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Some items from the press relating to caves

Nah Cave vandalised
Thaipusam 2010
Gua Bewah Man
Fook Cheng Khoong temple vision
Mulu 2010 BCRA expedition
Marriott may take over Mulu Resort
Lenggong Valley proposed as World Heritage site
Niah Caves proposed as World Heritage site
Niah Cave Artefacts to come home
Ipoh museum archaeology exhibition
Bukit Bunuh
Sarawak River Delta Geopark

Niah Cave defaced by vandals

I was shocked to read this in The Star in Jan, and to see the photos.

STAR Metro North
Tuesday January 26, 2010

Vandals deface Niah Caves Need to enforce rules as it is becoming an eyesore

VANDALS have defaced one of Sarawak’s — and the country’s — most famous monuments, the Niah Caves, which is also among the world’s most important archaeological sites.

Visitors to Niah National Park, Miri, were shocked and disheartened by the work of vandals on the walls and rocks in the Great Niah Cave.

Graffiti, including obscene drawings, cover the boulders and walls. In one instance, the scribbling fills up the rocky surface of one corner of the cave.

Most of the graffiti is found a short distance from the cave entrance and written in English. It even includes the names of the people committing the irresponsible act, their countries of origin and date of visit.

This vandalism points to the need for enforcement to protect the historically valuable caves.

Sibu resident Steven Ling, who recently accompanied friends from Peninsular Malaysia on a visit to Niah, said the vandalism made the caves an eyesore. The Great Niah Cave is connected by a 3km wooden plank walkway to the park office.

Visitors are left to explore the caves on their own after registration and payment of a RM10 fee per person.

The caves are gated and no visitors are allowed beyond the opening hours.
Those involved in tourism in Sibu and Miri said the problem had been ongoing for a long time but nothing had been done about it.

They suggested that visitors be made aware of the rules through a briefing during registration, before being allowed to proceed to the caves.
Guards should be deployed to patrol the caves and offenders caught defacing the caves should be punished.

Visitors must be made to realise the importance of protecting the caves, they said.

More signs on the regulations should be erected at strategic points and pamphlets highlighting the rules and penalties should be handed out to visitors.

Niah Caves is located in the 3,138ha Niah National Park and is the most important prehistoric site in Malaysia.

The oldest human remains in South-East Asia, dating back to 40,000 years, have been unearthed there.

Rock paintings as old as 1,200 years are found in one of the caves, the Painted Cave.


Thaipusam 2010

Every year Thaipusam makes the news. One of the most important sites for this festival is Batu Caves. Here are some snippets of news relating to the festival which falls on 30 Jan 2010.

Star, Jan 22 :
The Thaipusam festival will see over 1.5 million visitors, including foreign tourists, flocking to the Sri Subramaniyar Swami Temple in Batu Caves next Saturday.
Over 10,000 Hindu devotees would throng the main streets in the city, carrying kavadis, milk pots and breaking coconuts, as a form of penance during the celebration.

Star, Jan 24 :
More than 1,000 police officers and personnel will be deployed round-the-clock for four days from Thursday in and around the Batu Caves Hindu temple area in Gombak for the annual Thaipusam festival which falls on Saturday.


For the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves on Saturday, KTMB will provide 208 special train services and 72 additional KTM Komuter trains from Friday to Sunday.

Bernama Jan 27: Action will be taken on troublemakers -
Police have issued a stern warning against anyone planning to disrupt or create chaos during the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves on Saturday. Police would not hesitate to take action on those involved in activities that could threaten the peace and public order. They would also take action on individuals who illegally impose parking fees in the area.

Star Jan 28: Tempers flare in Batu Caves -
Bidding for lots to set up stalls at Batu Caves for the upcoming Thaipusam festival reached fever pitch recently, with touts selling the permits for as much as RM1,500 and fights breaking out on the street outside the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) stadium where the lots were drawn. The MPS sells the lots for RM150 each but some successful bidders sell it outside for much more.

NST Jan 30:
A range of 24-hour services will be available for visitors to Batu Caves for Thaipusam starting yesterday until tomorrow. They can zip in and out of here and Batu Caves with ease using Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd's half-hourly service that started yesterday or the continuous flow of shuttle buses.

Numbers of visitors:
Varies, with local media quoting around 1-1.6 million, and overseas media quoting tens or hundreds of thousands.

Sin Chew Jan 30:
Huge crowds of devotees converged on the Batu Caves temple, a spectacular limestone cavern on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur that is expected to draw some 1.5 million people over the annual three-day Thaipusam festival.

Star Jan 31:
Over 1.6 million people — more than one million of them Hindu devotees — packed the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple Batu Caves, some as early as 5am, for the Thaipusam festival.

earthtimes.org and other foreign media wrote: Hundreds of thousands of devotees celebrated the Hindu festival of Thaipusam on Saturday, climbing steep steps to seek divine blessings at cave temple near Kuala Lumpur. Worshippers and tourists gathered at Batu Caves in the early morning to celebrate the colourful festival, which marks the birth of Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war and son of the goddess Shiva. Some 10,000 devotees demonstrated their vows to Lord Murugan.

NST Feb 1
Having hit the projected 1.7 million visitor mark yesterday evening, the Thaipusam crowd at Batu Caves is expected to swell throughout the night. Even after Lord Subramaniam's silver chariot left Batu Caves at 4pm for the Sri Maha Mariamman temple here to mark the end of the festival, devotees and tourists kept flocking to the cave temple. About 10,000 devotees followed the chariot back on foot.
The Thaipusam celebration last year lasted for a week, and this year, the temple management was ready to maintain the carnival atmosphere beyond today if necessary. Judging by the enthusiasm of the festival crowd this year, it would not be a surprise if the number of visitors to the Batu Caves temple surpassed two million.


8,000-year-old human remains found in Gua Bewah

Feb 6-8 the local and Asian and Australian media were all reporting on the bones found in Gua Bewah, at Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu. Here is the Star report from Feb 6 which is taken from Bernama.

Archaeologists stumble on 8,000-year-old skeleton in Kenyir Lake

HULU TERENGGANU: Archaeologists have stumbled upon human skeletal remains believed to be from the Mesolithic Age in the Bewah Cave in the Kenyir Lake area, according to a university professor.

The remains, believed to be those of a youth, are estimated to be between 8,000 and 11,000 years old, said Prof Datuk Dr Nik Hasan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman, deputy director of the Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation (ATMA) of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

The remains were uncovered by archaeologists from UKM, the Museums Department and the Terengganu Museum Board at a depth of 65 to 70 centimetres, he told reporters after a visit by Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said and reporters to the cave on Saturday.

DNA samples from the remains had been sent to the United States for analysis, he said, adding that the results were expected next month at the latest.

The find was the second in the Kenyir Lake area, the first one being in the Batu Tok Bidan Cave in 1975, he said.

Dr Nik Hasan Shuhaimi, who is heading the team of archaeologists excavating at the site, said pieces of pottery believed to date back to the Neolithic Age were also found there.

"Among the pieces of pottery are some bearing what resembles rock painting which researchers have dug up at sites of the Neolithic Age elsewhere in the country," he said.

Menteri Besar Ahmad said the state government would carry on with excavation to find other historical artefacts.

He said the artefacts found at the Bewah Cave would be framed in glass and kept for public viewing at the site, and not in a museum, in a move to draw more visitors to Kenyir Lake.

He also said that the cave would be closed to the public temporarily from Saturday to enable the excavation to go on.

Mar 10 Bernama reported :

"The human skeletal remains found in the Bewah Cave in the Kenyir Lake area last month are confirmed to be 16,000 years old, Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said on Wednesday.

"We received the results of the analysis from the United States stating that the remains were 16,000 years old. This makes them the oldest found in the country, following the discovery of the Perak Man dated 13,000 years.

"We will begin excavation in a week or two to find the skull, and we will retain the artifacts at the Bewah Cave (for public viewing)," he told reporters after chairing the weekly meeting of the state executive council, here.

The Bewah Cave has been temporarily closed to visitors to facilitate the excavation of historical artifacts."

If 16,000 years is correct, this makes the remains older than Perak Man.

See update Aug 2011 when he is said to be 13,400 years.


Crowd waits at cave for inspiration

The Star, 10 March 2010, reported that people were seeing a vision in a cave near Ipoh..........

Crowd waits at cave for inspiration by Foong Thim Leng

A crowd gathers outside the gate of the Fook Cheng Khoong temple in Bercham daily in the hope of getting four-digit numbers from a shadowy vision which appears in a cave nearby.

Hawker Chan Kwee Kheng said an elderly couple first noticed the vision while eating at a restaurant opposite the temple one morning before Chinese New Year.

The incident sparked off the imagination of her customers and residents who then started to gather in front of the restaurant each day.

“Some said the vision looked like a dog one day and that of a turtle another day. Today the vision looked like that of a snake to me,” she told The Star yesterday.

Chan said residents in the area had won money by correctly interpreting the vision and betting on the corresponding four-digit numbers found in the guide-book for lottery punters.

She said sceptics among the crowd said the vision that appeared between 10am and noon daily was merely a play of light reflected from pools of water found inside the cave during a particular period of the day.

However, the incident had aroused curiosity and the crowd in front of the temple is getting larger by the day.


Mulu 2010 BCRA expedition

The latest BCRA expedition to Mulu took place in March 2010. They focused their attention on the Southern Hills, doing a resurvey of the surface to plot the cave entrances. Scientific work was done in Clearwater.


Marriott may take over Mulu Resort

This report in Borneo Post on April 14 and taken from Bernama -

Marriott in talks to manage Mulu Resort

Marriott International Incorporated is currently engaged in talks to takeover the management of Mulu Resort, located near the world famous Mulu Caves, in the interiors here. Marriott International South Asia Area Vice-President Rajeev Menon said discussions were now on-going with Majupun Sdn Bhd, a Sarawak-based company which owned the resort.
Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Majupun, is currently managing Mulu Resort.
Menon said Miri Marriott, also owned by Majupun, was managed by Marriott International since June 2003.
The 188-room five-star resort, operating since the 1990’s, is designed after Sarawakian ethnic longhouses.


Seems everyone wants World Heritage status!!

Plans to propose Lenggong Valley as a World Heritage site

In Dec 2009 it was announced there were plans to nominate Lenggong Valley to Unesco as a world archaeological heritage site. This was in the news again in 2010, on 10 June, 24 June and 24 June, 25 Aug. It has been nominated by the National Heritage Department. Prehistoric Archaeological Heritage of Lenggong Valley is now on the tentative list of the World Heritage Convention.


Niah Caves Should Be A World Heritage Site

MIRI, Oct 29 (Bernama) -- The Niah Caves, located some 120 kilometres from Miri city, should be another world heritage site in Sarawak for its uniqueness, Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said here.

Speaking to launch an International Seminar on Bornean Archaeology here last night, he said by being a world heritage site, Niah Caves could enhance Sarawak's status in the world stage after similar accolade was achieved for the Mulu Caves.

He said archaeologists from as far as Nevada University in the United States had been showing their interests towards Niah Caves as early as in 1957 where 122 skeletons found were brought there to be studied. "Though they have prepared some reports on the burials (of the skeletons), none has been published. I would like to propose that the burials be brought back to Sarawak," he added.

He said the burials being the heritage of Sarawak and Malaysia should be brought home to facilitate researchers to carry out further study and analysis.

Taib said that he would seriously study the State Museum's requests for the organisation's restructuring process to accommodate more human resources for their research sections, in particular archaeology.

He said due consideration would be given on the museum's requirement of a proper artifacts collection centre so that the state's important heritage would be preserved better.

Hailing the effort to organise the international seminar, which grouped archaeologists from several Asean countries, Australia and the United Kingdom, he said such event should be held on a more regular basis.

"This would result in a clearer and complete picture of the past heritage of human race that used to inhabit and roam the Malay Archipelago," he added.

Federal Assistance For Sarawak To Bring Back Niah Cave Artefacts From U.S.

MIRI, Oct 30 (Bernama) -- The National Heritage Department will assist the Sarawak government to bring back artefacts from the Niah Caves that were brought out to the United States by Nevada University's archaelogists back in the 1950s.

The department's commissioner, Prof Emeritus Datin Paduka Dr Zuraina Majid, said Saturday night that they would be working closely with the Sarawak Museum and Nevada University to ensure the return of the artefacts.

Speaking at the closing of the International Seminar on Bornean Archaelogy here, she said this would be in line with Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud's recent remarks that the artefacts were an important part of the state's heritage.

Taib when opening the seminar on Thursday said 122 skeletons from the Niah Caves, about 120km south of Miri, were brought out to the United States by archaeologists from Nevada University to facilitate their studies.

He said although the archaeologists had made some reports on the findings, none of the reports were ever published.

Dr Zuraina said her department would also assist the state government in nominating Niah Caves, which form part of the Niah National Park, as a Unesco World Heritage Site.



"Perak's Contribution to Global Archaeology"

This exhibition was held at Ipoh's Darul Ridzuan Museum from 17-26 Dec 2010. It featured "our archaeology and global archaeology". The exhibition was jointly organized by USM’s Global Archaeological Research Centre and the museum. The archaeological sites in Lenggong Valley were featured, as this is one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. There were posters about the excavations. Ancient suevite rocks and stone tools were displayed in glass cabinets. The tools were found in Bukit Bunuh, Kota Tampan, Bukit Jawa, Gua Gunung Runtuh and Gua Teluk Kelawar and date to different periods. A short video showed the impact of the meteorite crash in Bukit Bunuh. There was also a replica of Perak Man. Rock art was also featured, but specific sites were not mentioned.
"The prehistory of Lenggong Valley dates back 1.83 million years, encompassing the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and the Bronze Ages. Prehistoric man had lived along the ancient Sungai Perak, a source of clean water, with an unlimited resource of pebbles for making tools. It was then savannah-like, a place rich in flora and fauna. Then, a meteorite crashed into “Bukit Bunuh” area, which started an inferno that destroyed most of the Palaeolithic sites. Due to the extreme high temperatures different rock types melted. When cooled they formed the suevite rock which is associated with meteorite impact craters. Stone tools, hand axes and chopping tools had been found embedded in such rocks, affirming the existence of prehistoric man in Lenggong Valley before the crash."


Bukit Bunuh
Bernama, June 03, 2010
"We are currently excavating in Bukit Bunuh in Lenggong, a new Palaeolithic site discovered in 2002. The area is more than 1.86 million years old, considered the oldest Palaeolithic site in Southeast Asia. There are 8 important projects carried out at the location, and it has a tremendous impact on the region. We hope to have this site recognized as a World Heritage in 2011," Zuraina stated.

Sarawak River Delta seeks Unesco geopark status

This report from Borneo Post, 25 Dec, is about the proposed geopark that will include the Bau caves -

KUCHING: The Sarawak River Delta is seeking recognition as the state’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) geopark.
The geopark will cover areas from Bau to Santubong along the Sarawak River.
“The area has been chosen to be submitted as a geopark based on many factors, including geological factors, human habitation and the existence of various cultures in the state,” said Minerals and Geoscience Department state director Dr Kamaludin Hassan yesterday at a technical talk organised by the department.
“We are at the stage of collecting data and getting input from government agencies that are related to this study, before presenting it to the United Nations for endorsement next year.”
Unesco defines a geopark as a territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological and cultural value.
Meanwhile, Minerals and Geoscience Department director-general Datuk Yunus Abdul Razak said the department was also trying to establish a geopark at Mount Kinabalu.
“The first geopark in the country was Langkawi. That took scientists 12 to 15 years trying to build up the case and getting the sanction from local and state authorities.
“Under the Unesco International Network of Geoparks, a geopark is not just established and recognised but must be proven to Unesco that it involves the community and promotes sustainable development in order to maintain the status,” he explained.
There was also a need to continuously create public awareness of preservation and conservation.
“We will work closely with government agencies and even universities to maintain the area. We may even package it together with other activities such as geo-tourism or eco-tourism.
“A geopark is significant economically as people will keep coming back to the place, for example, Langkawi. The number of tourist arrivals before and after getting geopark status, is a clear indicator of the economic benefit,” said Yunus.