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18 March 2007
Tracing back Malaysia's stone-age man in Lenggong

Peninsular Malaysia's oldest inhabitant, is residing in the new Lenggong Museum. Perak Man, found in 1991, is the only complete human skeleton found in Malaysia. The cave which was his final resting place is called Gua Gunung Runtuh and is situated in Bukit Kepala Gajah in the Lenggong Valley in Ulu Perak. The skeleton, found by Prof Zuraini Majid and her team from Universiti Sains Malaysia, has been dated about 11,000 years, which makes him a Stone Age man, from the Palaeolithic period.
     It is believed Perak Man was an important member of his tribe judging by the way he was buried, in a foetal position, and accompanied by stone tools. He was about 157cm tall and probably aged between 40-50 when he died. He had an atrophied left hand and one finger was deformed. The skeleton, remnants of tools and food such as shells and animal bones were found in the cave as well.
     Gua Gunung Runtuh was probably used as a temporary camp when the people were out hunting, being well situated high up. In the same hill other caves have yielded archaeological remains such as stone tools and food remnants, but no more skeletons. The caves were probably used as temporary shelters as seasonal or hunting camps, whereas Gua Gunung Runtuh was lived in for longer periods.
     Kota Tampan is the site of a prehistoric stone tool workshop, and has been dated at about 74,000 years old. This makes it older than the archaeological remains which have been found at Niah Cave in Sarawak, where one human skull has been dated at about 40,000 years old. But all these findings are still very young compared to those from Africa, where the predecessors of the human species originated about three to five million years ago.
     Various other caves in the vicinity were dug by the researchers who found artifacts from the Bronze Neolithic Age at Gua Harimau, and stone tools from the Upper Palaeolithic age at Gua Telok Kelawar and Ngaum caves.

Source: The Brunei Times (17 March 2007)

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