fungus in Lascaux Caves

Image from The Painted Gallery

This is disturbing news. After reading it, I had to go and revisit the online Lascaux Caves site to marvel over the great art, such as the image above.

A pernicious white fungus has spread “like snow” in the caves of Lascaux in France where the fabulous rock art has been described as the “Sistine Chapel of prehistory”.

The fungus is believed to have been introduced after contractors began to install a new air conditioning system that was meant to preserve the precious 17,000-year-old cave paintings from the heat and humidity generated by their many visitors.
The historical importance of Lascaux is immeasurable and any damage to its art would have serious repercussions given the cave’s status as an evolutionary icon for the development of human art and consciousness.

The figures are so modernist in design that when Picasso emerged from the cave soon after it was first discovered in 1940 he exclaimed: “We have invented nothing.”

Read more in The Independent.

Related links: Time magazine and Lascaux Caves replica, an earlier post.

May 10, 2006 in Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena