Liang Bua is a limestone cave in the Manggarai Regency of which Ruteng is the administrative centre. Although much of the regency comprises infertile limestones,some part of very suitable for paddy field cultivation and the area generally is known as “The rice bowl” of flores region.
As well as having rich natural resources,Manggarai regency also has a wealth of archeological sites. These include Liang Bua (Meaning,”Cold Cave” in the manggarai Languange), Which is located 14 km Nordwest of Ruteng, about 500 m Above sea level.
Liang Bua is ideal for human occupation, it is 50 m long, 40 m wide, and 15 m high at the dripline.The Wae (river)Racang and wae mulu rivers are about 200 m to the north ,and both contain stone artifacts and raw materials suitable for stone artefact manufacture, including silicified tuff, chalcdony, and chert.
The first scientific work at Liang Bua was undertaken in 1965 by father Theodorus Verhoeven, a catholic missionary based at the Mataloko seminary. He first visited the cave when it was being used as a local elementary school. His excavations yielded high concertrations of stone artefacts, burials and pottery, which proved the archeological potential ot the site.
After Verhoeven, the next excavation were undertaken by prof.R.P.Soejono from the indonesian National Research centre for Archaeology (now National research and development centre for Archaeology) between 1978 and 1989.
This showed that the site contained stratified cultural deposits spanning the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic,Neolithic, and Palaeo-Metallic periods.Radiocarbon dates from 3 metres depth also showed that the site was occupied by modern humans from at least 10.000 years ago.
The most recent excavation were undertaken as collaboration between Prof.R.P.Sujono and Prof.Mike Morwood (University of new England, Australia) between 2001 and 2004.
The field coordinator undertaken by Thomas Sutikna, Jatmiko and Wahyu Saptomo. This was an inter-disciplinary study that included specialist input from geology, geomorphology, palaeontology and palynology. It aimed to investigate the earliest occupation levels, and to obtain information on the site and its context.
These archaeological excavations reached a maximum depth of 10.7 metres without encountering bedrock. Beneath a layer of tuffaceous silts from a volcanic eruption around 11.000 years ago. The researchers found high concentrations of stone artefacts and hearths with the butcherred remains of Stegodon (an extintct type of elephant), Komodo dragon, tortoise, varanus rat and bird etc.
This evidence dates from 95.000 to 12.000 years ago and is associated with a new species of human : Homo Floresiensis . In fact , a skeleton found at 6 metres depth and dated to around 18.000 years ago, is the type specimen for this species. It was of an adult women aged 30, who stood about 106 ch high with a brain only 380 cc in size-compared with the modern adult average of 1200 cc.
This site therefore has great scientific significance for indonesian and world archaeology. It is a valuable educational and economic resource for local people.
Source: The National Research and Development centre for Archaeology
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