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Climate change destroying oldest cave art

Date: 20 May 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


Researchers have claimed that climate change is affecting one of the most precious human heritages, the oldest cave art.



The cave art is about 45,000-20,000 years old and located on the Sulawesi island of Indonesia. It belongs to the Pleistocene era.



  • The paintings are present on the limestone karsts of Maros-Pangkep of southern part of Sulawesi Island. The painting includes one of the oldest hand stencils to have created by man.

  • A nearby cave also contains one of the oldest paintings depicting an animal in the form of a wart pig, drawn about 45,000 years ago.

  • Researchers discovered that salt crystals made of calcium sulphate and sodium chloride have begun appearing on the rock surfaces, making them to detach.

  • The repeated changes in temperature and humidity have led to growth in salt crystals, causing pigments used on the artwork to decay. This process is called haloclasty.

  • Indonesia is also vulnerable to disasters such as flooding, tsunami or other events that has further threatened the artworks.


Expert recommendations

Experts have said that the cave needs to be monitored regularly for chemical and physical degradation to preserve the heritage and value, similar to caves of Lascaux and Altamira in France and Spain.