Climate Change is Erasing this 45,500-Year-Old Cave Painting

This cave painting found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is believed to be 45,500 years old, making it the oldest rock art discovered to date. However, archaeologists fear that climate change is rapidly erasing it, as warming temperatures and severe weather events from El Niño are increasing the rate of exfoliation from the walls of the cave.

Archaeologists say that the pigment is not only peeling from the wall, but that the stone surface that the pigment is attached to is also eroding.

‘The impact is very severe and will destroy the paintings,’ said archaeologist Basran Burhan. ‘Of course it is a great loss for us, because this is a very spectacular piece of work by our ancestors, who made these artistic paintings that are full of stories, and they were able to do it more than 40,000 years ago.’