Niah Cave skull dated at 45,000 to 39,000 Years Old

Niah Caves in Sarawak is an important prehistoric site where human remains dating to at least 40,000 years ago have been found. Archeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.

In 2018, scientists announced that modern humans or hominins had established themselves in Borneo — at Niah Caves — by 65,000 years ago, a figure that far exceeded the previous estimate of 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. This new timeline was determined after five pieces of microlithic tools dated to 65,000 years ago and a human skull dated to 55,000 years old were discovered in Trader Cave, part of the Niah Caves complex, during excavation work. The discovery makes Trader Cave the oldest archaeological site in Borneo and the oldest archaeological site with human remains in Malaysia. The cave also has provided the earliest reliably date arrival time for modern human – in Southeast Asia. [Source: Sam Chua, Borneo Post, October 22, 2018]

The Borneo Post reported: Established in 2017, the excavation work was a joint project between the Sarawak Museum Department and University of New South Wales to search for new archaeological evidence for early modern humans at the Traders Cave. University of New South Wales associate professor specialising in paleoanthropology and archaeology Dr Darren Curnoe explained that the microlithic tools were usually used by early humans to carry out their life activities. “Small pieces of rocks were sharpened and glued onto bones and woods to make barbs, spears and maybe even arrows,” he said during a talk at Sarawak Museum office here today. He added that the early humans living at the cave had a very sophisticated hunting technology and rich cultural life.

Evidence of the earliest known amputation was recovered from Liang Tebo Cave in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. According to Archaeology magazine: The successful surgery was performed on a teenager 31,000 years ago, when the person’s lower left leg was skillfully removed. It is believed that the patient survived the procedure and lived for another 6 to 9 years before succumbing to an unknown cause of death. The individual also displayed signs of a healed neck fracture and clavicle trauma, both of which may have occurred during the same event in which the leg was injured.[Source: Archaeology magazine, January 2023]

Niah Cave

Some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in Southeast Asia is Niah Cave in northern Borneo. Modern humans lived there 40,000 years ago and ate orangutans, based on the presence of charred bones found in the cave. A skull found in Niah Cave in the 1950s was first described as resembling Melanesians and native Australians. This supports the notion that earlier human species living in the region were absorbed via interbreeding as Homo sapiens spread out of Africa. Ancient genetic markers are found in indigenous groups in the Andaman Inlands, in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea and among Australian aborigines.

In the 1950s and 60s, Niah Cave was the focus of several intense and active archaeological field seasons led by Tom Harrisson, Curator of Sarawak Museum, who excavated a large area on the northern side of the West Mouth. The excavations were admirable for their time, particularly given the considerable logistical difficulties that had to be overcome because of the isolation of the site and the difficulties of working in tropical environments. [Source: ABC.net; Barker G, The Niah Caves Project: Preliminary report on the first (2000) season , The Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol 55(76), December 2000]

Their most notable discovery was a human female skull (the so-called "Deep Skull Lady") uncovered in a deep trench dubbed 'Hell Trench' by Harrisson's excavators because of the heat and humidity in this particular part of the cave's entrance. The skull was approximately at a level where stone tools had been found previously together with charcoal that yielded a radiocarbon date of around 40,000 years ago. But there are doubts about the reliability of the data collected and recorded by Harrisson.

40,000-Year-Old Cave Art Found in Borneo

Lubang Jeriji Saléh cave painting of a bull

In 2018, Borneo was added to a growing list of places with some very old cave art sites. National Geographic reported: Countless caves perch atop the steep-sided mountains of East Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. Draped in stone sheets and spindles, these natural limestone cathedrals showcase geology at its best. But tucked within the outcrops is something even more spectacular: a vast and ancient gallery of cave art. Hundreds of hands wave in outline from the ceilings, fingers outstretched inside bursts of red-orange paint. Now, updated analysis of the cave walls suggests that these images stand among the earliest traces of human creativity, dating back between 52,000 and 40,000 years ago. That makes the cave art tens of thousands of years older than previously thought. [Source: Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, November 7, 2018]

But that's not the only secret in the vast labyrinthine system. In a cave named Lubang Jeriji Saléh, a trio of rotund cow-like creatures is sketched on the wall, with the largest standing more than seven feet across. The new dating analysis suggests that these images are at least 40,000 years old, earning them the title of the earliest figurative cave paintings yet found. The work edges out the previous title-holder—a portly babirusa, or “pig deer,” in Sulawesi, Indonesia—by just a few thousand years (since this article was written older animal figures have bee n found in Sulawesi)

“In the entrance, there's a little chamber to the right, and it's there—bam,” says archaeologist Maxime Aubert of Griffith University. It's not the earliest cave art ever found. But unlike earlier scribbles and tracings, these paintings are unequivocal depictions of ancient animals, his team reports today in the journal Nature.

The bovines and handprints join a growing array of artwork of similar age that adorns the walls of caves around the world. These paintings mark a shift in how early humans thought about and engaged with their environment—from focusing on survival and daily mundane necessities to cultivating what could be the earliest threads of human culture, explains Paleolithic archeologist April Nowell of the University of Victoria. “I think for a lot of us, that's a true expression of human-ness in the broadest sense of that word,” she says.

Earliest Known Amputation — 31,000 Years Ago in Borneo

Evidence of the earliest known amputation comes from Liang Tebo Cave in East Kalimantan, Borneo Indonesia. Describing in a study published in September 2022 in Nature, the successful surgery was performed on a teenager 31,000 years ago, when the person’s lower left leg was skillfully removed. It is believed that the patient survived the procedure and lived for another six to nine years before succumbing to an unknown cause of death. The individual also displayed signs of a healed neck fracture and clavicle trauma, both of which may have occurred during the same event in which the leg was injured. The researchers concluded that the amputation was unlikely caused by an animal attack or other accident, as these typically cause crushing fractures. It is also unlikely the amputation had been carried out as a form of punishment, because the individual seems to have received careful treatment after surgery and in burial, according to the study. [Source: Archaeology magazine, January 2023]

Archaeologists located the skeleton in 2020 after returning to the site where some of the earliest rock art was previously found, searching for archaeological deposits that may overlap with this early rock art, Tim Maloney, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia and lead author of the study, said. The researchers "slowly and meticulously" studied the skeleton, removing the sediments surrounding the burial as well as laser scanning and photographing, Maloney said. Once it was excavated, it was "quite clear" that the skeleton's left foot was "entirely absent" and that an amputation occurred on the lower or distal third of their left leg, Maloney said. A paleopathologist confirmed the skeleton presented a strong case for matching clinical instances of deliberate amputation, Maloney said. Previously, the oldest known complex operation happened to a Neolithic farmer from France about 7,000 years ago, according to the study. The farmer's left forearm had been surgically removed and then partially healed.[Source: ABC News, September 7, 2022]

Tborno he finding was significant because amputations require a comprehensive knowledge of human anatomy and surgical hygiene, as well as significant technical skill, the researchers said. In addition, most people who underwent amputation surgery died from blood loss and shock or subsequent infection before modern clinical developments such as antiseptics, according to the study. In addition, the person who performed the amputation must have possessed detailed knowledge of limb structure, muscles and blood vessels to prevent fatal blood loss and infection, according to the study.

The findings suggest some early modern human foraging groups in Asia developed advanced medical knowledge and skills in the tropical rainforest environment in the Late Pleistocene period, which was connected to mainland Southeast Asia at the time that the individual who was found lived, Maloney said. The skills may have been required as a result of rapid rates of wound infection in the tropics stimulated the development of novel pharmaceuticals such as antiseptics, which were harnessed from the medicinal properties of the rich plant biodiversity in Borneo. "There's a very strong case we make for understanding of the needs for antiseptic and antimicrobial management to enable the patient this individual to survive," Maloney said.

Dating and Categorizing the 40,000-Year-Old Cave Art in Borneo

Maya Wei-haas wrote in National Geographic: Island locals have long known about these paintings, as they encountered the stunning works while hunting for edible bird nests. The artwork was eventually documented in the 1990s and later dated. But many samples were porous, Aubert explains, which notoriously gives ages older than reality. At the time, the team settled on a cautious minimum age of 10,000 years. Aubert and his colleagues ventured back to the caves in 2016 and 2017 to collect new, nonporous samples and retest the ages using the same method, which relies on the ever-present drip of water. As liquid percolates through the rock and sediments overhead, the water slowly dissolves both limestone and naturally occurring radioactive uranium. It then deposits the substances in calcium carbonate coatings on the cave walls. [Source: Maya Wei-haas, National Geographic, November 7, 2018]

location of the Borneo rock art caves

Uranium predictably degrades to thorium, and because water leaves this element behind in its wending path, scientists can measure the ratio of uranium to thorium to determine various features' ages. In total, the team analyzed 15 calcium carbonate samples from six cave sites, drawing from deposits on top of and beneath the drawings that sandwich the art in time.

The new dates seem to define three stages of Paleolithic artistry in the region, and they show a shift from depicting animals to showcasing the human world. The oldest phase is made up of reddish-orange images starting sometime between 40,000 to 52,000 years ago, including the bursts of color outlining ancient hands and the bovid-like animals. Dark purple images mark a second period timed to around 20,000 years ago. Many hands make up this phase, but they're ornamented with tattoo-like dots, dashes, and lines. Vine-like tendrils connect the hands together. Both red and purple pigments seem to be made of the same material, one may just be more weathered than the other, Aubert notes.

A slim, mulberry-colored human figure dating to roughly 13,600 years ago leads the art into the third phase. This period is dominated by black pigmented geometric shapes and stick figures engaged in activity, such as dancing, boating, and hunting. Found elsewhere across the island of Borneo, these black pigment drawings are thought to be just a few thousand years old.

Sangkulirang — Mangkalihat Karst: Prehistoric Rock Art Area

Sangkulirang — Mangkalihat Karst: Prehistoric rock art area (on the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula on the east coast of East Kalimantan) contains thousands of rock painting, some of which are over 5,000 years old. The site was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The property is situated in the midle-eastren part of East Kalimantan Province, at Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula. It contains thousands of red rock-art paintings, and some sites with engraving located at 35 sites in seven different karst mountain areas at the head of the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula (Merabu, Batu Raya, Batu Gergaji, Batu Nyere, Batu Tutunambo, Batu Pengadan and Batu Tabalar). [Source: Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia to UNESCO]

“More rock art made by hunter-gatherers is found in Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. This seems to indicate that for thousands of years, from approximately 5.000 years ago. Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula was an important meeting place in south part of the pre- Austronesian and Austronesian Migration.

The development of paintings in Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula through thousands of years can be related to the end-glacial to the post-glacial land upheaval. In Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula the changing landscape of prehistoric times is evident, and the position of the painting sites also provides a key to understanding the cultural area of rock a rt in the past, as well as the prehistoric chronological of Southeast Asian region.

Cave Paintings in Sangkulirang, East Kalimantan

the main Borneo rock art caves

Research by Jean-Michel Chazine has uncovered more than 1500 negative handprints at in 30 Stone Age caves in the Sangkulirang area of Eastern Kalimantan. According to initial dating tests they were created during the Mesolithic Period (10,000 to 8,000 B.C.) The Indonesian painted caves at Maros in Sulawesi are also famous for their hand stencils.

On two important cave painting sites, Jean-Michel Chazine wrote: “Located in the upper levels of gigantic and steep karst outcrops, these two groups of caves exhibit prehistoric paintings which are remarkable for their number, their pictorial content and their state of preservation. The first group comprises two caves situated in the middle of a cliff about 30 meters apart. They contain roughly 60 hand stencils concentrated in only two to three panels. The disposition of the stencils indicates the panels intentionally organized. [Source: Jean-Michel Chazine (CNRS-CREDO, France), World Archaeology Congress]

“The other group, 80 kilometers westwards, comprises three large chambers with at least 200 figures including more than 140 hand prints. More than 20 of them have anthropo-and zoo-morphic features in the form of linear or punctuated marks inside the stencil blanks. Moreover, painted on the roof of a “laminoir”, about one meter high, three bovine figures larger than one meter are to be seen. They seem to be clear representations of an almost-vanished wild small cow. The representations, at almost 1:1 scale, seems to be the first of their kind ever found. The next two features appear to be deer involved in a hunting scene, and are associated with some pairs of hand stencils.

“Paintings are located upon walls, alcoves or niches, from one meter to more than ten meters above ground level. Depending on location, some paintings are covered by a calcite layer of variable thickness. For example, one hand print is covered by a calcite flow up to 15 cm thick, which, whatever the formation conditions would have been, is an indication of extreme age. Locations do not yet show any specific disposition related to entry into dark places.

“Many anthropomorphic representations often appear inside hand prints blanks and sometimes in autonomous locations. In an especially remarkable case, anthropo- and zoo-morphic features are associated with a curvilinear track linking two hand stencils. The analogy with some expressions present in Australian Aboriginal art appears to be very strong and the ethnographic literature suggests the Borneo art in question may be read as some form of “initiates’ trek”. Some hand prints have internal linear tracks evoking tattooing figures like those still executed by Mentawi communities in the Siberut Islands (South Sumatra), as well as the “X ray” drawings frequently present in some Australian Aboriginal pictorial expression.

Several superimposed hand tracks show strong evidence for a chronology which is also revealed through the variety of pigments. Apart the black colour, we found at least four different colours varying from black-brown to light-red.

Within these two cave groups, the disposition of the hand prints appears to be well-organized, expressing deliberated rhythms. One or more circular moves mixing right and left hands are to be seen, showing clearly that ritual efficiency was associated with artistic expression. This organization in the display of these negative hand prints provides a very different expression than what until know has been known about rock art in Indonesia.

East Kalimantan’s Rock Art Culture

Jean-Michel Chazine wrote: “Let us recall that until 1994, when we discovered the first cave with unexpected prehistoric paintings, the whole of Borneo was considered by specialists as totally lacking in rock art. It was thought that paintings would not appear west of West Sulawesi (Leang Burung and Maros Caves mostly), eastward of Makassar Straits and Wallace Line. This view was based upon the fact that investigations had been carried out only in the Malaysian states of Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei. [Source: Jean-Michel Chazine (CNRS-CREDO, France), World Archaeology Congress]

“Year after year, caves we have discovered have provided growing inventory of pictorial expressions, attesting, amongst other things that their utilization was not for utilitarian habitation. The discoveries which have been made through an area bordered by the sea and the meridional bow of the Mangkalihat Range. This area may extend on the two sides of Wallace Line the culture-area that links the southeastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. The formal analogy between pictorial expression found in Australia and those which have just been discovered in Borneo reinforce that possibility.

“As a matter of fact, the Borneo discoveries means that diachronic schemes of cultural influence between the Asian and Australian continents are brought into some focus. In particular, the size of the extension but also the orientation of the trend of relationships on both sides of Wallace Line has to be more carefully approached and therefore needs more investigation. With origins probably predating the arrival of Austronesians into Borneo 4,000-5,000 years ago, that culture-area or a “Rock Art Culture”, could correspond to the period when climatic and marine changes occurred at the end of Pleistocene provoking the geographic isolation of the local insular communities.

Mountains where the Borneo art caves are located

Rock Art Caves in Borneo

After an expedition to a site called Ilas Kenceng in East Kalimantan, Luc-Henri Fage wrote in National Geographic, “During the past decade we've discovered about 1,500 negative handprints in 30 caves in East Kalimantan. Most of them were found not in the lowest caves beside rivers—which we know from archaeological evidence were used as dwellings as long as 12,000 years ago—nor in the caves higher up, where we discovered bones and ceramic jars from much later funerary rites. Instead, they were mainly found in the loftiest, hardest to reach caves, leading me to believe they were probably connected to special rituals open to a limited number of participants. [Source: Luc-Henri Fage, National Geographic, August 2005 ]

“As we know from studies of many cultures, such secluded, forbidden spots would be perfect for the instruction and initiation of traditional healers, or shamans, often involving fasting, dancing, singing, storytelling, the inducing of trances, or the painting of symbols. The large number of hands found in some caves may record the training of new shamans, maybe only one in each generation, over thousands of years.

“Handprints are a common motif in prehistoric rock art around the world. But unlike hands discovered at sites in France, Australia, and elsewhere, many in Kalimantan caves are decorated with dots, dashes, and other patterns, the significance of which is yet unknown. In some designs the hands are linked to other hands, or to drawings of people or animals, by long curving lines. Luc-Henri Fage sketched one design, which we called the "tree of life," from a painting in Gua Tewet. This design may depict the ties that bind individuals, families, territories, or spirits to one another. A similar pattern appears in a painting from Ilas Kenceng, which may show a shaman's path between the world of the living and the world of spirits or of the dead, perhaps hidden behind the cave's walls.

“A painting in Gua Tewet records a shaman's trek into the spirit world, Chazine says. The lizard in the center represents the shaman. The jagged line under the lizard—a sort of stairway—stands for the shaman's difficult path. The smooth lines on the right symbolize the successful completion of the journey, when the shaman attains an altered state of consciousness that affects all parts of his body and allows him to communicate with spirits. The hand stencils themselves evoke traditional healing rituals in which a shaman lays his hands on a sick person, then sprays medicine from his mouth onto the patient to cure him.

“I find a remarkable similarity between the act of creating these handprints and traditional healing practices in Borneo. To create the design, a painter would place a hand on the wall, then spray it by mouth with pulverized pigments made of ochre. A traditional healer would do much the same, laying hands on the affected part of a patient's body, then expelling his breath to spray on therapeutic ingredients. Both processes resulted in a kind of magic.

“Near the end of our expedition, after we'd spent many hours photographing, measuring, and documenting the paintings at Ilas Kenceng, I woke up one morning on my groundsheet in the mouth of the cave. The forest below was bathed in a soft morning mist, monkeys were screaming, and birds swirled in circles, feeding on insects. High above me in an alcove was a magical piece of art, six hand stencils spread like a bouquet. Each print was delicate, but together they seemed vibrant with energy as if they'd been created only moments ago. In 2000 a piece of calcite covering a hand in another part of the cave had been tested in a mass spectrometer at France's National Center for Scientific Research. It proved to be at least 10,000 years old, meaning that the hand beneath the calcite had to be even older.”

Bouquet of Hands in Gua Jeriji Saleh in East Kalimantan

Expeditions to Find Ancient Rock Art of Borneo

Luc-Henri Fage wrote in National Geographic, “A few steps ahead of me on the jungle trail, my Dayak friend and guide, Ham, suddenly stopped. "Careful, Luc, a snake!" he said. The rain had fogged my glasses, but I could still make out the big bluish black cobra he'd almost stepped on. A snakebite could have been deadly, since we didn't have any serum with us, and the closest clinic was two days behind us by foot, and another two days by boat. We stood in silence, listening to the patter of rain on the tropical forest as the cobra unfurled itself and disappeared into the bushes. [Source: Luc-Henri Fage, National Geographic, August 2005 ]

“We were heading for Ilas Kenceng, the most beautiful and inaccessible of all the caves we'd discovered in Borneo. When we first saw it in 1998, we had only a few hours to study its mysterious rock art before we had to hike out, leaving us with many unanswered questions: Who made these images? When? And why? Now we were on our way back to look for more clues. There were 35 of us in all on our French-Indonesian team, including archaeologists, cavers, guides, a film crew, canoe paddlers, porters, and a cook. We'd begun our expedition a month before on the coast of the Makassar Strait in East Kalimantan in the Indonesian part of Borneo. Pushing off into the chocolaty Bungalun River in ten heavily laden pirogues, we'd headed for a region where there are no roads or villages, only endless jungle and jagged limestone peaks. Our plan was to follow the Bungalun to its confluence with the Marang River, then continue north into the mountains, stopping along the way to investigate a string of caves with similar rock art.

Sitting on the duckboards of my precarious little boat, its gunwales inches above the waterline, I'd thought back to my first expedition here 17 years ago. A documentary filmmaker and magazine editor, I had set out on a 700-mile (1127 kilometers) trek from one end of Kalimantan to the other with a few caving friends. Halfway across the island, taking shelter under a rock, we found ancient charcoal drawings on the ceiling. When I returned to France, I was surprised to learn that no such rock art had ever been reported in Kalimantan.

“I returned in 1992 with Jean-Michel Chazine, a French archaeologist and specialist in Oceanian prehistory. Two years later we discovered prehistoric paintings in East Kalimantan. In 1995 Pindi Setiawan, an Indonesian anthropologist, joined our team, and together, year after year, we found dozens of caves with paintings throughout the region, some with unique designs hinting at a mysterious forgotten people.

To reach our target caves this year, we followed the meandering river along the jagged peaks of the Marang Mountains. There we set up camp beside a clear spring, stringing hammocks between trees. For his dinner, our cook roasted six-inch-long (15.2 centimeters) scorpions, which he said were good for virility. The rest of us preferred rice. The wind kicked up just before dark, shaking leaves from the forest canopy, and a tropical storm pelted down. Once it had passed, the red ants swarmed in, their bite as painful as wasp stings. Jufri, a Bugi guide who always seemed to think of everything, drove them away by lighting just enough gasoline under our hammocks. The next morning, back in our pirogues, we motored toward Gua Tewet, a cave named for one of our most experienced guides. For the past 40 years, Tewet had been searching caves in the region for edible birds' nests, a delicacy in great demand at Singapore and Hong Kong restaurants catering to wealthy Chinese. Several years ago he'd remembered the cave and told us about it.

Main entrance to Niah Caves

Exploring and Studying Ancient Rock Art of Borneo

Fage recorded 57 types of symbols found in hand stencils in Gua Tewet, 29 of which were found elsewhere. “It’s some kind of communication code,” he told National Geographic. On Ilas Kenceng, double lines my trace a shaman’s symbolic journey in which he meets a turtle and deer.

Fage wrote in National Geographic, “Leaving the boats at the river's edge, we hoisted our packs and scrambled up a 500-foot (152.4 meters) cliff of jagged rock to the mouth of the cave. Our muscles were burning, but the climb was worth it. The paintings inside were as breathtaking as when we'd first seen them in 1999: some 200 stenciled hands, remarkably preserved, along with drawings of animals and humans. About half the hands were covered with dots, lines, chevrons, or other patterns. I counted more than 50 combinations. "They look like tattoos," I said to Chazine. "Or maybe body painting," he replied. Such practices still occur in Borneo and elsewhere to identify an individual's membership or status. At the center of the ceiling was the cave's tour de force: 11 hands, each decorated with a different pattern, linked in a design that evoked a family tree (pages 32-4). Not far away, two hands, connected by a broken line, framed the figure of a lizard, or perhaps a crocodile. [Source: Luc-Henri Fage, National Geographic, August 2005 ]

"We're dealing with shamanistic practices here, I'm sure of it," Chazine said, "though I don't know what kind. This jagged line evokes passage from the harsh living world into the world of spirits, which only a shaman can enter and return from." Chazine had not come back to Kalimantan just to marvel at such paintings, however. As an archaeologist his job was to learn who created this art and when. Until now he hadn't found any signs of occupation in the best painted caves—no pottery or animal bones from campfires. But that didn't surprise him. In his mind, a lofty eagle's nest like this was better suited for sacred rituals. "Does one eat in a cathedral?" he asked.

“Instead Chazine had chosen a cave closer to the river to excavate first. That's where he and his team went the next day. With its huge porch over-looking the water, Gua Tengkorak, or "cave of the skulls," was large enough to hold dozens of people. Indeed, ceramic funeral pots from a more recent culture had been found at the foot of one wall, along with charred human and animal bones. For the next two weeks, Chazine, Julien Espagne, a French doctoral student, and Indonesian archaeologists Gunadi Mum and Nasruddin, would carefully sift through layers of earth, searching for artifacts. Two samples of charcoal were later dated back to 12,000 years ago. Such discoveries may eventually indicate that the people who left these prints and drawings were related to the Aboriginals who'd earlier migrated to Australia and created similar rock art.

“Leaving the archaeologists to their excavations, I set out on foot for Ilas Kenceng, some nine miles away, with Ham, Tewet, our film team, and Serge Caillault, my caving partner. By the time we reached the cave, however, Serge had developed a bad fever. This worried me, since my friend Guillaume Artur du Plessis, had died from leptospirosis during our trek in 1988. I wanted to evacuate Serge immediately. But when the rescue helicopter arrived, the pilot at first didn't want to put down in our makeshift landing zone. Finally he did, picking up Serge, who was later diagnosed with typhoid fever and treated with antibiotics. He pulled through just fine.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, except maps from Nature

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated April 2024

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.