Race to save moulding Lascaux cave paintings By John Lichfield in Paris, The Independent
The French government is taking emergency action to rescue the world's most celebrated prehistoric cave paintings from a second fungal invasion in seven years.
Each day until 8 January, experts are treating the caverns at Lascaux in the Dordogne – nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of pre-history – with a fungicide to try to check a gradual spread of spots of grey and black mould. The caves will then be closed to all but essential visitors for three months.
An air conditioning system, installed just before a similar fungal attack seven years ago, is to be replaced. Some scientists believe the introduction of the machinery was misconceived and may be partially responsible for the fungal invasions.
Other experts blame global warming for increasing the temperature in the caves. Others point to an increased level of human activity in the caverns as part of an ambitious attempt to create an exact computerised record in three dimensions of the 17,000-year-old paintings of bison, wild cattle, deer and other animals.