The oldest human skeleton found in Malaysia was in the state of Perak in Peninsular Malaysia. Its exact location is at Gua Gunung Runtuh, a cave of his final resting place situated in Bukit Kepala Gajah or Elephant's Head Hill in the Lenggong Valley of Ulu Perak. The skeleton was a male with a height of approximately 157cm, aged 50s. It was discovered in 1991 and the skeleton has been dated to around 11,000 years old. In 2004, another skeleton was found at Gua Teluk Kelawar in Lenggong, Perak by a team of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) archaeologists. This time it is a 'Perak woman' of 148cm in height and was believed to aged 40s.
The Perak Man dates to about 11,000 years before present, and is one of the most complete skeletons for this time period in this region.
I have gone through Lenggong many times as it is on the way to the town of Grik, on the route from Kuala Kangsar, Perak to Jeli in Kelantan. Practically it is on the main road to an fro Perak to Kelantan. But I don't remember if I have even checked the archeological museum there even once. It's only in my latest trip to Perak that I actually felt the urge to look around...
Once upon a time, I would have very excited about this visit. After all, I was very hooked to dinosaurs and stories of cavemen since I know how to read, when I was around 5 or 6. But since I'm about 18 and since I started questioning all the scientific knowledge I had, I have changed tack. If once upon a time, I truly believed the so-called "scientific facts" stating that mankind are descendants of cave men who don't know how to read and had to live in the wild with little command of any languange, in the last 5 years or so I have totally discarded these notions...
This followed my renewed faith in the role of Adam and Eve as the father and mother of mankind as has been thought in the Islamic holy book the Quran and also in the Bible. If once I thought they were sent down to earth from heaven with a very primitive outlook on things, later I learned that actually men started existing on earth with very advanced culture due to the fact that Adam and Eve had retained some knowledge on the workings of things from heavan.
It's just generations later there were descendants of Adam who for whatever reason ran away from the main cultured body of mankind and was led astray... They are the ones who became the cavemen, just like those the truant among us who decided to run away from civilisation and into the jungle might turn out lacking in culture over time...
Makes one wonder why this replica of a bronze bell is prominently exhibited in Lenggong when one, the bell originated from Muar, more than 400km down south... And second, the bell is estimated to have been made in the year 150 AD while the archeological museum here centres its exhibits around the Perak Man and ancient remains of things said to be 11,000 years old and above...
Oh... Here's more excerpt from the Wikipedia...
Forensically speaking, the Perak Man was probably a man – we can’t tell for sure because his pelvis wasn’t well preserved. That’s the surest way you tell whether a skeleton was male or female, but a lot of the other bones exhibited strong male characteristics so he was probably Perak Man rather than Perak Woman. He shared the characteristics of an australomelanesoid, which is the kind of humans you find in Australia, Papua, Indonesia and some parts of Malaysia. He wasn’t very tall, he stood about 154 cm, which is about 5 feet. The bones that were found deposited near him were identified to have come from wild boar, monkey, monitor lizard and something called the rusa, which is a kind of deer, and are thought to be food deposits. As for the stone tools, there were about ten of them scattered around the body, and most of them were pebble tools and some hammer stones.
There were two significant facts about the Perak Man skeleton. The first was that he had a malformed left hand, meaning his left arm and hand were much smaller compared to his right arm and hand. This deformity could be from a genetic disorder known as brachymesophalangia. This evidence is further supported by the fact that his spine is curved towards the right due to living with only one good hand. The second interesting fact about the Perak Man was that despite his handicap, he lived to be about 45. This is considered a ripe old age for his time period. And especially when you consider that he might have been a hunter-gatherer, with only one good hand you can’t really hunt or gather very well and so living to 45 with that kind of handicap is pretty exceptional.
Here's a map on the district of Lenggong, north Perak. Here, it is said that there are many archeological sites showing the existence of societies of pre-historic men... And a take from Wikipedia on the archeological sites...
Malaysia is considered a very young country archaeologically with a very recent prehistory. In Africa, the predecessors of the human species originated about 3 - 5 million years ago. Their descendants migrated out of Africa and their prehistoric remains have been found all over Europe and Asia. Both Java Man and Peking Man date back to about 300,000 years ago. In Malaysia, the earliest remains is a human skull found in the Niah Caves in Sarawak and dates back some 40,000 years. In Semenanjung (Peninsula) Malaysia, the story is even more recent and starts in Lenggong about 31,000 years ago. Incidentally, many people think of the Bujang Valley in Kedah as being one of the oldest sites, but its history only stretches back about 1,500 years. All the archaeological remains found in Lenggong have been associated with caves. The two exceptions are the Kota Tampan and Bukit Jawa sites. These two are Peninsular Malaysia's only Palaeolithic sites.
Kota Tampan is the earliest known site of human inhabitation. Excavations at Kota Tampan which began in 1938 revealed an undisturbed stone tool production area. Pebble tools were made using equipment such as anvils and hammer stones. Some 50,000 pieces of stone have been found and recorded. The culture at Kota Tampan is referred to as Tampanian. The workshop was initially dated at 30,000 years old, but this figure has now been revised to 75,000 years. Although the Kota Tampan workshop site is currently on a hillside, and in an oil palm plantation, the original site was on a lake shore. It is thought that the workshop was disbanded around 30,000 years ago due to a volcanic eruption at Lake Toba in Sumatra, some 250 kilometres away. There is a large gap of some 17,000 years between Kota Tampan and the next archaeological site, Gua Gunung Runtuh. There is speculation that the Lenggong area became unsuitable for human habitation during this period.
More recently, a team has been excavating a site at Bukit Jawa, and this has been dated at 200,000 years old. Bukit Jawa is therefore far older than the Kota Tampan workshop, which is just 6km away.
The Lenggong Valley in upper Perak, is an important archaeological site where evidences of human settlement from the Palaeolithic age were found. Important archaeological sites include Kota Tampan, Bukit Jawa at Kampung Gelok and Kampung Temelong. The most famous archaeological findings in Lenggong was Perak Man, the 11,000 years old human skeletal remains which was discovered in 1991. 100,000 year-old stone tools have been excavated at Kampung Geluk and Kampung Temelong. There has also been proof that Gua Harimau was a site of bronze manufacture during the Bronze Age. There is also the Lenggong Archaeological Museum at Kota Tampan where artifacts excavated from the area are displayed. The museum is located within an oil palm estate on the road from Kuala Kangsar to Gerik (or Grik).
Lenggong's prehistory extends back to the Palaeolithic or old Stone Age, but most sites are more recent, from the Neolithic or new Stone Age. The Palaeolithic period occurred from 2 million - 10,000 years ago, and the people at that time were the first tool makers, who lived by hunting and gathering. During the new Stone Age the tools had been improved, and pottery was used, and the people practised farming. All the archaeological remains found in Lenggong have been associated with caves, with the exception of Kota Tampan and Bukit Jawa. There remain Peninsular Malaysia's only Palaeolithic sites.
Gua Gunung Runtuh is situated in Bukit Kepala Gajah or Elephant's Head Hill. In the same hill other caves have yielded archaeological remains such as stone tools and food remnants, but no more skeletons. The caves were probably used as temporary shelters as seasonal or hunting camps, whereas Gua Gunung Runtuh was lived in for longer periods. The next oldest site is Gua Harimau or Tiger Cave. It is about 3 kilometres away from Gua Gunung Runtuh and is an isolated site, and was probably used as a burial ground some 5000 - 3000 years ago.
Seven human skeletons have been found (but no tiger bones), also bronze axes, and various articles of jewelery such as chains, bangles, earrings and bead lockets. The bronze axes show that there was an early Bronze tradition in Malaysia, as well as in north Thailand and China. It is the earliest use of metal in south-east Asia. Porcelain containers of various shapes and sizes were also found containing meat and siput shells (a generic name for snails). Archaeological digs in other caves have revealed pottery, axes stone tools and flakes. Also food remains, and in some sites, human bones. Unfortunately some caves have been disturbed by guano diggers and any remains have therefore been lost.
Gua Puteri is a natural tunnel which pierces Bukit Kajang. There are no archaeological findings here, but instead the cave is known for its legends. Two stalagmites are believed to be a prince and princess who guard the cave. Locals say that if children climb up the stalagmites they will fall sick. Negrito cave drawings have been found at various sites but are not prehistoric, as they are only about 100 years old.
Gua Badak is one of the main places for these drawings, situated about 10 kilometres north of Lenggong. The Negritos are one of the aboriginal tribes of Malaysia. The Lanoh Negrito made the illustrative recordings of their every life. The charcoal drawings were first discovered and documented in the 1920's by Ivor Evans. They were then thought to have been lost by quarrying, but were rediscovered in 1992 and hopefully will now be preserved as a national heritage. Luckily most of the drawings survived the blasting, although some are missing, believed destroyed. And unfortunately modern graffiti covers some of the original drawings.
Unlike cave art at places such as Lascaux in France, which date back some 15,000 years, the Negrito drawings are "modern" art. The Negritos used the caves as shelters during hunting trips. The sketches depict tribal art such as animals, people, trees, mats, and even bicycles and motorcars. Apart from the charcoal drawings, they made white pictures by scrapping away the limestone rock. The drawings are simple, featuring matchstick men. There is a man carrying a pole laden with coconuts. A bow and arrow symbolize the hunting tools which were replaced by the blowpipe. There are men on horses, a man with an elephant, a hunting party. Animals such as leaf monkeys, monitor lizards and porcupine all made for a good meal and were therefore illustrated.
The Lanoh Negritos are still found in Perak today, generally working on rubber and oil palm estates, although some do still hunt. They are formed into six tribes. Most of the old troglodytes or cave dwellers of the Malay Peninsula temporarily lived in caves and rock shelters. They lived mainly by hunting, evidence shown by the remains of animal bones and molluscs. The people may have painted their bodies using red iron oxide. They used stones and slabs for grinding up substances such as salt, and all their tools were made of stones. Flakes were used as knives or scrappers. So it can be seen that the Lenggong area is very important as it contains much evidence relating to the prehistory of Malaysia. It is the oldest area where remains have been found, and all the sites are situated conveniently within a small area.
Hmm... Once upon a time all this information would have blown me up in wonderment and awe. But now I just take it in stride as the history of the world interpreted by those who refused to believe that there is such a thing as a God who created Adam and Eve perfect in His image...
Thus my further take on what's shown at the museum... Just look at the picture above... Astounding for those who really believed that mankind started very primitive and raw... "Oh... Look, they knew how to make drawings 100,000 years ago!"... Hogwash to me now.
Anyway, I do like the drawings. Reminds me of the character Cicak Man (literally translated as the lizard-man) which was featured in Malaysia's first superhero movie. Enough of my take. Good night! :]