Watch the Paint Dry in Cold – Oldest Indian Cave Paintings Being Restored at Arctic World Archive

Oldest Indian Cave Being Restored at Arctic World Archive

Arctic World Archive, an apocalyptic vault located at the safest place on the earth, is preserving digitally restored photographs of two paintings, one from Ajanta and one from Badami caves (Karnataka) dating back to the 6th century.

The oldest known painting depicting Bodhisattva King Mahajanaka from the Ajanta caves (Maharashtra), another another titled Queen and Attendants from the Badami caves (Karnataka), Photographed and digitally restored by art historian Benoy Behl are to be preserved at the repository of the Arctic World Archive (AWA). Restored and digitised, the paintings on special films have been deposited to the repository by Mumbai-based Sapio Analytics.

Designed to endure the natural and man-made disasters, the Arctic World Archive is located in Svalbard, an archipelago in Spitsbergen, Norway. Established deep inside the Arctic mountain, it is a declared demilitarised zone by 42 nations hence one of the safest locations on the earth.

This apocalyptic vault was inaugurated in March 2017 with the intention of preserving the world’s most treasured assets by a data storage company in Norway called Piql. With over 15 contributing nations; manuscripts from the Vatican Library, political histories, masterpieces from different eras, the vault now contains 21 terabytes of open source code. The remote and cool, dry permafrost conditions found on Svalbard are considered as favourable to relics.

Spiritual text, the Bhagavad Gita was the first deposit from India to AWA, then Sapio Analytics in 2020 deposited the high resolution image from the Ajanta Cave in India.

According to historian and photographer Binoy Bhel, “titled Queen and Attendants, the Badami photograph depicts a regal figure being waited upon by attendants. The original has suffered so much wear and tear, over its 1,500 years on the stone wall, that there are still brown patches in the digital restoration”.

Digitally restored photograph section of the Badami paintings has been selected as the third Indian-origin deposit at the Arctic World Archive.

Though it is still in infancy, recent deposits reflect that art restoration is gaining traction in India, a doomsday vault in Svalbard, Norway, designed to preserve a record of some of humanity’s most treasured artefacts for a post-apocalyptic world.

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