Talk:Niah National Park

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Cave size[edit]

I removed the statement that this is "one of the largest limestone caves in the world." That's nowhere near the case as it doesn't even make the top 282 caves by length shown on the World Long Cave List [1]. I haven't seen a survey but I walked through all of it and I doubt it is more than a kilometer in length. --Dave Bunnell 22:30, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

This false statement was restored at some point, but I just removed it again right now. Dowcet (talk) 16:23, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Cham people[edit]

The entry on Niah Caves is very incomplete and contains questionable facts. In particular I have not come across that the Chams from Vietnam settled in the cave.60.52.17.25 13:53, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the above comments. I also have no idea about the Vietnamese Chams settling there. Anyone have any references? Cavingliz 12:22, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
Does anyone have the March 2006 issue of National Geographic, the only reference in the article? If any of the information isn't in the article, then it's unsourced. (I checked my collection, and it only goes back to May 2006.) Alohasoy 13:48, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

I don't have the Nat Geo ref. I found it on Nat Geog archives, and it doesn't specifically mention Niah at all. However there is a map of human migration for the Mar 06 issue, and that map shows Niah, but there's no text. http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0603/feature2/index.html

I'm happy for the reference to the Chams be removed as it doesn't seem relevant in an encyclopedia article. Also the Nat Geog ref could also be removed as it's not relevant to Niah. Cavingliz 03:01, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

I've removed both the Cham sentence and the reference. Alohasoy 23:06, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Niah Cave archeology[edit]

I had added the Cham reference as I had tripped over this info more than once when trying to get info on the austronesian migration routes in generall and about the malayic languages in detail. I dont think the caves were used 4 to 2 thousand years ago as a place to live in but rather to bury the dead. This is where I wish for more information, as no iron age settlements the dead may have belonged to seem to have been excavated in the region. Seeing how my remark on the Cham at Niah has spermed all over the net I wonder what source generated the idea in the first place. If it is true though this would be very important for the history of iron age Borneo and Vietnam as well as for the migration routes of the austronesian language as for the origin of some iron age technics in Vietnam. Of course this may be rather unrelevant for the geology of the cave or its unique flora and fauna. Here are some pictures of the cave. Maybe we should ask if we could use some for the article. Here is some info on more recent excavations and the history of the caves. I'll keep on hunting so the next time I'll have sources, though as the second link states, not much seems to have been published as of yet :-( --T.woelk 03:59, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
I added the link to the history of Niah Caves page. Alohasoy 10:27, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Niah caves were definitely used for occupation and not just burials from 40,000 years ago. Ref - Encyclopedia of caves and karst science. The piece was written by a noted archaeologist. Since Tom Harrisson's work in the 50/60's, much more recent work has been done, and publised in the Sarawak Museum Jnl. In Sabah there is evidence of caves being occupied from 30,000 years ago. The danger with the internet is that so many people copy info, and if anything is wrong, it gets spread all over the net. Cavingliz 09:23, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Hm? All human relicts of all time periods from 30,000 years ago to the neolithic and iron age periods to the usage in the last 2000 years was always an occupation as in: the people used the caves as main dwelling place? (to exagerate a little - besides please note the difference in time from thirty thousand to two thousand years ago, cultures and usage of caves may have been different during different times) I would consider this probable from the stoneage evidence of 30,000 or 40,000 years ago until the neolithic times (whenever that was exactly in the region), but at least from the iron age onwards I'd think the main usage was as a sacred and burial place with only few if any permament residents while the majority of the population of that time lived someplace near a river with land suitable for the agricultural skills of that time. The thing is besides from the impressing very old finds, I think the more recent stuff that may be only 4000 or 2000 years old like all them burial jars, is also very interesting but much less talked about on the net.... Well living in Germany I'll have to invest some time on trying to trace some copies of the "Sarawak Museum Journal" that I can read....or hoping some Sarawak Museum guy volanteers some info to the wp ;-) --T.woelk 13:34, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Heres a source from this page concerning the boat-coffins found in the region including Niah (in the text, near the picture of the dongson drum):

  • [8] D. Ziegler, “Entre ciel et terre: le culte des ‘bateaux-cercueils’ de mont Wuyi”, Cahiers d’Extrême-Orient, no 9, EFEO Kyoto, 1996-97, pp. 203-31; T. Harrison, “The Great Cave of Niah: A Preliminary Report”, Man, No 57, 1957, pp. 161-66. --T.woelk 13:59, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

The link added by Alohasoy is good as it's relatively detailed. Graeme Barton et al have had a series of Niah Cave Projects starting in 2000 and publish annually in the SMJ, as well as places like Procs Prehistoric Soc. Incidentally there is a river at Niah. Cavingliz 02:32, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Ok, got to find some "Procs Prehistoric Soc", whatever that may be. You mean the river thats an hours walk or more on the plankway from the caves entrance? Things may have changed since I last visited the caves in the seventies but I dont recal a river "near" the caves. Where "near" means easily accesable by foot (not an hours wading through swamps) and "river" a body of drinkable water that flows all year round in an usable amount, preferably with enough water to support at least small boats. Thinking of this though I do wonder what those people that buried their dead in jars at Niah did eat and what plants they cultivated. Besides the clues from the "history" article anything reliable on this?--T.woelk 08:27, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Attempt at a timeline for Niah Cave occupation[edit]

Just found this source: Asian Perspectives, Volume 44, Number 1, Spring 2005 Special Issue: The Human Use of Caves in Peninsular and Island Southeast Asia. from these quotes:

  • "The results suggest that during the earlier period of human presence in the Great Cave of Niah(earlier than ca. 45,000 B.P. until ca. 38,000 B.P.), the climate was episodically wet with much longer periods of relative dryness. During the later period of human occupancy (ca. 19,500 B.P. to ca. 8500 B.P. [uncalibrated]), the evidence is less secure and a slightly moister climate is suggested."
  • " Over 200 primary and secondary burials, classified as pre-Neolithic and Neolithic, have been recovered since preliminary excavations began there a half-century ago."
  • " In the mid Holocene, when the landscape surrounding the cave was more similar to that of today, the primary use of the caves was for burials: the West Mouth of the Great Cave in particular was the location for an elaborate Neolithic cemetery that was characterized by a considerable degree of formal planning through its ca. 2500-year life. However, Neolithic people may also have used the West Mouth for habitation, as they certainly used other entrances of the cave complex. Based on present evidence, their subsistence base appears to have been forest foraging, though they were in contact with rice farmers."

I conclude three main periods of occupation beeing

  • 1.earlier than ca. 45,000 B.P. until ca. 38,000 B.P.
  • 2.ca. 19,500 B.P. to ca. 8500 B.P. [uncalibrated] (Climate change after the flooding of the Sunda Shelf?)
  • 3.Some 2500 years around the turn from pre-Neolithic to Neolithic. (Austronesian?)

In the last period the main use of the West Mouth of the Great Cave was for some 200 burials, although some habitation is possible. Does somebody have acces to the pdf pages to verify this and add more info? Is there any connection to the Hoabinhian industry or the Sa Huynh culture that also buried their dead in jars (this may be the initial connection made to Niah)?--T.woelk 09:46, 9 May 2007 (UTC)



'The river that is an hours walk from the plankwalk' - remember that this is the modern day plankwalk, which starts from the modern day Park HQ. The river actually goes close to Gunung Subis.

Harrisson 1964 wrote : the outer part of [Niah] mouth was used primarily for frequentation in the Neolithic and for regular habitation in the earlier phases of stone age (Paleolithic- Mesolithic)

The people ate the bats and birds. The people had hunting dogs and there were plenty of wild mammals/reptiles in those days. Harrisson and Medway have researched the food bone remnants. They found charred fruits, nuts, legume, tuber starch grains, fragments of primates, pigs, birds, bats, rodents, turtle, fish, snake, and freshwater stingray. They also had sago (they were eating sago 28,000 years ago in New Guinea area). Rice of course came much later.

Barker et al have a paper on prehistoric foragers and farmers at Niah, PPS 2002, 68. Cranbrook 2000 talks about scrub, bush and swamp surrounding Niah. Cavingliz 12:35, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Deep skull[edit]

Further examination and conclusions about the Deep Skull: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fevo.2016.00075/full Kortoso (talk) 23:13, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

More links[edit]

A satellite image is here and some detailed maps of the region and the cave layout.--T.woelk 21:53, 9 May 2007 (UTC)