Climate change is killing world's oldest animal cave painting in Sulawesi

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Bharat SharmaUpdated: May 19, 2021, 07:47 PM IST


Story highlights

Researchers say that a picture of a wild pig which was drawn over 45,500 years ago on the island of Sulawesi is now decaying everyday

Climate change is altering weather patterns, killing wildlife and increasing the temperature of the planet everyday. But that’s not all. Its far-reaching consequences are still slowly coming to light.

Now, ancient art is also succumbing to the disastrous effects of climate change. Rock art in Indonesia is decaying at an alarming rate, scientists pointed out in a new study. This way, changes in climate threaten artefacts from different historical junctions located in remote locations across the globe.

Researchers say that a picture of a wild pig which was drawn over 45,500 years ago on the island of Sulawesi is now decaying everyday. The picture is considered the world’s oldest animal cave painting. This particular piece of art is not the only one under threat. Reportedly, similar cave works of art in the region are also deteriorating at a scary rate with increase in temperatures.

Study lead Dr Jillian Huntley from the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research in a press statement said that the findings signal the need for protecting such old works of art which may be lost to climate change in the coming years. “[The art] is disappearing before our eyes”, Huntley said.

The art in question depicts a Sulawesi pig and is considered part of a larger narrative found in the Leang Tedongnge cave. The art shows the earliest evidence of human settlement in the valley in Sulawesi.

The study which observed the deterioration of the world’s oldest cave painting was published in Scientific Reports last week. It included a team of Australian and Indonesian researchers who ascertained that extreme weather patterns clubbed with constantly increasing temperatures have caused salts to accumulate in caves that host the art.

The salts in question change form depending on the weather conditions. During extremely hot conditions, the salts can expand to thrice their original size, according to the team’s findings. When left unchecked, the salts grow on top of the rock art, forcing parts of it to chip off the wall. Eventually, it can destroy complete works of art.