Liang Bua is the name of the karst limestone cave from which Flores Man (a.k.a. the Hobbit) was found. Liang Bua is located in the Wae Racang Valley on the western end of the tiny island of Flores in Indonesia. Within its deposits have been found both modern humans and the hominin remains somewhat controversially called "Homo floresiensis": it is currently the only known location for the recovery of H. floresiensis.
Liang Bua cave is about 14 kilometers (7 miles) north of Ruteng, the regional capital. It is 20 meters (65 feet) wide, 25 m (82 ft) high at the entrance and 40 m (131 m) deep. The cave was created by karst action 600,000 years ago, but evidence suggests that it was invisible from the surface until it was exposed by the Wae Rancang river about 190,000 years ago.
The earliest evidence for humans in the cave dates to 190,000 years ago, and it includes a collection of artifacts at the back of the cave. These were washed into the cave by the river, but they indicate the presence of hominins in the area. They are believed to have been artifacts made by Homo erectus, who first appeared on Flores Island beginning 840,000 years ago.
Two later occupations of the cave are associated with Homo floresiensis. The earliest, located near the center of the cave and along the west wall dates between 74 and 61,000 years ago. The more recent dates between 18,000 and 16,000 and is located by the east wall.
Finally, modern human skeletal remains were recovered from Liang Bua within Holocene levels, within the past 11-12,000 years or so), including six Neolithiic and proto-Metallic age burials with grave goods.. None of the bones recovered from Pleistocene deposits in Liang Bua cave appear to be modern H. sapiens, according to the research team. Homo sapiens first appeared in the region circa 55,000-35,000 years ago.
Artifact Assemblages at Liang Bua
The artifact assemblages from the H. floresiensis levels include a fairly sophisticated suite of stone tools, particularly within a level dated to ca. 74,000 years ago (+14/-12 ka) that contains stone artifacts with evidence of hard-hammer stone tool production. Raw material for the stone tools was mostly volcanic glass, with some marine limestone. The reconstructed stone tool manufacturing process is similar to sites of the same age found throughout Southeast Asia: a combination of off-site production of large stone blanks and on-site blank reduction. These methods were used by all hominids in southeast Asia around at the time: H. erectus, H. sapiens, and (assuming Flores is a separate species) H. floresiensis.
This article is a part of the About.com guide to the Flores Man.
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