Rock Art Research & Conservation with Kestrel Weather Meters

Rock Art Research & Conservation with Kestrel Weather Meters

Can caves tell stories? Yes! Especially when it comes to cave paintings, dating back to the earliest known depictions from 35,400 years ago. Some of the most well-known cave paintings throughout the world are in the Cave of Altamira (Spain), Lascaux (France), and Magura Cave (Bulgaria).

While some cave paintings remain inside caves, others are on display at museums. Whether the painting in question is indoors or outdoors, the environment will significantly determine the conservation and longevity of the art.

How Was Paint Made for Cave Art?

Prehistoric paint isn't like the paint we use today. The pigments used in cave paintings came from the earth, typically from calcite, limonite, hematite, and charcoal from fire.

The paint was likely made into a liquid paste or ground into a fine powder. Then, it was creatively applied with tools such as sticks, feathers, fingers, and even blown through hollow bones.

Unfortunately, the pigments of these paints can be destroyed by microbes, especially from tourists. In fact, in 2002, the Cave of Altmaria was closed down after discovering photosynthetic bacteria and fungi were consuming the pigments. Even body heat can be a threat to cave paintings.

Monitoring Environmental Conditions for Cave Painting Preservation

Conserving rock art is important because it represents some of the earliest forms of human creativity. Caves are the birthplace of painting, an art form still present tens-of-thousands of years later.

When it comes to conserving cave art, Rock Art Research is one of the go-to resources for studying rock art and other forms of paleoart. Established in 1984, scientists and rock art experts used Kestrel Weather Meters to help determine an ideal conservation environment.

"We are taking environmental conditions in rock art places to know about climate conditions to control their conservation." -Kestrel 5200 Product Testimonial

For example, The Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia is home to the most substantial collection of rock engravings in the world. In an extreme environment such as Western Australia, lack of water, exposure to UV rays, and temperature fluctuations can impact rock varnish formation, rock engravings, and cave paintings.

Furthermore, indoor environments must be regulated to ensure proper cave painting conservation. Air circulation and low energy solutions are recommended for the preservation of cave paintings. A stable relative humidity between 40% and 50% is recommended, along with temperatures of 60 degrees to 77 degrees F.

How can scientists track such specific environmental conditions? The Kestrel 5200 Weather Meter provides plenty of environmental tracking options to preserve cave paintings with measurements such as:

  • Relative Humidity
  • Dew Point Temperature
  • Humidity Ratio
  • Temperature
  • Air Glow
  • WInd speed/airspeed
  • Barometric pressure
  • And much more

Kestrel Weather Meters is a reliable resource for conserving cave art and many other artifacts from centuries ago. Explore the benefits of Kestrel 5200 and our range of other weather meters for conservation in museums and more!

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