sign in a cave in Laos

29 July 2012

Bukit Jawa, Lenggong, 2012

I first visited Bukit Jawa in 2007.

Bukit Jawa is the oldest Paleolithic site in Malaysia along with the neighbouring Temelong and Lawin areas. It has been dated at around 200,000 years old. It is located at Kampung Gelok, about 7 km north of Lenggong in Perak. It is not cave related.

On 30 June 2012 the Lenggong Valley was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I visited Bukit Jawa again on 20 July 2012.

There had been a few changes over the 5 years. I was surprised to see a large wooden shelter
whereas on my previous visit a simple attap roof just covered the dig site
The simple 6 runged wooden ladder had gone and a more elaborate wooden staircase with hand rails had replaced it, BUT this was in pieces and roped off.
We had to walk up the slope on the left side of the building. The dig site was the same
but there was no fence around it as there was in this 2007 photo
I wondered why such a large shelter had been built, considering the dig only occupied a very small area.
There was a notice inside but it was quite hard to read in the relative dark and it was hard to take photos with the reflective surface
There were many signs of termites attacking the wood
and I wondered how long the structure would last, considering the stairs have already broken in less than 5 years. Also the concrete supports for the posts seem to be just placed on sand, and I wonder how long they will last.

Considering Bukit Jawa is such an important place in Malaysia's prehistory, and now that Lenggong has got World Heritage status, it is such a pity that this site is not maintained.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Lenggong Museum geology park

After visiting the Lenggong Museum in July 2012, we then went outside to see the geology park. The huge sign board was very hard to read with orange writing on a blue and grey picture.
The park is set in oil palm plantation, on a hill with a series of steps and slopes. These looked as if they could get slippery if allowed to get covered in algae and the metal handrails got very hot in the sun. Thankfully there was some shade.

The park has various examples of large rocks such as quartz, alluvium, volcanic ash from Toba, suevite, and the Lawin Basin deposits. The English is rather poor on many of the descriptions and there are factual errors.
Quartz above, and alluvium below
Volcanic ash from Toba above, and suevite below.

Deposits from Lawin basin

The path then leads on up hill to the huge observation tower. It has 4 floors and there are nice views over the surroundings, although the palm trees do block a lot of view. The tower seems to be unnecessarily big.
On the way back down through the park are rocks of granite, Lawin tuff, limestone, quartzite and quartz.
Lawin tuff (above), limestone (below)
quartzite (above) and quartz (below)

Looking back up. This slope was already slippery, will be dangerous when wet!

We then had a look at a newish building which covers a dig. The site was fenced off and there was no sign board. It seems as if a new path is being constructed to this area, which is simply called tapak ekskavasi.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

Lenggong Museum, Perak, Malaysia

The Lenggong Valley in Perak, Malaysia, was listed as a World Heritage site on 30 June 2012.

My last visit to the museum was in 2003, shortly after it opened.

I returned on 20 July 2012, just 3 weeks after Lenggong was listed as a WH site. I expected great things from the musuem, and was disappointed. There was no real mention of the WH status and the museum exhibits had not been updated since at least 2009.

In comparison the Perak Darul Musuem in Ipoh is far better. Earlier in 2012 it was set up to feature archaeology in anticipation of Lenggong getting the UNESCO listing. The result is good. I can't say the same about the Lenggong museum.

Using the highway from Ipoh, you take the Kuala Kangsar exit, but there are no signs about Lenggong. It is only after the toll that the first sign is seen. This says the museum is 33 km, but in fact it is at least 38 km, which would be confusing for those using gps.
Having turned off the main road you go past Kota Tampan village. There is a building site, which looks like it might be connected with the museum and the first signs of World Heritage.
At the junction to the museum is a large fake stone with a dark brown sign saying welcome to the museum.
Outside the museum I noticed the large sign on the wall was completely missing the name of the museum, only the address was shown. Compare with 2nd photo taken in 2003
The phone was also missing from the booth!
And disappointly there was no real mention of World Heritage, only this same sign which appeared in a few places
Department of National Heritage , Archaeology gallery, Lenggong Valley, our heritage, world heritage.
We parked by the fake boulder and the stench of air freshener from the toilet hit us. Since my last visit, the museum was moved into the adjacent building. The entrance is made to look like a cave entrance.
Again there was no real mention of the World Heritage status, only the notice in Bahasa Malaysia.
Entry to the museum is free. As we signed the book, the caretaker went in to switch on some audio visual displays.
It was interesting to see that the visitor numbers were very high on some days since the world heritage listing less than 3 weeks before.
The first audio visual is a welcome talk by Dr. Adi Hj Taha, who sadly passed away in Feb 2012. The screen is housed in a huge replica of an earthenware jar (3000 years old) found in Gua Harimau.
There are many wall displays like giant posters, containing historical photos of various digs.
We were immediately hit by noise pollution with 2 audio visuals on the go plus a recording of some gamelan type music which was totally unnecessary.
The visitor space was quite cramped and the wall displays a bit overpowering. There were 2 cabinets of tools used by archaeologists.

A further series of posters and then a time chart. I realised that the information has not been updated since 2009. Bukit Bunuh is listed as being 40,000 years old, Kota Tampan at 74,000, and Bukit Jawa at 100-200,000 years old. Considering that Bukit Bunuh was dated in 2009 to be about 1.83 myo, there is plenty of time to have updated the museum info.
Bukit Jawa Kpg Temeleng Lawin at the bottom as they are the oldest sites
Archaeological sites
The Gua Badak drawings are shown and because old historical photos were used, the results are not too good.
There is a display of stone tools but they are not individually labelled. Metal artefacts are shown on a poster.
Another chart showing the migration of Homo sapiens from Africa to Perak shows them leaving Africa 150,000 years ago, going via Yemen and being in Malaysia 70-74,000 years ago. The text describes Kota Tampan as being a wooded valley near Penang! No update to list Bkt Bunuh at 1.83 myo.
There is a large “diorama” in a display cabinet showing prehistoric families going about daily activities and then the corner of this room is devoted to Perak Man.
Unfortunately the display cases have sliding doors resulting in an overlapping of glass in the front, which made photo taking more difficult. The visitor then walks through a “polystyrene” cave.
Unfortunately one of the fake boulders is already breaking.
In the corner of the cave is a replica of the 11,000-year old Perak Man skeleton (the original is in the National Museum in KL). There is a lot of information about Perak Man around the cave walls.
The next room is Gua Teluk Kelawar. There are more models of people going about daily life in Gua Teluk Kelawar.
Uptil now all displays had been in Bahasa Malaysia and English. But now the charts on the diet of early man were only in Malay.
The Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia is often mentioned, but this changed its name to the Centre for Global Archaeological Research, PPAG, in February 2009.
Next to be featured is Gua Harimau. A display shows a complete skeleton but only partial skeletons were found in this cave. Some of the Bronze Age findings and jewellery from Gua Harimau are shown.
In the next section are posters on rock paintings at Lenggong and Gua Tambun and maps of cave sites. And a replica of the 8000 year old Gua Cha skeleton.
Another old time chart again shows Bukit Jawa etc as being the oldest sites
A staircase leads to the upper floor but this is closed.

As soon as we left, the doors were closed for the long Fri prayer/lunch time.

The building next door is the old musuem, which I visited in 2003 (2nd photo is 2003).
I liked the toilet signs

We then walked outside to the geology park.

In summary - I hope some attempt will be made to update the information and features in the museum. Also the information boards often showed poor English - this really needs to be improved, especially if foreign visitors start coming in larger numbers to view the museum.

Although the museum is located at Kota Tampan there is no information of where the original dig site was.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission