Monday, July 28, 2008

Lascaux paintings in peril

Pollution problem

The cave of Lascaux, with its Upper Paleolithic wall-paintings, dating probably from the Solutrean epoch (21 to 18 thousand years ago), is located in the Dordogne department of south-west France, in the ancient province of Aquitaine. To avoid damage through pollution, the main cave, referred to as Lascaux I, has been permanently closed to sightseers ever since 1963, but they have been able to visit a nearby replica known as Lascaux II.

A year ago, the authorities were alarmed by the discovery of black mold in certain parts of the cave system, and it was recently decided to ban all humans from Lascaux I for a period of three months, while the moldy areas were treated with a biocidal product. Although the outcome has been encouraging, Unesco has nevertheless presented France with an ultimatum. If the mold is not totally eradicated within a year, the caves could be added to the dishonorable list of World Heritage entities in peril.

Vigilance

Last Friday, the French minister of Culture, Christine Albanel, visited the site and outlined a draconian program of "vigilance" designed to get rid of the black mold. In the commune of Montignac, the entire hill where the caves are located is to become a sanctuary, with the prohibition of all human construction and the gradual purchase by the state of all the surrounding land. Vehicles will no longer be allowed to park near Lascaux II, whose visitors will be obliged to access the replica cave on foot. Finally, Unesco has asked France to organize an international colloquium of experts, early next year, to examine the challenges of preserving Europe's prehistoric wall paintings.

6 comments:

Colin Campbell said...

The Lascaux paintings were very inspiring to me when I was in primary school. We did some project work on them. This kind of issue is an important one.

catherine todd said...

Excellent article, full of important and interesting information. Thanks for posting! Hope you keep up the good work...

catherine todd said...

Great article... so interesting and well written I came back and linked it to my own blog. Thanks so much for writing! By the way, how do you get your comments to display all the time on your blog page? Can't seem to find out how to do this, myself. CT

William Skyvington said...

Catherine:
If you click the title of a post, it will be redisplayed with visible comments. Then, to get back to the normal blog display, use the back arrow.

caves of lascaux said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Lascaux’s rich inventory of art were the fine works of the Cro-magnon man. You can find most primitive lunar calendar ever created on the walls of the Lascaux Caves. You must see string of thirteen dots ending in a square shape that point out to the Moon’s half monthly cycle. The empty square represents the missing Moon. Chamber of Felines has an assortment of a seemingly smaller section of beautiful carvings and pictures. people are very much attracted to such work of art.

catherine todd said...

"caves of lascaux" really seems to knows what they are talking about. I had no idea there was a lunar calendar that long ago. Thanks for the important information, and I hope I get to see them one day!