The mysterious and unique rock paintings of stone circles in South Africa, have been estimated to be well over 50,000 years old. It remains a big question – which came first… the stone circle ruins… or the rock art of the original structure itself as a plan or map. How can we be so sure about the dating of the rock art? The patina growth gives it away. Keep in mind that the patina grows incredibly slowly – and the thicker it gets, the slower it grows. By the time this patina is a millimeter thick, it is most likely well over 10,000 years old.
The cracks that have appeared across some of the rock art, have indicated the extreme age of the paintings and raised a big question. Why has the patina on the surface of the rock grown back into the crack and in several cases filled the entire crack, while the patina has not grown over the rock art paint lines. This suggests that the paint substance used by the artists is very resistant to patina growth. The chemistry needs to be examined and reproduced for testing. It is obviously an incredible anti-oxidant and can be very useful in our lives today. I do not think that we have any such paint today that will withstand 50,000 years or more of weathering.
Here is an example of a crack that appeared and actually separated the paint line – a piece of paint can be seen on the outside of the crack. The crack is almost completely filled and overgrown by patina.
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