 79 m in length (with an east-west axis). The amount of rubble strewn about indicates that significant structures were once found here, but their size and configuration cannot be ascertained. Only fragments of highly eroded revetments have endured (up to 1.5 m in height). Small vestiges of revetments that lined the southern rim of the summit are intact. These are probably the remains of a once formidable circumvallation. Very little of the defensive walls that encircled the stronghold are detectable on the north side of the summit.

Structures of Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar were primarily constructed of blue limestone and to a lesser degree of brown sandstone. The revetments have a random-rubble texture. No mortar was detected in the seams. Blocks used in construction (some may have been hewn into shape) are mostly 10 cm to 50 cm in length. About half the arable landholdings of Rinti GangRi lti sgang (current population: 38) are being worked. More intensive economic activity and a larger population were probably associated with the construction and residency of Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar.

Oral tradition

The villagers of RintiRi lti consider Rinti GangkharRi lti sgang mkhar an ancient stronghold.

Site elements

West sector

The west sector is 35 m in length. It terminates in an almost vertical rise of 10 m along the ridgeline. The western extremity of the summit is the lowest and widest (15 m) part of the site. There is a small partially intact revetment in the middle of the rubble of the west sector.

East sector

Vertical rock faces surround the east sector of the summit. The west side of the east sector summit is 4 m to 5 m in width. The ridgeline widens in the east to 10.5 m and then narrows to 4.5 m on its east end (the highest point of the summit). There are four or five revetment segments that run perpendicular to the axis of the summit. These are situated at different elevations and likely formed the base of a stepped line of buildings. Below the west half of the east sector, small wall fragments extend along the 45° slope for a distance of 23 m from the summit. It would appear that buildings once stood on this slope as well.


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.