Joint Research with Indonesia on Cave Mural Paintings in southern Sulawesi

Mural using anoa and the human hand as a motif (Sumpang Bita Cave)

 As part of joint research on site monitoring, we executed a field survey on cave mural paintings in southern Sulawesi with the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office in Indonesia from January 24 to 30. There are over 100 limestone caves in southern Sulawesi, and several of the caves have mural paintings which were presumably drawn 3,000 to 1,000 years ago. Many of the murals were created by blowing red colorant over the human hand as it was pressed to the wall, with motifs of regional unique animals such as babyrousa (a species of wild boar),anoa (a species of cattle), fish, birds, and boats appearing. On the murals, phenomena such as changes in rock composition through water leaching, surface recrystallization and the detachment of rocky surfaces were visible, and it is conceivable that changes in the environment, such as the cutting down of peripheral trees, caused the murals to deteriorate. We visited eight caves at the local site, and discussed the causes of deterioration and measures for future conservation with the conservation specialists in Indonesia. We plan to investigate monitoring techniques in order to establish appropriate conservation plans jointly with the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Office and the local Makassar Cultural Heritage Conservation Center.

to page top