The University of Ulsan on Thursday launched a research center devoted to preserving a prehistoric rock drawing submerged underwater in the city.
Leading geologists, chemists, folklorists and other experts are taking part in the institute for Bangudae rock carving, the National Treasure No. 285.
The group will conduct research and other activities to prevent the ancient artwork from being further damaged, the university said.
The site was discovered in 1971. The rock-art motifs are considered masterpieces of prehistoric art and an invaluable resource of prehistoric information. More than 200 individual drawings depicting 75 different land and sea animals and hunting scenes are carved on the rocks.
Lee Chul (center), president of University of Ulsan, Kwon Oh-gap (left), chief executive officer of Hyundai Oilbank, and other experts launch a research center to preserve the Bangudae rock drawing site in Ulsan on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
It has been submerged underwater for about eight months every year since 2003 because of Sayeon Dam, which supplies drinking water for Ulsan citizens.
Participants in the opening ceremony included university president Lee Chul and Kwon Oh-gap, chief executive of Hyundai Oilbank, who serves as an auditor for a technical school affiliated to the university.
“The center will run several research projects to check the site’s conditions and find ways to preserve it, as well as forums and other activities to promote public awareness of the valuable relic,” the center said.
It was designated as the 285th National Treasure in 1995.
Preservationists called on the city government to take steps to lower the water level of the river.
The city has been reluctant, citing a possible shortage of drinking water for residents.
“Experts believe that lowering water level is the only way to preserve the site. We will keep pressing the city government over the critical condition it is now in and its importance as a world heritage site,” the institute said.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org