Tibet Archaeology

and all things Tibetan

About the Author


John Vincent Bellezza is an archaeologist and cultural historian specializing in the pre-Buddhist heritage of Tibet and the Western Himalaya. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Tibet Center, University of Virginia, and has lived in high Asia for three decades. Since 1994, Bellezza has comprehensively surveyed ancient monuments and rock art on the uppermost reaches of the Tibetan plateau. He has also extensively studied archaic rituals, myths and narratives in Bon and Old Tibetan literature. In addition to nine books, Bellezza has written numerous academic and popular articles on topics pertaining to early Tibet. He is the first non-Tibetan to have explored both the geographic and ritual sources of each of the four great rivers that emerge from the Mount Kailas region. He also visited most major islands and headlands in the great lakes of Upper Tibet. Bellezza has also traveled widely on foot in the Western Himalayan regions of India and Pakistan.



Since childhood, my imagination has been captivated by the peoples and landscape of Tibet and the Himalaya. I finally arrived in this region of the world at age twenty-five and commenced my research and explorations, to which I have now devoted more than two decades. In the first few years, I traveled extensively on foot in the Great Western Himalaya and Tibet, spending long periods of time away from modern frames of reference. During fieldtrips, I would ask many questions about local history and culture and take copious notes. I wintered in Dharamsala, applying myself to full time academic reading at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, trying to make better sense of all the things I had heard and seen. In my first decade in the high Himalaya, I acquired the requisite foreign language skills and proficiency in the methods of western scholarship to produce credible work. This enabled me to begin a noteworthy course of research, which I pursue to the present day.

The cultural history of pre-Buddhist Upper Tibet has emerged as my area of expertise. The pre-Buddhist period in Tibet is for all intents and purposes, synonymous with the Iron Age (certain elements of this anachronistic cultural and technological system persisted in Tibet through the first half of the First Millennium A.D.). Upper Tibet is the vast upland of northwestern Tibet, a region of interminable plains crisscrossed by lofty mountain ranges. I chose to specialize in an assessment of the paleoculture and archaeology of Upper Tibet because very little was known about these fields. Large swathes of the region had remained unexplored and Chinese archaeological inquiry in general was extremely minimal, furnishing considerable scope for making worthwhile scholarly contributions. From 1993 until 2000, I worked ten months a year on this research project and from 2000, I have devoted myself to it fulltime. In 2002, in lieu of my academic work, I was conferred a visiting scholar position at the University of Virginia. I also began my academic association with Oxford University in 2002.

My work and accomplishments

To date, I have conducted formal interviews with many hundreds of residents in Upper Tibet. These have focused on various aspects of indigenous culture including but not limited to clan mythology and history, sacred geographic traditions, spirit-mediumship, and lore concerning the flora and fauna of the region. I am particularly interested in still practiced customs and beliefs that have correspondences to the Bon religion, as recorded in Tibetan literature. In order to contextualize my findings within a cultural historical framework, I have carried out an extremely rigorous survey of Tibetan texts, a bastion of my methodological and theoretical approach of placing ethnographic materials in a wider literary and historical framework. At the same time, I have comprehensively surveyed pre-Buddhist archaeological sites in virtually all areas of Upper Tibet. This aspect of my project entailed traveling more than 70,000 miles by motor vehicle, horseback and on foot. My surveying work has brought to light nearly 700 ancient sites, ushering in a new field of study in archaeology. Over the years, I have unremittingly charted the nature and extent of the Iron Age monuments and rock art in Upper Tibet, leading to the discovery of heretofore unknown types of mountain strongholds, semi-subterranean temples, burial grounds, and necropoli featuring large arrays of standing stones. The ethnohistorical implications of my findings for the development of Eurasian civilization in the Iron Age loom large, and promise to spur a new generation of intensive interdisciplinary scrutiny.

The fruits of my research are recorded in eight scholarly books, the first of which is entitled Divine Dyads: Ancient Civilization in Tibet (1997). This work looks at the mythic and religious make-up of two great mountain and lake pairs in Upper Tibet, furnishing a template upon which the interplay of indigenous and Buddhist traditions can be viewed. This work has been used in graduate level studies at academic institutions such as the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. My second and third books (Antiquities of Northern Tibet and Antiquities of Upper Tibet) initiate the long process of registering the physical and geographic traits of the archaeological sites, analyzing their ceremonial and utilitarian functions, and determining cross-cultural affinities. My aim has been not only to bring new data to the fore but to present it in academic formats. In recognition of the intrinsic value of my discoveries and the level of scholarship I have achieved, my fourth book, Calling Down the Gods, was recently published as part of Brill’s prestigious Tibet Studies Library. This work explicates the history, ritual practices and pantheon of deities of the lha-pa (spirit-mediums) of Upper Tibet, an almost extinct class of religious functionaries involved in community well being and prognostication.

In addition to four books, I have written numerous technical and popular articles. My papers have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals including East and West (Rome), The Tibet Journal (Dharamsala), Rock Art Research (Melbourne), and Kailash (Kathmandu). My first archeological paper, A Preliminary Archaeological Survey of gNam mtsho and Dang ra g.yu mtsho (1996), was recently selected for inclusion in a three volume academic collection entitled The History of Tibet (Routledge Curzon). Another archaeological article of mine, Bringing to Light the Forgotten, has been translated into Chinese and published by the International Conference on Tibetan Archaeology and Art, Beijing, 2003.

Over the last twelve years, I have completed a comprehensive survey of pre-Buddhist archaeological sites in Upper Tibet, a project that entailed several years of grueling fieldwork. I have now turned by attention to writing up my findings, which will constitutea three volume treatise of more than 1200 pages. In addition to containing vital data on 400 archaeological sites, this set of tomes entitled Antiquities of High Tibet, will furnish extensive annotated translations of Tibetan texts that enshrine indigenous cultural materials. The Austrian Academy of Sciences has expressed strong interest in the publication of this work. I have already completed my translation and investigation of the archaic Tibetan funerary tradition from both Tun-huang and Bon literary sources. This comprises the first thorough study of the old eschatological traditions, certainly one of the most difficult areas in Tibetan philology.

My departure point was the fine work of Tibetologists such as Stein, Thomas and Lalou, who were among the first to carefully look at the funerary rituals preserved in the Tun-huang manuscripts (Tibet’s largest corpus of Imperial period literature). Thanks to the input of native scholars like Lopön Tenzin Namdak, I was able to make full translations of classical Bon funerary works, which served as an interpretive tool and grammatical index for the subsequent translation of Old Tibetan sources. In essence, I worked backwards in linguistic time, starting with textual resources that are written in a more familiar form of Tibetan before tackling those composed in the ancient language. The great French Tibetanist R. A. Stein suggested such an approach in his papers of the 1980’s, but this is the first time it has been realized on a significant scale. The many linguistic difficulties and the broad cultural background required to make sense of the death ritual texts, had previously dissuaded scholars from attempting such a study.

My inclusive study of the archaic funerary tradition throws up much textual material that is pertinent to the Imperial period (629-846 A.D.) culture and way of life in Tibet. Its significance therefore extends well beyond an elucidation of mortuary beliefs and practices to encompass prominent aspects of the religious and social structure of Tibetan dynastic times. As for my analytical method, I have taken the various funerary rituals and related them to my surface archaeological finds in Upper Tibet, a painstaking comparative exercise. I have also submitted the texts to an analysis based on a study of Inner Asian mortuary archaeology and the funerary traditions of contemporary peoples in contiguous regions. This cross-cultural perspective rooted in both the past and present, facilitates the placement of the Tibetan texts within the multiplex Inner Asian cultural world. In addition to funerary culture, Antiquities of High Tibet explores quasi-historical sources pertaining to the Upper Tibetan Iron Age kingdom of Zhang-zhung, relating them to the fabric of archaeological monuments and rock art I have discovered in the region. The work will inspect the costumes, tools and activities of the ancient Bonpo adepts and kings in order to assess the salient features of Zhang-zhung material culture. The data thus assembled should prove valuable as groundwork for the interpretation of archaeological finds once systematic excavation commences in Upper Tibet.


Curriculum Vitae

Work Address

c/o Professor David Germano
PO Box 400126
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA

Email: jbellezza@hotmail.com
Website: www.tibetarchaeology.com


Academic Overview

I am a research scholar and explorer conducting pioneering work in Tibet, with a focus on the textual, archaeological, and ethnographic study of the pre-Buddhist era and its continuing legacy in the historical and contemporary milieux. I have led many research expeditions to isolated parts of the Himalaya and Tibet, which have resulted in the publication of landmark books with major academic presses.


Educational and Research Overview

1980–2017:  Autodidactic studies in the humanities and sciences
1984–2015:  Member, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala

Thirty years of intensive exploration and research in Cultural Tibet and the Great Western Himalaya:
2015: Comprehensive rock art survey of Spiti
2010–2013: Comprehensive rock art surveys in Upper Tibet
2004–2013: Major translations of Old Tibetan language documents
2004–2011: In-depth ethnoarchaeological analysis of the Zhang Zhung and Sumpa paleocultures
2001–2010: First comprehensive inventory of pre-Buddhist monuments and rock art in Upper Tibet
2001–2005: First ethnohistorical survey of the spirit-mediums in Upper Tibet
1994–2001: Archaeological reconnaissance missions to Upper Tibet
1992–1999: Cultural historical surveys of Upper Tibet
1983–1993: Ethnographic and geographic researches in the Great Western Himalaya
1986–1991: Ethnographic and geographic researches in Tibet



Research Associate, Institute for the Science of Religion and Central Asian Studies, University of Bern, 2017–Present
Senior research fellow, Tibet Center, University of Virginia, 2002–present:
Fellow International, Explorers Club, 2003–present
Member, International Association of Tibetan Studies, 2003–present
Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 2007–present
Fellow, Shang Shung Culture Development Association, 2011–present
Visiting Scholar, Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, 2002–2004
Member, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1996–2011


Major Research Expeditions

Conceived and carried out numerous pioneering scientific and ethnographic expeditions of extended length. Highlights include:

2015: Spiti Antiquities Expedition
2013, 2012: Upper Tibet Rock Art Expedition III
2011: Upper Tibet Rock Art Expedition II
2010: Upper Tibet Rock Art Expedition I
2009: Sri Ashtapad Maha Tirth III (Partner: Jain Center of America)
2007: Wild Yak Lands Expedition (Partner: Ngari Xiangxiong Cultural Exchange Association)
2006: Tibet Highland Expedition (Partner: Ngari Xiangxiong Cultural Exchange Association)
2006: Tibet Ice Lakes Expedition
2005: Tibet Upland Expedition (Partner: Ngari Xiangxiong Cultural Exchange Association)
2004: High Tibet Welfare Expedition (Partner: Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences and Ngari Prefecture Government)
2003: High Tibet Antiquities Expedition (Partner: Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences and Ngari Prefecture Government)
2002: High Tibet Circle Expedition (Partner: Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences and Ngari Prefecture Government)
2001: Upper Tibet Antiquities Expedition (Partner: Ngari Prefecture Government)
2000: Upper Tibet Circumnavigation Expedition
1999: Changthang Circuit Expedition
1998, 1997: Byang-thang Cultural History Phase II Expeditions
1996, 1994, 1992: Cultural Surveys of Kinnaur
1995, 1994: Divine Dyads Expeditions
1989–1994: Himachal Pradesh Ethnographic Surveys
1983–1994: Great Western Himalayan Traverse
1993, 1991: Cultural Geography of Upper Tsangpo Expeditions
1992, 1987: Four Fountains of Tibet Expeditions
1990–1983: Hindu Kush Ethnographic Surveys



English (native speaker), Tibetan (archaic, classical and spoken), Hindi (spoken), Urdu (spoken), Western Pahari (spoken), Nepali (spoken), Spanish (spoken)


Employment History

1990–2014: Independent translation work
2008–2011: Project director, “Upper Tibetan Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Sites”, Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library,
2002–2005: Member, Bon Translation Project, Oxford University
1997–2003: Tibetanist research scholar, Istituto Shangshung
1985–2000: Professional mountain, pilgrimage and cultural tour leader with various companies including Mountain Travel USA and Sherpa Expeditions


Grants and Fellowships

2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002: Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation (New York City)
2016, 2013, 2006: Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal)
2015, 2014, 2007, 2004, 2003, 2002: Asian Cultural Council (New York City)
2013, 2012, 2011, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1997: Private Office of the Dalai Lama; Dalai Lama Trust (Dharamsala, India)
2012, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 1999: Tibetan Medical Foundation (Weslaco, TX)
2007: American Council of Learned Societies/Henry Luce Foundation (New York City)
2006: Expeditions Council, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC)
2006: Unicorn Foundation (Atlanta, GA)
2005: Kalpa Group (Oxford, UK)
2004: Trust for Mutual Understanding (New York City)
2003: Bon Translation Project (Oxford University)
2003: National Endowment for the Humanities Rubin Museum of Art shared grant (New York City)
2000: Philadelphia Theravadin Meditation Center (Philadelphia, PA)
2001, 1998: Spalding Trust (Stowmarket, UK)
1998, 1997: Shang Shung Institute (Merigar, Italy)
Supplementary: Technical work for the creation of the Antiquities of Zhang Zhung website (thlib.org/bellezza) was supported by the Luce Foundation and US Department of Education TICFIA Program


Community Volunteer Service

1984–1993: Cultural ecology consultations, Himachal Pradesh State Government, India
1984–1990: Cultural ecology consultations, Northern Areas Council, Pakistan


Invited Lectures & Presentations

The delivery of numerous discourses held in universities, monasteries and civic centers, including:

2017 (April): Berkeley University, Berkeley
2017 (February–June): “The Changing Face of bon/Bon in Tibet through the Ages”, Bern University, Bern
2015 (September): International Conference on the Study of Zhang Zhung, Beijing
2015 (June): Himachal State Museum, Shimla
2013 (November): Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath
2013 (February): Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History
2011 (July) and 2010 (September): SIT Study Abroad, Kathmandu
2006–2011: Emory University, students abroad program, Dharamsala
2008 (February): Columbia University, New York City
2008 (January): Humboldt State University, Arcata
2004 (December): Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg
2004 (January): University of Virginia, Charlottesville
2003 (December): Oxford University, Oriental Institute, Oxford


Media Participation

2007 (July–September): Discovery, TV documentary, Mysteries of Guge: Tibet’s Lost Kingdom, Bang Productions
2006 (June): Canadian Broadcasting Company, TV documentary on Tibetan shamans, AllinOneFilms
2005 (February 9): National Public Radio, Radio Expeditions, “Exploring Tibet’s Lost Civilization”
2004 (January 22): KSFR (90.7 FM), Santa Fe Radio Cafe
2003 (February 17): Washington Post, “Clues to Legendary Tibetan Culture Emerge”, by Guy Gugliotta 2003 (January 3): KSFR (90.7 FM), The Journey Home
2002 (January 23): WNYC (93.9 FM), The Leonard Lopate Show


Other Distinctions

Selected as one of the 120 greatest contemporary explorers, Adventurous Dreams, Adventurous Lives, by Jason Schoonover


Books (Monographs)

2014. Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Sites on the Tibetan Upland, Residential Monuments, vol. 1. Miscellaneous Series – 28. Sarnath: Central University of Tibetan Studies. Online version, 2011: Tibetan & Himalayan Library (THlib.org). http://www.thlib.org/bellezza

2014. Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Sites on the Tibetan Upland, Ceremonial Monuments, vol. 2. Miscellaneous Series – 29. Sarnath: Central University of Tibetan Studies. Online version, 2011: Tibetan & Himalayan Library (THlib.org): http://www.thlib.org/bellezza

2014. The Dawn of Tibet: The Ancient Civilization on the Roof of the World. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

2013. Death and Beyond in Ancient Tibet: Archaic Concepts and Practices in a Thousand-Year-Old Illuminated Funerary Manuscript and Old Tibetan Funerary Documents of Gathang Bumpa and Dunhuang. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse Denkschriften, vol. 454. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

2008. Zhang Zhung: Foundations of Civilization in Tibet. A Historical and Ethnoarchaeological Study of the Monuments, Rock Art, Texts and Oral Tradition of the Ancient Tibetan Upland. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse Denkschriften, vol. 368. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

2005. Calling Down the Gods: Spirit-Mediums, Sacred Mountains and Related Bon Textual Traditions in Upper Tibet, Tibetan Studies Library, vol. 8. Leiden: Brill.

2002. Antiquities of Upper Tibet: Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Sites on the High Plateau. (Findings of the Upper Tibet Circumnavigation Expedition, 2000). Delhi: Adroit.

2001. Antiquities of Northern Tibet: Archaeological Discoveries on the High Plateau. (Findings of the Changthang Circuit Expedition, 1999). Delhi: Adroit.

1997. Divine Dyads: Ancient Civilization in Tibet. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.



Forthcoming: “A Depiction of the Tibetan Mind: A Portrait of the Ancient Bon Master Tapihritsa”, in Mandalas: Mirrors of the Cosmos, a catalogue from the mandala exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland, October, 2014.

Forthcoming: “Facsimiles of the Earliest Ritual Architecture in Tibet: A Comprehensive Survey of Stepped Shrines in the Rock Art of Upper Tibet”, written for the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Conference XIV, Bergen, June 19–25.

In press: “Zenpar: Tibetan Wooden Molds for Creation of Dough Figures in Esoteric Rituals”, in Arts of Asia, Hong Kong.

In press: “The Swastika, Stepped Shrine, Priest, Horned Eagle, and Wild Yak Rider: Prominent antecedents of Bon figurative and symbolic traditions in the rock art of Upper Tibet”, in Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, no. 42, October 2017, pp. 5–38. Written for International Conference on Bon Studies hosted by the Shenten Dargye Ling Congregation, Blou, France, June 29–31, 2016.

In press: “The Rock Art of Spiti: A General Introduction”, for First International Conference on Spiti: Recovering the Past & Exploring the Present, Oxford University, May 6–7, 2016.

In press: “Discerning Bon and Zhang Zhung on the Western Tibetan Plateau: Designing an archaeological nomenclature for Upper Tibet, Ladakh and Spiti Based on a study of cognate rock art”, for International Conference of Shang Shung Cultural Studies Beijing, September 18–21, 2015.

2015. “On the Roof of the World: Discovering the Forgotten World of Zhang Zhung”, in Popular Archaeology.

2015. “The Ancient Corbelled Buildings of Upper Tibet: Architectural attributes, environmental factors and religious meaning in an unique type of archaeological monument”, in Journal of Comparative Cultural Studies in Architecture. “Architecture and Conservation: Tibet”, November 2015 (ed. Hubert Feigelsdorfer), pp. 4–19.

2014. “Straddling the Millennial Divide: A case study of persistence and change in the Tibetan ritual tradition based on the Gnag rabs of Gathang Bumpa and Eternal Bon documents, circa 900–1100 CE”, in Revue d’etudes tibétaines, vol. 29, pp. 155–243. Paris: CNRS.

2013. With Bruneau, L. “The Rock Art of Upper Tibet and Ladakh: Inner Asian cultural adaptation, regional differentiation and the ‘Western Tibetan Plateau Style’”, in Revue d’etudes tibétaines, vol. 28, pp. 5–161. Paris: CNRS.

2013. “Before the Mural and Scroll Painting: Rock Art in Ancient Tibet”, in Himalayan Art Resources.

2012. “Spirit-mediumship in Upper Tibet: The Vocation of one expert practitioner”, in Bulletin of Tibetology, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 7–32. Gangtok: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, 2011: in Exploring Tibet’s History and Culture. Proceedings of the International Conference held in New Delhi, 2009 (ed. P. Roy), pp. 379–410. Samyak Vak Series, vol. 17. Varanasi: Central University of Tibetan Studies.

2012. “Nangzher Lopo”, in The Treasury of Lives: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Himalayan Religion. Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation: New York.

2012. “Tongyung Thuchen”, in The Treasury of Lives: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Himalayan Religion. Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation: New York.

2012. “Xizang Tien Tie: Zi lei long yu hua pi li. Xue yu zhu shen you li min” (trans. Feng Shuai), in Tibet Geographic, no. 1, pp. 106–113. Lhasa.

2011. “The liturgies and oracular utterances of the spirit-mediums of Upper Tibet: An Introduction to their bSang Rituals”, in Revue d’etudes tibétaines, no. 20, pp. 5–31. Paris: CNRS.

2010. “gShen-rab Myi-bo: His life and times according to Tibet’s earliest literary sources”, in Revue d’etudes tibétaines, no. 19, pp. 31–118. Paris: CNRS.

2005. “A Cornerstone Report. Comprehensive Archaeological Surveys Conducted in Upper Tibet between 2001 and 2004. Documentation of archaic monuments and rock art in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Carried out under the auspices of the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences and Ngari Xiangxiong Cultural Exchange Association of the Tibet Autonomous Region.”, in Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library.
http://www.tinyurl.com/b2hnr (URL now defunct).

2004. “Metal and Stone Vestiges: Religion, Magic and Protection in the Art of Ancient Tibet”, in Asian Art Online Journal.

2004. “Pilgrim’s Way, Scientist’s Mind” (Chinese trans. Fu Jun), in Tibet Geographic, vol. 1, pp. 133–138. Lhasa.

2003. “Pre-Buddhist Data” in Environmental and Cultural Geography Collection, in Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library (work in progress).

2003. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Race to Document Upper Tibet’s Iron Age Heritage Before the Evidence is Carried Away”, in Lotus Leaves, vol. 6 (1), pp. 1–3. San Francisco.
2003. “Bringing to Light the Forgotten: Major Findings of a Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Sites in Upper Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region, Peoples Republic of China). Conducted Between 1992–2002”, in Athena Review, vol. 3 (4), pp. 16–26. Westport.

Chinese language version: Xunzhao Shiluo De Wenhua: “Xibu Xizang Qian Fujiao Shiyi Zhongyao Kaogu Yiji Diao Cha Baogau” (trans. Tang Huisheng and Tan Xiuhua) in Essays on the International Conference on Tibetan Archaeology and Art, pp. 1–29. Chengdu: Sichuan Remin Chuban She, 2004.
2002. “Gods, Hunting and Society: Animals in the Ancient Cave Paintings of Celestial Lake in Northern Tibet”, in East and West, vol. 52 (1–4), pp. 347–396. Rome: IsMEO.

2000. “Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Sites in Northern Tibet: An Introductory Report on the Types of Monuments and Related Literary and Oral Historical Sources”, in Kailash, vol. 19 (1–2), pp. 1–142. Kathmandu.

2000. “Bon Rock Paintings at gNam mtsho: Glimpses of the Ancient Religion of Northern Tibet”, in Rock Art Research, vol. 17 (1), pp. 35–55. Melbourne: AURA and IFRAO.

2000. “Images of Lost Civilization: The Ancient Rock Art of Upper Tibet”, in Asian Art Online Journal.

2000. “Elders of Tibet: Vital Link with a Vast Unwritten Tradition”, in The Mirror: Newspaper of the International Dzogchen Community, May/June, no. 4. Conway.

1999. “Archaeological Mysteries at Tibet’s Sacred Mountain Nyenchen Thanglha”, in Himal, vol. 12 (12), pp. 42, 43. Kathmandu.

1999. “High Country Culture”, in Discovering Archaeology, vol. 1 (3), pp. 78–83. El Paso.

1999. “A Preliminary Archaeological Survey of Da rog mtsho”, in The Tibet Journal, vol. 24 (1), pp. 56–90. Dharamsala: LTWA.

1999. “Northern Tibet Exploration: Archaeological Discoveries of the Changthang Circuit Expedition”, in Asian Art Online Journal.

1999. “The Ancient Amulets of Tibet”, in Asian Art Online Journal.

1998. “Thogchags: Talismans of Tibet”, in Arts of Asia, vol. 28 (3), pp. 44–64. Hong Kong.

1998. “New Archaeological Discoveries in Tibet”, in Asian Art Online Journal.

1997. “Notes on Three Series of Unusual Symbols Discovered on the Byang thang”, in East and West, vol. 47 (1–4), pp. 395–405. Rome: IsMEO.

1996. “A Preliminary Archaeological Survey of gNam mtsho and Dang ra g.yu mtsho”, in The Tibet Journal, vol. 21 (2), 58–84. Dharamsala: LTWA.
Reprint: in The Mirror: Newspaper of the International Dzogchen Community, May/June 1997, July/August 1997, April/May 1998, June/July 1998.

1995. “Doring Revisited”, in Himal, vol. 8 (3), pp. 29–32. Kathmandu.

1994. “Thog lcags”, in The Tibet Journal, vol. 19 (1), pp. 92–97. Dharamsala: LTWA.

1993. “Quest for the Four Fountains of Tibet”, in Himal, vol. 6 (1), pp. 41–44. Kathmandu.


Book Chapters

2015. “The Voice of the Gods in Upper Tibet: The trance-induced invocations and songs of praise of the spirit-medium Phowo Sridgyal”, in The Illuminating Mirror (eds. O. Czaja and G. Hazod), pp. 15–40. Contributions to Tibetan Studies, vol. 12. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag.

2013. “Myths and Rituals of Death”, in Sources of Tibetan Tradition (eds. K. R. Schaeffer, M. T. Kapstein, G. Tuttle), pp. 130–136. New York: Columbia University.

2012. “The Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Sites Around Mount Kailash (Ti-se): A Major Center of Civilization in Ancient Upper Tibet”, in Shri Ashtapad Maha Tirth, vol. II, pp. 163–174. Elmhurst: Jain Center of America. Online digital version: Jain eLibrary, Jain Education International.

2012. “A reconnaissance mission to locate the Ashtapad Temple”, in Shri Ashtapad Maha Tirth, vol. II, pp. 91–102. Elmhurst: Jain Center of America. Online digital version: Jain eLibrary, Jain Education International.

2011. “Territorial Characteristics of the Pre-Buddhist Zhang-zhung Paleocultural Entity: A Comparative Analysis of Archaeological Evidence and Popular Bon Literary Sources”, in Emerging Bon: The Formation of Bon Traditions in Tibet at the Turn of the First Millennium AD (ed. H. Blezer), pp. 51–116. PIATS 2006: Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Königswinter 2006. Halle: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH.

2003. “A Preliminary Archaeological Survey of gNam mtsho and Dang ra g.yu mtsho”, in The History of Tibet, vol. 1, pp. 99–117. London: Routledge.


Book and Article Reviews

In press. “Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography, by Alex McKay”, book review in The Tibet Journal, vol. 42 (no. 2). Dharamsala: LTWA.

In press: “Discussion of “A 5500 Year Model of Changing Crop Niches on the Tibetan Plateau Current”, article review in Current Anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2014. Jason Neelis’ “Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange within and beyond the Northwestern Borderlands of South Asia”, Dynamics in the History of Religion, vol. 2., book review, in Himalaya: Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, vol. 33, no. 1.

2000. ‘Schuyler Jones’ “Tibetan Nomads”, book review in The Tibet Journal, vol. 25 (1), pp. 94–99. Dharamsala: LTWA.

1994. “Victor Chen’s Tibet Handbook”, book review in Himal, vol. 7 (6), p. 31. Kathmandu.


Additional Published Works

Co-authored Lonely Planet Tibet (Lonely Planet Publications, Melbourne: 1999; 2002; 2005; 2008; 2011; 2015) and contributed information and written pieces for Victor Chan’s Tibet Handbook, Stephen Batchelor’s Tibet Guide Book, Stan Armington’s Lonely Planet Trekking in Nepal and Lonely Planet Bhutan, Hugh Swift’s Trekking in the Himalaya and Karakorum, and others.

“Tibet: Nyag Lhakhang Karpo (Guge Lhome). Collection of John Vincent Bellezza (Photographs)”, in Himalayan Art Resources, http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=1371.

“Tibet: Goose Valley”, in Himalayan Art Resources, http://www.himalayan.org/search/set.cfm?setid=2831&page=3.

Contributor of photographs and advisor to “The First Steps: Archaeology of Tibet” and “The Bon Religion: The First Unifying Factor”, in Glimpses on the History of Tibet, by C. Arpi. Dharamsala: The Tibet Museum, 2013, etc.

Contributor of photographs to The Oral Tradition from Zhang-Zhung: An Introduction to the Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings of the Oral Tradition from Zhang-zhung known as the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud, by J. M. Reynolds. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications, 2005.

Contributor of photographs to numerous websites and online forums.



2006–2017: Flight of the Khyung (nos. 1–131), a monthly online newsletter at http://www.tibetarchaeology.com. Each issue is between 1500 and 24,400 words in length, many of which constitute full-length scholarly articles. The main areas of focus are Tibetan archaeology, Tibetan cultural history, Tibetan art history, Tibetan spirit-mediums, the Bon religion, Tibetological conferences, and personal expeditionary activities and journal entries, as well as Nepal, Indian Himalaya, Karakorum, Hindu Kush, Mongolia, environmental issues, international relations, and human consciousness.