Stones have been considered as one of the popular building material from the olden days due to their availability in abundance from the natural rocks. The historical use of stone related primarily to the proximity of the material resources to the places where these were needed and the ease of transport. Most stone was sourced locally.

India's long history, dating back to 3200 B.C.,  has  been  influenced  significantly  by  the  nature,  development  and  use  of  stones  and  other  construction  materials have  left  deep  imprints  on  the  architectural  heritage  of  the  country.  Innumerable  temples,  forts  and  palaces  of  Ancient  Indian  Civilization  have  been  carved  out  of  locally  available  stones.  The  Taj  Mahal  at  Agra  stands  testimony  to  the  age  defying  beauty  of  Indian  marble.  Some  of  the  ancient  rocks  cut  wonders  are  Khajuraho  Temple,  Elephanta  Caves,  Konark  Temple,  etc.  Ancient  Buddhist  monuments  like  the  Sanchi  Stupa  of  3rd century  BC  have  also  been  carved  out  of  stone. Besides,  all  major  archaeological  excavations  have  revealed  exquisitely  carved  statuettes  and  carvings  in  Stone. 

This  tradition  of  Stone  Architecture  has  continued  to  the  20th century  with  most  of  the  important  buildings  in  India  like  the  Presidential  House,  Parliament  House  and  Supreme  Court  made  from  high  quality  sandstone  of  Rajasthan.  The  Lotus  Temple  of  New  Delhi  stands  witness  to  the  significance  of  marble  in  modern  Indian  architecture.



In most areas where stone is available, it has been favoured over other materials for the construction of monumental architecture. Its advantages are durability, adaptability to sculptural treatment, and the fact that it can be used in its natural state. But it is difficult to quarry, transport, and cut, and its weakness in tension limits its use for beams, lintels, and floor supports.




a. Geological Classification

Stone is classified into three main groups based on their origin of formation as igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks.

b. Physical Classification

Rocks can be classified based on their structure.

  • Stratified rocks – are rocks that have layered in structure and possess planes and stratification or cleavage. They are easily split near these planes. Examples are sandstones, lime stones and slate.
  • Unstratified Rocks – are not layered or stratified in structure. They cannot be split into thin slabs and possess crystalline and compact grains like granite and marble.
  • Foliated Rocks – are rocks that have a tendency to split along a definite direction only and needs to be parallel to each other just like in stratified rocks. This is very common among metamorphic rocks.



In India stone quarries are mainly located in the states of in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and few locations in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar, although they can also be found in many other places.

The stone is obtained from underground by a process of digging, blasting or cutting. This process is known as quarrying and the pit or open excavation from which the stone is obtained is called a Quarry. In the digging process when the stone in the form of raw material is obtained from the walls of the quarry, this is known as a vertical quarry. While when stone is gathered from the bed or floor of the quarry, this is known as a horizontal quarry.

The typical process after quarrying involves the following four steps:
•    Dressing
•    Cutting / sawing
•    Surface grinding and polishing and
•    Edge-cutting-trimming.
Once all processes are complete the stone is ready for shipping to the end user in the form of slabs, tiles, blocks, cobbles, bricks etc.


  • Ashurst, J. Cleaning stone and brick. (Technical Pamphlet N°4). London: Society for the Protection of        Ancient Buildings, 1977.
  • ICCROM, Scientific Principles of Conservation Course. Course exercises, 1977.
  • Mora, P. and Mora-Sbordoni, L. Metodo per la rimozione di incrostazione su pietre calcaree e dipinti murali. In: Problemi di Conservazione, Bologna: Editrice Compositori, 1975, pp. 339-344.
  • ICCROM,  ARC laboratory manual for Architectural Conservators, Jeanne Marie Teutonico, Rome, 1988.



1.    Stone Conservation: An Overview of Current Research, The Getty Conservation Institute.

2.    Illustrated Glossary On Stone Deterioration Patterns, ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Stone (ISCS).

3.    Structural Conservation of Stone Masonry, International Technical Conference Athens, 31.X. — 3.XI.1989 ICCROM.

4.    Historic Stone Masonry Restoration, Journal of architectural technology published by Hoffmann Architects, Inc.