Sarawak to bring ancient Niah Cave skeletons back from the US

KUCHING (Bernama): Sarawak’s Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry plans to bring back more than 100 ancient human skeletons about 40,000 years old, excavated from Niah Caves and currently in Florida, United States, by next month at the latest.

Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the skeletons were kept at the University of Florida and he would be there to arrange the shipment of the bones back to Sarawak.

“It is hoped that the ancient human skeletons will be brought here (Sarawak) in February or March, ” he said in his speech while officiating the 5th Annual Ponggal Harvest Festival organised by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam in Sarawak, in Tebingan Kuching here Sunday (Feb 2).

He said the ancient bones were found in the Niah Caves when Sarawak Museum’s first curator Tom Harisson carried out excavation work at the cave between 1957 and 1967 but Sarawak had no university to conduct further research on the discovery at that time.

More than 200 ancient human skeletons were found at the western entrance of Niah Caves, of which 122 were transported by ship to the University of Nevada in the United States for research purposes.

Abdul Karim said the University of Nevada later sent the bones to the University of Florida which was also keen on doing research on the skeletons and then kept them there after the studies were completed.

“Fortunately when we checked our archives, the bones were found to be on loan (to a US university), so we wrote to them saying we wanted them returned, ” he said.

He said more than 100 ancient human bones were expected to be on display at the newly completed Sarawak Museum Complex, which is currently undergoing renovation work and was expected to open later this year. – Bernama

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