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.2. Residential Structures in Other Locations: Religious and Elite Residences

Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa

Basic site data

  • Site name: Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa
  • English equivalent: Small Rock Shelter Cave
  • Site number: B-122
  • Site typology: I.2c
  • Elevation: 5090 m
  • Administrative location (township): Götsang MéRgod tshang smad
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: TUE
  • Survey date: September 16, 2005
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The large cave of Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa is situated in a limestone range that bounds the north side of a large plain. The cave towers some 550 m above this plain and occupies a highly isolated and defensible location. This capacious cave has two entrances separated by a distance of 46 m: northwest mouth (26 m wide) and south mouth (16 m wide).

Oral tradition

According to residents of Götsang MéRgod tshang smad, Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa was an ancient stronghold from which battles were fought.

Site elements

A steep slope leads up to the northwest mouth of Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa, which was once barricaded by a massive wall. A 17 m length of this random-rubble dry-stone wall is still partly intact. This 2 m-thick structure was constructed from uncut, variable length (up to 80 cm long) limestone blocks. Its maximum standing height is 1.8 m on the exterior and 2.5 m on the interior. This structure is likely to have had defensive value. The south mouth (overlooks the plain) was also hemmed in by a huge wall, which has been reduced to a pile of rubble reaching 3 m in height. Below the south mouth there are unassailable cliffs. The floor of the cave is uneven and covered in limestone outcrops and rubble. The ceiling is 5 m to 8 m in height and even higher in some places. There is a distance of more than 60 m from the northwest mouth to the innermost recesses of the cave. The eastern portion of the cave descends at least 15 m to a little standing water. Although now fouled, this spring is likely to have once supplied water for the inhabitants of Gyamchung PukpaGyam chung phug pa. Just above the standing water there is a huge pile of ash, which now resembles fine, dark soil. There are bone fragments among this ash, a sign of significant human occupation. The ash midden follows the line of the slope, covering an area of around 100 m².


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.