Thursday, 17 May 2007

Visit to Batang Ai

The first inspiration came during a visit to Batang Ai in Sarawak a few years ago when I had the opportunity to explore the rivers leading to the interior and visit the Longhouses of the Dayaks or Ibans. After arrival in the Kuching I visited the Sarawak Museum where I was especially attracted to the history of the Dayaks and their head hunting past illustrated by photos taken in the early part of the twentieth century. The museum presented the Iban way of life with a Longhouse rebuilt within the museum decorated with the every artifacts of used by its dwellers, including baskets of skulls, trophies of head hunring expeditions, which continued until the end of World War II. I was fascinated by these and the ancient human history of Borneo when the ancestors of the Dyaks arrived. I asked myself what they had found, or rather who they had found on arrival. From past visits to Indonesia and more specifically Solo the home of the fossil of Pithicanthropus erectus, discovered in Java by Eugene Dubois, I knew that very early man had lived in the region. This led me to wonder if Erectus had lived in Borneo, which was once part of a vast emerged region called Sundland when the level of the seas was much lower.