sign in a cave in Laos

4 July 2012

Lenggong Valley World Heritage site

On 30 June 2012 UNESCO announced that Lenggong Valley had been listed as a World Heritage site.

Lenggong is Malaysia's oldest archaeological site and is partly cave related. It is located in Hulu Perak, between Kuala Kangsar and Grik.

The first news reports came out on 1 July 2012, with a statement from the Information Communication and Culture minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim : UNESCO Declares Lenggong Valley World Heritage Site
July 1 (Bernama) -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared Lenggong Valley in Hulu Perak as a world heritage site, at its conference Saturday night.
Information Communication and Culture minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the discovery of ancient artifacts more than 11,000 years old from excavations at the valley by national archaeologists for the past 20 years led to the declaration.
"So now, we can add the Lenggong Valley to Penang, Melaka, Mount Kinabalu and the Niah Caves as heritage sites under UNESCO.
"This is a very meaningful achievement by the government and people which we can be proud of," he told reporters.
He said the ministry would collate and record all the data related to the discoveries to provide more information to the public.
Rais also said the ministry and Perak government would look into a joint study on the Lenggong Valley's socio, cultural and heritage development.

Unfortunately there were 2 big errors in this, as Niah is not a WH site - it should be Gunung Mulu National Park - and Penang and Melaka are counted as one site, not two. By the evening of the 2nd, most papers had published a new, corrected article.

Lenggong is Malaysia's oldest archaeological site and is partly cave related. Perak Man is the oldest complete and intact human skeleton to be found in Malaysia, dated at about 11,000 years old, it was found in 1991 in Gua Gunung Runtuh.

However the Perak Man skeleton is housed in the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. Now there are calls to take him home to Perak, and an updated version.

The Lenggong Musuem was opened in 2003.

Other caves in the Lenggong area have revealed items such as pottery, stone tools, jewellery and food remains. There are also cave paintings at Gua Badak, although these were made by modern' aborigines.

Kota Tampan, a non cave site, was considered the earliest known site of human inhabitation in Malaysia. Excavations revealed an undisturbed stone tool production area, where pebble tools were made. Some 50,000 pieces of stone were found and dated at 75,000 years. Then archaeologists turned to Bukit Jawa, just 6km away and this has been dated at 200-300,000 years old, which is therefore far older than the Kota Tampan workshop. Additional nearby sites at Kampung Temelong and Lawin are also thought to be 200-300,000 years old.

Bukit Bunuh, again not a cave site, was discovered in 2002. Initially finds were dated at around 40K years old. But now the area is said to be more than 1.86 million years old and considered the oldest Palaeolithic site in Southeast Asia. A hand axe made of quartzite rock was found embedded in layers of suevite caused by meteorite impact. This suevite rock was dated to 1.83 million years. According to UNESCO, Lenggong "spans close to two million years, one of the longest records of early man in a single locality, and the oldest outside the African continent".

© Liz Price No reproduction without permission

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