sign in a cave in Laos

20 April 2015

Bukit Bunuh meteorite site, Lenggong, Perak

Not a cave site, but it is related to Malaysian archaeology and the Lenngong Valley in Perak, so I will post it here rather than on my non-cave blog.

Bukit Bunuh is in the Lenggong valley, Perak, Malaysia. The excavation site at Bukit Bunuh was dug about 2000 and revealed stone artefacts, and the litho workshop was dated at 40,000 years. Prior to these finds, the oldest site in the Lenggong Valley was said to be at Bukit Jawa, up to 200,000 years old -

The Bukit Bunuh site later revealed stone artefacts such as handaxes and chopping tools. They were found embedded in suevite rock, which formed as a result of the impact of meteorites.

These were then dated at 1.83 million years old. The Malaysian researchers then claimed that early man had existed in Southeast Asia, specifically in Malaysia more than 1.8 million years ago. They then suggested rewriting the "Out of Africa" theory.

labels L-R hammer stone, hand axe, flake tool

hand axe 1.83 myo
The Universiti Sains Malaysia researchers said this is evidence of the oldest prehistoric man in Southeast Asia, at 1.83 myo. It is older than the Sangiran site, Java, Indonesia, 1.2 to 1.7 million years ago.

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mokhtar, the handaxe, made from a type of quartz found in river beds, is the first of its kind found in this region, making it the oldest artefact found in the world.

The whole thing is controversial. USM are making these claims but they haven't been independently verified. Nothing seems to have been published in international journals.

The date of impact is given as 1.83 million year ago, "using a fission track dating method in Geochronology Lab in Japan, Tokyo". In most reports there is no error margin given. So it could mean between 1.825 and 1.835 million year ago. There is however an error margin in this report from Archaeology News ,  1.83 ± 0.61 million year ago. It means that the meteorite hit earth between 1.2 and 2.4 million year ago.

In July 2012 (USM) announced they would "register the archaeological location which is of international status, Bukit Bunuh as one of the world’s meteorite impact sites". However by mid 2014 it was still not on the PASSC database. And as it didn't make the Malaysian news I guess it hasn't happened. It seems they are having to get new data before they can register it.

The site is in a huge oil palm plantation and there is no access. I was able to go there in 2014. There is no mention of it being the Bukit Bunuh site except for this sign.

Once inside the gate it was a case of pot luck in choosing the right track to take through the vast estate. We stopped to look at rocks

We saw a man doing some work and he kindly directed us to the dig site where the original excavations were done -

We then drove around
Looking towards Bukit Bunuh from the Perak River -

From the Lenggong Museum -
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

16 April 2015

Little Foot & Lucy v Perak Man and Niah skull

Malaysia's oldest human remains are the skull at Niah, dated at about 40,000 years, and the complete skeleton of Perak Man which is about 11,000 years old. See my website.
The oldest 'confirmed' site of  human inhabitation in Malaysia is in the Lenggong Valley in Perak, said to be 200,000 years old (Bukit Jawa). And there is the controversial Bukit Bunuh meteor impact site that Malaysians claim to be 1.86 million years old, although as far as I am aware, no scientific reports have been published since the find in 2000.

Even if the age of Bukit Bunuh is correct, it is still far younger than the finds made in Africa.

The most famous African fossil is Lucy, from Ethiopia, a species of Australopithecus afarensis.

Little Foot, a member of the species Australopithecus prometheus / Australopithecus africanus, was found in the 1990s in the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa. The nearly complete Little Foot fossil skeleton has recently been re-dated with new techniques and is roughly 3.7 million years old. It was the hardened sediments surrounding the fossil that gave this reading. If the skeleton is the same age, this means South Africa has the oldest existence of human evolution! However there is the possibility that the skeleton itself is not as old as the sediments that surround it.

Both species blended ape-like and human-like traits but with different features. They lived about the same time. However Lucy herself lived about 500,000 years later than Little Foot. Little Foot is also female and according to researchers, was bigger and taller than Lucy.

Little Foot has well over 90% of its bones intact, whereas the Lucy skeleton is only 40% complete and lacks a head.

They both come under the Homo genus. Our species of Homo, Homo sapiens, only appeared about 200,000 years ago.

It is interesting that at least two Australopithecus species lived at the same time in different parts of Africa, about 3.67 million years ago. Maybe there are more waiting to be found...........

See full reports in Nature (published online 1 April 2015 and Nat Geog News.

Archaeology at Krabi, Thailand

The popular tourist destination of Krabi in southern Thailand is surrounded by limestone hills and islands and there are many caves. It is also an archaeological site. I've blogged about it a few times. 

There was an interesting article in the Bangkok Post travel section on 7 April 2015, "Krabi's hidden wonder. The province is home to several major archaeological sites, some of which are under threat from human activity ".

It is worth seeing the whole article,
Krabi's hidden wonder | Bangkok Post: travel

And my blogs on caves and areas mentioned in the article, see my links in the labels list on the right of the page, Krabi, Phi Hua To tham, Bokkhorani .