The Preservation of our Oldest and Finest Remains

While learning about the Upper Paleolithic time period and watching the video, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, we learn about the importance of the context of these remains and cave paintings, but mostly the importance of the need for the preservation of these remnants. A part of the video about the Chauvet Cave that stuck out to me was that part of the cave was closed off because the paintings started showing signs of mold growth on them that was damaging the cave paintings. And while these cave paintings are beautiful and deserve to be seen, the importance of preserving the art should be a higher priority, and the general public is not allowed to enter the cave for the protection of both the ancient art and the people because of the “near-toxic levels of radon and carbon dioxide”. Thankfully this cave is only at risk by human contact, while other caves are in danger from climactic changes as well as the presence of humans.


The Chauvet Cave is also not the only example of cave art that is at risk, an article in science daily also describes art panels in caves from the Neolitic and Bronze Age in Northumberland and England that show deterioration. Dr Aron Mazel , Director of ICCHS at Newcastle University, said, “People think rocks are permanent and that because rock art seems to have been there for a very long time , it will last forever.  Sadly, this is not the case and some of the world’s most interesting art could be at risk. We need to act now if we want this art, which was created by humans thousands and thousands of years ago, to be there in the future.” Anthropologists and scientists alike recognize the danger they are in and are working on how to better preserve these ancient paintings for future study and generations to come.


The remains of ancient cultures are fragile and they need to be a priority for preservation. Thankfully from the article there are developments in identifying the specific rock art that is the most at risk. Not only does this acknowledgement of preservation help archaeologists and anthropologists in their field, but also gives way to scientific studies of what cause the deterioration and decay in wall art as well as preservation and cultural heritage. This early warning will help the scientific and cultural fields involved discover better advancements in protecting the delicate remains of our human past.

source:Newcastle University (2013, March 14). Ancient rock art at risk, warn experts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from­/releases/2013/03/130314124325.htm