|12 April 2013
Climate change threatens Neolithic art
Rock art is one of the earliest forms of human artistic expression, emerging in some parts of the world more than 50,000 years ago.
Thousands of Neolithic and Bronze Age open-air rock art panels exist across the countryside in northern England, however desecration, pollution, and other factors are threatening the survival of these iconic stone monuments.
Newcastle University scientists, who believe there is already evidence of increasing deterioration in Northumberland's rock art, warn that weathering may accelerate over the next 50 years because of climate change bringing warmer, wetter weather and increased wind, which could have a devastating effect. The 4000 to 6000 year old decorations are typified by cup marks, or complex patterns of cups, rings and grooves, mostly on sandstone.
David Graham, professor of Ecosystems Engineering, points out that climate models predict more intense rainfall and strengthening wind. "If a system has more energy, reactions will go faster and the potential for weathering will increase," he says.
Guidance is being developed on identifying and protecting the rock art most at risk. Measures could include improved drainage around the rock art panels.
Edited from Financial Times (15 March 2013)
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