A UNESCO World Heritage Site famous across the globe for their 15,000 to 17,500 years old cave paintings, the Lascaux caves in Southern France are now under a serious threat. A fungus attack which is spreading in the form of dark stains, is threatening the amazing prehistoric murals of bulls, felines and other images.
The problem of fungus infection is nothing new to the Lascaux cave. Sealed off way back in 1963, a replica of the main cave is what is on display to visitors today.
The geology of the caves, the composition of the stone and the humid conditions have always been a contributing factor to fungus growth. With global warming now heating up the caves further and causing a stagnant air inside, the fungus seems to be rapidly spreading. That’s why researchers from across the globe will be attending a two-day symposium that will explore possible solutions to the mounting problem.
Two possible solutions to be examined at the conference include the installation of a system to regulate the cave’s temperature and the use of biocides, which kill the bacteria and have been used in the cave before, with mixed results.
While the best possible method suggested right now is to seal off the cave completely so that it ‘heals itself’, the method does not guarantee success. While sending in scientists to rectify the problem is a possible solution, their simple presence could backfire increasing doing more harm then good.
Let’s hope they come up with something, before it’s too late.