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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fungus threatens ancient cave paintings

November 21, 2007

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— New clusters of black fungus are spreading over famed cave drawings in southwest France, scientists warned Tuesday.

But the scientists said they have found a bacteria-killing recipe to protect the remarkable Paleolithic paintings.

The new stains are the latest biological threat to the Lascaux cave drawings, which were discovered in 1940 and are considered one of the finest examples of prehistoric art.

Carbon-dating suggests the murals of bulls, felines and other images were created between 15,000 and 17,500 years ago in the caves near Montignac, in the Dordogne region.

In 1963, after green algae and other damage appeared, the caves were closed to the public. Only scientists and a few others are now allowed to enter at certain times; a replica of the main Lascaux cavern was built nearby and has become a big tourist draw.

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