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Ligabue Magazine n° 76
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Punans, Spirits of Dying Forest

Text by:
Maurizio Leigheb

Images:
Maurizio Leigheb - Archivio Ligabue

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Archaeological explorations carried out in the Niah caves in Sarawak have revelated the the first human settlements in Borneo date back at least 50,000 years. The oldest Southeast Asian Homo sapiens skull was discovered in the main cave in 1958 and is 35,000 years old. The remains of various extinct animals, once hunted by Palaeolithic men, were also found. It is unlikely, however, that the original inhabitants of these caves were the ancestors of the modern-day Dayak, the Old Malay ethnic group to which most of the native population belong. Around 4000 years ago the Old MAlays gradually began to populate the Malay Peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago and the Philippines, subduing, assimilating with and pushing the existing population inland where some residual groups still survive in isolated forest or mountain areas.

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This article is contained in
Ligabue Magazine 18

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