Stories from Silent Stones: on the Shape of Wedge Marks as a Diagnostic of Stone‐Craft of Different Periods

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology , Volume 6, p.438‐486 (2018)



Ancient Quarries, Badami, Early Chalukya, Hampi, Malaprabha Valley, Vijayanagara, Wedge Marks


The Malaprabha Valley in north Karnataka, with the well‐known sites of Badami, Aihole,Pattadakal etc. are regarded as some of the earliest sites of temple architecture in stone in southern India.At the sites of the temples itself, as well as the quarries from which the stone for the temples were sourced,wedge marks created by the Early Medieval stonecutters can be noticed. These wedge marks, created by hammering in steel wedges to split the stone, are noticeably different from the wedge marks of the Late Medieval stonecutters of the Vijayanagara Empire at Hampi and surrounding areas. In this paper, we develop a method to characterize the shape of wedge marks, and suggest that it can be used to differentiate between monuments created by successive dynasties in regions which have architectural interventions of different periods. We demonstrate this in the case of Badami, by attempting to differentiate parts of the fort wall constructed by the Early Chalukyas from the interventions of Vijayanagara artisans, on the basis of the shape of wedge marks on split stones which form part of the wall.