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About Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

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Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley is a serial nomination consisting of two clusters, Cluster 1 and Cluster 2, separated by Lenggong town. It is located in a valley between two mountain ranges, the Titiwangsa Range and the Bintang Range. Cluster 1 comprises the open-air sites of Bukit Bunuh and Kota Tampan combined into a single core zone with its buffer zone. The other cluster, Cluster 2,comprises three core zones namely Bukit Jawa [bukit = hill], Bukit Kepala Gajah and Bukit Gua Harimau [gua = cave], all within a single buffer. Each of the clusters has its own buffer zone defined by land lots, natural features and contours of the ancient lake shorelines and river terraces where deposits of gravel may lie.

The world heritage site, which comprises both open-air and cave sites, provides a series of chronologically-ordered and spatially-associated culture sequences from the Palaeolithic through the Neolithic to the Metal period. These sites have been chronometrically dated from 1.83 million to 1,000 years ago. Thus, the Lenggong Valley is one of the longest archaeological culture sequences found in a single locality in the world.

The Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley also contains a large number of undisturbed in-situ Palaeolithic sites making it, in this respect, unique outside of Africa and of extraordinary importance for the study of the culture of Palaeolithic man. in-situ Palaeolithic sites are extremely rare because these sites can date back a few million years ago and over such a long time period, natural processes and human activities are bound to disturb the original archaeological context.

The extraordinary survival of early Palaeolithic evidence at Bukit Bunuh BBH 2007 in the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley is due to the fact that a meteorite strike 1.83 million years ago preserved many Palaeolithic stone tools in the melted suevite formed by the meteorite impact. This is an indirect evidence for hominid presence in the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley at 1.83 million years ago. Evidence for continued hominid presence in the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong valley is found in a long chronological series of in-situ open-air stone tool workshop sites extending from Bukit Jawa (200,000 – 100,000 years), to Kota Tampan (70,000 years), and to a later Bukit Bunuh BBH 2001 (40,000 years). Thus, Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley demonstrates hominid presence from as early as 1.33 million years ago.

Kota Tampan is a rare example in the world of a prehistoric site where the cause and date of site abandonment can be determined. Presence of ash from the last catastrophic Toba volcanic eruption in the in-situ Kota Tampan site suggests that man had to suddenly flee the site because of this major catastrophe around 74,000 to 70,000 years ago, leaving behind his tool-making ‘equipment’ and both finished and unfinished tools in the workshop.

Prior to the excavation of Kota Tampan in 1987, little was known about how prehistoric man made stone tools in Southeast Asia and it had been assumed that the lithic tradition in this part of the world was under-developed. Because Kota Tampan is an undisturbed Palaeolithic stone tool workshop, the association of artefacts (raw materials, finished as well as unfinished tools, and tool-making debris] is clearly visible. This assemblage of artefacts has revealed and made possible the identification and classification of multiple tool types with specialized functions and is evidence of a Palaeolithic lithic technology in Southeast Asia as sophisticated as anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, this in-siru stone tool workshop provides a means to understand the cognitive behaviour of the tool makers. Their choice of raw material, an understanding of lithology, and an efficient method of production reveal a rational and systematic approach to tool-making. This has made Kota Tampan an important global reference site for Palaeolithic stone tool-making.

Perak Man, buried in the cave site of Gua Gunung Runtuh, is the only prehistoric skeleton in the world born with a congenital deformity known as Brochymesophoiongio type A2. He is also the oldest, most complete skeleton found in Southeast Asia, chronometrically dated to 10,000 years ago. Extensive studies on Perak Man and his associated mortuary goods provide a very rare insight into Palaeolithic life, disease, belief systems and burial rituals. Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley is singularly significant for dating the earliest presence thus far known of prehistoric people in Southeast Asia. The undisturbed archaeological sites in the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley are exceptional because they preserve in-situ an outstanding record of the evolution of human cognitive complexity evidenced by the development of lithic tradition and stone tool technology over an extremely long culture sequence from 1.83 million years ago until the recent past.

These archaeological discoveries, all located within a single valley whose geology and environment have remained stable over the past 2 million years, provide important milestones in dating the presence of prehistoric people in Southeast Asia and impact on theories concerning the expansion of hominids throughout Australasia and the evolution of their stone tool cultures. This makes Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley a unique cultural landscape of outstanding universal value for the study and understanding of world prehistory.

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