Thursday, July 29, 2010

CAPTURE 6 :Lenggong Archeological Museum

Welcome to Lenggong Archeological Museum
Museum View from the hill top

Entrance to the Museum
Lenggong Archeological Museum is located within an oil palm estate in Lenggong, a small quaint town in the northern region of Perak or Ulu Perak. Surrounded by hills and thick forest this small town is one of the most important archeological sites in South East Asia. It can be reached via a trunk road interconnecting it with neighboring towns and pass through a number of small Malay villages. One can see oil palm estates and fruit orchards along the way.  It gradually gained importance in Malaysian history since the discovery of archeological sites in the surrounding area in the year 1938. Many Malaysians are not aware or perhaps never heard about these historical sites in Lenggong. 

The team of archeologists
Some of the archeological sites
Display of Excavated Site
Believed to be one of the Paleolithic sites in Malaysia, the excavations in the surroundings have significantly proved existence of human settlement from the Paleolithic age. The excavations carried out by a team of archeologists from Universiti Sains Malaysia, have uncovered many hidden facets of Lenggong. Various discoveries such as jewellery, cave drawings, ancient jewelry, pottery, weapons and stone tools undoubtedly indicates strong evidence of human dwelling in this area since Paleolithic period. 
Some of the tools use for excavation

Though many artifacts were found and being preserved, the highlight of the finding is, actually the complete skeleton of Perak Man believed to be 11,000 years old. This discovery took place in the year 1991. Though extensive research and excavations are going on, up to-date Perak Man is the oldest human skeleton ever found in this region. It is located at Gua Gunung Runtuh situated in Bukit Kepala Gajah. The skeleton with a height of approximately 157cm, and about 50 years of age was buried in the fetal position. There were no other burials found in this cave. The archeological team also found deposits of animal bones and stone tools around the body. Further excavations carried out yielded another positive result in the year 2004.  A skeleton of about 8000 years old, believed to be a woman (labeled Perak Woman) with the height of 148cm in her 40s, was found at Gua Teluk Kelawar in Lenggong.

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to see the Perak Woman’s skeleton, I managed to obtain permission to enter the room where Perak Man’s skeleton is well preserved in a glass casing inside a temperature controlled room. And, then after the tour of the museum my friend and I headed to Gua Gunung Runtuh to get a first hand look at the Perak Man’s burial ground. It was not an easy task to get to the cave. We had to drive through what seemed to be truly backdated villages cluttered amidst hills before we reached a forked road without a proper signage to take us to the cave. Not knowing which way to turn to, we stopped and asked for direction. Thank God, the youth was kind enough to guide us to the cave. According to him it is not an easy task to go there as one can easily get lost in the jungle. Not wanting to waste our time, we ‘hired’ him to take us. We drove a short distance, after which the road is not accessible by car. Thus, we walked for a few hundred meters, when we saw a young couple who had apparently been searching for the cave headed towards us. We accommodated them, thus three become five. The more the merrier. The hike took us across a small bridge, an orchard, then across a small stream. After the stream, we had to wade through path abandoned and the hike began.
 The Skeleton of Perak Man

Newspaper clippings about the finding
Ceremonial burial of Perak Man
The Hill - Perak Man's burial place is located
Heading towards the cave

Perak Man's burial spot
I am inside the burial hole
It was not very steep but enough to drain us of our energy. After about two kilometers of walking and climbing the hill, we reached Gua Gunung Runtuh. ‘Gua’ means ‘cave’ in Malay language. It was raining; the earth covered with dried leaves, thus a little slippery. We could see what was slightly larger than a grotto. We thread the rocky slabs very carefully; one little mistake could land our bumps on the sharp edges of the slabs, eroded and sharpened by frequent flow of rain water. We managed to reach the mouth of the cave, I sighed with relieve anticipating some thrilling experience. Alas!!..though we were thrilled that finally we have reached the cave, the dire state of the historical site saddened me most. The area was not gated and easily accessible by everyone. I understand the locals used to enter the cave to get the bat droppings for their vegetations, and this definitely causes disruption to the whole historical scenario. I could see the burial ground, the tapes used to protect the area, the markings made etc. The cave was a very small area with an opening above the cave, and the burial ground is just slightly more than 1 meter depth. The thick foliage blocks immense light from entering the cave through the opening. I would say it is our fault that we didn’t carry headlight nor a torchlight because being a historical site, I assumed the necessary infrastructure might have been installed there, but the situation is still primitive there.  
Small opening above the cave allows some light
Out of the cave...and felt so relieved!

After spending a solid two hours in and out of the cave, we decided to return. Though the rain had stopped by now, going downhill we exercised extreme caution so that no one will be injured. We reached the foot of the hill safely.  We were exhausted and drained to the last drop of sweat. We each paid our ‘guide’ RM10.00. So he made RM40.00. Good enough for a student, and we were grateful to him for taking us to the cave and provided some useful insights about the cave as well as the people living in the vicinity.
Tasik Raban/Raban Lake

We moved out from the area at about 3.30 pm. Stopped awhile at Tasik Raban for lunch; rested for about 1 hour. Then we continued our journey back home. I will go once again, but this time around to explore the jungles and other caves scattered around the Lenggong town.

Errors under your tender care.
Mistakes are mine.
Corrections are yours.

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Swatantra said...

Cute pictures!!

Brian Pks said...

Author i am currently running a research on Lengong Valley’s Personality, can you kindly fill in the questionnaire for me, and the same time allow the readers or whoever had visited the heritage site to fill in as well. Thanks for your kind help. Will be appreciate if you can suggest to friends who had visited the Lenggong Valley as well.