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Niah Caves

Niah Caves

 

 

 

Location: Sarawak, Borneo  Map

Park Office: Open 8am- 5pm

 

 

 

Description of Niah Caves

 

Niah Caves National Park are located in the district of Miri in Sarawak province on the North part of the Borneo Island. The closest city is Batu Niah town about 2 miles South of Niah Caves. This beautiful natural passageways were created by water flow in the limestone mountains 20 million years ago during Early Miocene. You can get to Niah Caves by taking a trail from the park headquarters to the entrance to the caves. It is fairly easy 3.5 km (2 miles) hike through a Malaysian rainforest. You need to cross a river in a small boat until you reach Visitor Center. The entrance if free and it is open between 8am- 5pm. You can rent a source of light (flashlight or a torch) if you want to go deeper inside these natural underground passages.

 

Besides its natural beauty Niah Caves are also a site of some of the most spectacular and interesting findings of early human settlement in the region. Archeological digs under supervision of Tom and Barbara Harrisson in 1954- 67 reveals that humans inhabited Niah Caves as early as 40,000 years ago. Their most significant find was a fossil of an anatomically modern human skull that became known simply as the "Deep Skull". It was an oldest human burial on the island of Borneo. Other findings include burials, cave paintings, canoes and various tools. Ancient people apparently assumed that Niah Caves were entrance gates to the World of the dead. They brought their dead ones in small canoes that served them as coffins and buried them here with all the items that they needed in the after life, pottery, jewelry, sea shells and other items. Their bodies were painted by natural pigments collected from a Pterocarpus indicus, a type of the local deciduous tree. Additionally rock paintings were made on Niah Caves walls. These figures are mysterious and scientists have hard time interpreting. But it is likely that these were used in religious practices or were made to commemorate the memory of those who were buried here.