Saturday, November 19, 2016



Flood damage upon chinese rock
art, Helan Mountain, Ningxia
Autonomous Region, China.

A recent story on reported considerable damage to rock art on cliffs of Helan Mountain in the Ningxia Autonomous Region of northwest China by heavy rains and flooding. " reports that rare flooding in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region of northwest China has damaged some of the thousands of prehistoric carvings on the cliffs of Helan Mountain. The images are thought to have been created by nomads who lived in the area between 3,000 and 10,000 years ago. Some of the images were damaged by mud and silt, and about a dozen images that had been carved on individual rocks were carried away by the flood waters. Other pictures were lost when layers of mountain rock peeled off or cracked in the heavy rains. Hu Zhiping, deputy director of the Helan Mountain Cliff Painting Administration, said that the extent of the damage is still being assessed." ( 2016:2)

Helan Mountain was decorated with an estimated 20,000 examples of rock art scattered over several hundred kilometers. These had been created by nomadic tribes once living in the area and are believed to be between 3,000 and 10,000 years in age.  "An employee at the scenic area which has about 6,000 cliff paintings, said about a dozen paintings on individual rocks were unaccounted for." ( 2016:2)

This is another reminder of the ephemeral nature of much rock art. This statement may seem counterintuitive when we are discussing an art form that depends upon solid rock for its medium, but you can visit museums all over the world that are full of ancient works of art that are in better condition than the contents of many rock art sites that are younger in age than those works of art in the museums. The morale of this story is that is still critical that we fully record all rock art so that digital records may be protected for the future. 


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