Abstract The Longmen Grottoes, also known as the Longmen Caves or Dragon's Gate Grottoes, are located near the city of Luoyang, Henan province, China. The grottoes were carved into the limestone cliffs during the period from 493 AD to 1130 AD. Limestone samples from different areas within the grottoes were analyzed by neutron activation analysis (NAA) to determine the concentrations of major, trace and rare-earth elements (REEs). Three compositional groups were identified corresponding to different areas within Longmen Grottoes. X-ray diffraction (XRD) was performed on a few samples to obtain information about the mineral structure. The results indicate that rocks in the northern area are comprised of dolomite, while rocks in the middle and southern areas are comprised of limestone. The NAA results provide information useful for identifying and relocating fragments from the grottoes that may have lost their identity. The compositional data also provides important clues regarding the geologic history of the limestone formation at Longmen.