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|Monday, June 19, 2000, updated at 22:07(GMT+8)|
Booming Tourism Threatens Mogao Grottoes: ExpertFan Jinshi has devoted half of her life to Dunhuang studies. After decades of working on manuscripts and books and burying herself in archives, she is now turning to computers to preserve the famous Mogao caves located in northwest China.
The 62-year-old director of the China Dunhuang Studies Institute envisages people being able to see the caves with the help of CD ROMS and by doing so preserve some of the most precious and priceless Buddhists artifacts in the world.
"Although the world's most advanced technology is being used to protect the Mogao Grottoes, the caves are nonetheless deteriorating amidst booming tourism in the area," said Fan.
This year marks the centennial anniversary of the discovery of the Mogao caves located in Gansu Province along the trade route known as the "Silk Road".
Huang said that over the past two decades, Chinese archeologists have worked hard to protect the 492 well-preserved caves, which have frescoes covering an area of 45,000 square meters, more than 2,000 colored sculptured figures and five wooden eaves overhanging the caves.
The institute is working hard on an engineering and ecological project to curb desertification around the relic site.
With some 530,000 Chinese and foreign tourists visiting Dunhuang last year, the density of carbon dioxide in the Mogao caves increased, with the acid content in the air causing further erosion.
"Our senior experts are shocked to see the accelerating erosion of many rock paintings," Huang said. She cited a Tang Dynasty (618- 907 A.D.) inscription of the memoir of the building of the Mogao Grottoes. It was clearly seen in the 1960s, but today it has become blurred.
Huang's institute is working with local tourist authorities to ensure that the caves are not inundated with tourists at any one time.
Huang also expects that CD ROMS will help reduce the influx of tourists into the caves because people can see the caves more clearly on a computer than actually visiting the caves.
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