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The article is devoted to the problems of preserving the underground environment of Ignatievka Cave, a unique site of the history of nature and culture. In it, according to the results of previous scientific studies, rock painting are preserved, more than 10 000 years old. The graphic ensemble includes figures of animals (mammoth and horse prevail), fantastic and composite creatures, anthropomorphic beings and non-fi gurative motifs. Excavations in various places of the cave revealed a layer of visiting Upper Paleolithic age with stone products, ocher and ornaments. During the time that has elapsed since the discovery of the drawings of the glacial age in 1980, they have degraded greatly due to the uncontrolled fl ow of visitors for a long time. Sometimes, on summer days of peak loads, up to a thousand tourists visited the cave. The walls and arches of the karst cavity are thickly covered with soot, modern graffi ti, sometimes and right over the ancient images, in many places there are traces of mechanical damage, on the floor, and rock base there is a huge amount of mold fungi threatening the colorful figures with further destruction. The specialists of the academic institutes of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have created a program of fundamental and applied scientifi c research of Ignatievka Cave. The program is aimed primarily at establishing the diagnosis of negative processes in the underground cavity, and the development of measures to “treatment” the complex environment of this unique monument. The implementation of these measures will stop the destruction of the Upper Paleolithic images, and, perhaps, restore them. In the future, after the implementation of effective actions to improve all the structural elements of the state of the underground environment of Ignatievka Cave, it can be included in the tourist infrastructure of the Ural region.


Southern Urals, Ignatievka Cave, the art of the Ice Age, conservation problems.

Vladimir N. Shirokov

Institute of History and Archeology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yekaterinburg, Russia

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