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THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

U Aung Thaw
Introductory
Although Burma prossesses a potential wealth of stone-age materials prehistoric research was done very spasmodically. Polished stone implements of different size are often found on the ground surface in many parts of the country but they usuelly fall into the hands of those collectors who believe in the superstitions attached to the socalled ‘thunderbolts’. The first to draw their attention in Burma as prehistoric implements appears to be W.Theobold of the Geological Survey of India, who in 1873, recognized certain remarkable peculiarities of the polished stone implements from Burma. Among the few persons who later took interest in such stone implements was T.O Morris Who made an intensive study of the neolithic tools in Upper Burma. However, the first systematic exploration of prehistoric sties was made only in 1937-38 by the American South-East Asiatic Expedition for Early Man led by Dr.Hellmut de Terra and Prof. Hallam L.Movius. The Collected materials from Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites on the terraces along the middle course of the Irrawaddy and explored some caves in the Shan States. As a result of the study of those materials the palaeolithic culture of the region was properly recognized and was named the Anyathian culture. The caves in the Shan States, however, were superficially investigated and on finding traces of neolithic occupation only the expedition did not excavate in them as their object was to study the early, i.e. palaeolithic man in Burma.

I-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1)

I-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1)

II-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1) (Man On Scaffolding Copies The Paingtings On The Wall)

II-VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (1) (Man On Scaffolding Copies The Paingtings On The Wall)

III-INTERIOR VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (2)

III-INTERIOR VIEW OF PADAH-LIN CAVE (2)

Appreciating the need for systematic exploration and excavation the Archaeological Department has chalked out a programme for the exploration of river terraces and open sites. However, the unveiling of ancient city sites comes to the forefront and still claims the all-out efforts fo the few available hands on its staff. Fortunately, the first prehistoric expedition could be launched at the instigation and support of the Central Organization Committee Headquarters of the Burma Socialist Programme Party. An expedition team composed of research workers drawn from the Archaeological Department, the Burma Historical Commission and the departments of Anthropology, Geology and Zoology of the Rangoon Arts and Science University together with representatives from the Party headquarters was organized by the Party to explore the Padah-lin caves and it was able to set upon its task on the 9th January 1969.

FIG (4) REPRODUCTION OF PAINTINGS IN CAVE (1)

FIG (4) REPRODUCTION OF PAINTINGS IN CAVE (1)

The existence of what look like prehistoric paintings in one of the cave of Padah-lin was first discovered by a geologist, U Khin Maung Kyaw, sometime in 1960. Recently it was brought to the notice of the Party heandquarters which felt the need to substantiate the fact for incorporation in the basic political history of Burma being compiled by the Party. A preliminary survey of the caves was conducted bye the Party headquarters before the main team commenced work. The Archaeological Department took the responsibility to organize excavation in the caves which is the main function of the expedition.

The Caves

The locality in which the caves are situated is a submontane region west of the Shan Plateau falling within the Panlaung Reserved Forest area classified as a fairly dense jungle with bamboo. They lie close to the north of the packtrack from Nyanunggyat to Yebok village in Ywangan or Yengan Township in Taunggyi district, Southern Shan State, the distance from Nyaunggyat (Latitude 21 6 1/2′ N Longitude 96 18′ E) being 4 miles and from Yebok 1 mile.

To the east of Yebok rises the Nwalabo range with peaks over 4500 feet high. The caves are in the spur of a foothill 1000 feet above sea level. The Yebok stream, a tributary of the Panlaung river passess through Yebok in its southward course and meets the river four miles away. The Panlaung which rises further south turns a westerly direction for about two miles from the confluence and meanders northward. The rocky terrain between Nyaunggyat and Yebok is uninhabited. It is only along the Panlaung river that small villages are found, e.g. Taungbon, Nyaunggyat, Neyaunggga, Kyidaing and Maunggwe, reckoning from south to north.

The western margin of the Shan Plateau in which the caves lie is, generally speaking, a broad belt of limestion which is a prominent member of the rocks characterizing the Shan State. This plateau limestion varies from an almost pure calcite to a true dolomite.

FIG (1) lOCATION MAP OF PADAH LIN CAVE IN YWANGAN TOWNSHIP-TAUNGGYI DISTRICT

FIG (1) lOCATION MAP OF PADAH LIN CAVE IN YWANGAN TOWNSHIP-TAUNGGYI DISTRICT

FIG (2) GROUND PLAN OF CAVE (1)

FIG (2) GROUND PLAN OF CAVE (1)

FIG (3) SECTION SCROSS CAVE 1A (FROM X TO Y ON PLAN) LOOKING EAST

FIG (3) SECTION SCROSS CAVE 1A (FROM X TO Y ON PLAN) LOOKING EAST

The two caves facing south are about 200 yeards apart. The western one is very large, containing nine main caverns connected by narrow passages all in a row of north to south axis. The entire length is about 800 feet. With numerous bays, alcoves and tunnels the interior of the whole cave would be pitch dark but for the sink holes or apertures formed in the roofs of four caverns through which sunlight and fresh air penetrate. True to the nature of limestone caves, percolating water drips down from the roof and the process of forming white, glistening stalactites still coutinues here. Stalagmites also keep soaring higher and higher, sometimes almost meeting the hanging stalactites. The eastern cave, on the other hand, is much smaller. It is wide open to daylight and fresh air, and is only thirty to forty feet deep horizontally. Here the calcium carbonate drips down along the walls only, Being a rock shelter rather than a deep cave, this cavern which is numbered i by our team, is an ideal place for the prehistoric people to live in. Usually they do not dwell in the deep, dark adn damp caves like the huge western cave, number 2.

After exploring the tow caves the team decided to conduct excavations mainly in the smaller eastern cave, No. (1), and dig test pits near the mounth of the western cave. It is in the former cave that mural paintings exist. This rock shelter is naturally divided into two sectors by the forward projection of the central back wall. A casual visitor would not find the paintings easitly for they lie from ten to twelve feet above the floor level and have deteriorated through long exposure to weather. But careful observation would reveal about a dozen figures in red ochre of two human hands, a fish, bulls, bisons, a deer and probably the hind of an elephant. On the high ceiling is seen the figure of the sun between two converging crooked lines probably depicting the scene of the midday sun appearing between the brow of the cave and the far stretched ridge of the muntain range as viewed by the artist from within the cave.

IV-HAMMERSTONES

IV-HAMMERSTONES

V-HAMMERSTONES AND PEBBLES

V-HAMMERSTONES AND PEBBLES

FIG (5) HAMMERSTONES AND PEBBLES

FIG (5) HAMMERSTONES AND PEBBLES

VI-SPHI PEBBLE

VI-SPHI PEBBLE

FIG (6) SPLIT PEBBLES

FIG (6) SPLIT PEBBLES

VII-PEBBLE CHOPPERS

VII-PEBBLE CHOPPERS

FIG (7) PEBBLES CHOPPERS

FIG (7) PEBBLES CHOPPERS

VIII-CHOPPERS UNIFACIALLY FLAKED

VIII-CHOPPERS UNIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (8) CHOPPERS UNIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (8) CHOPPERS UNIFACIALLY FLAKED

IX-CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

IX-CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (9) CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (9) CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

X-CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

X-CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (10) CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

FIG (10) CHOPPING TOOLS-BIFACIALLY FLAKED

XI-HAND AXES

XI-HAND AXES

FIG (11) HAND AXES

FIG (11) HAND AXES

XII-SCRAPERS

XII-SCRAPERS

FIG (12) SCRAPERS

FIG (12) SCRAPERS

XIII-SCRAPERS

XIII-SCRAPERS

FIG (13) SCRAPERS

FIG (13) SCRAPERS

XIV-SCRAPERS

XIV-SCRAPERS

FIG (14) SCRAPERS

FIG (14) SCRAPERS

XV-EDGE GROUND TOOLS AND SHOULDERED ADZE

XV-EDGE GROUND TOOLS AND SHOULDERED ADZE

FIG (15) EDGE GROUND TOOLS AND SHOULDERED ADZE

FIG (15) EDGE GROUND TOOLS AND SHOULDERED ADZE

XVI-PITTED AND PERFORATED PEBBLES (RING STONES)

XVI-PITTED AND PERFORATED PEBBLES (RING STONES)

FIG (16) PITTED AND PERFORATED PEBBLES (RING STONES)

FIG (16) PITTED AND PERFORATED PEBBLES (RING STONES)

Mention From : THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

By

U AUNG THAW

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2 responses to “THE ‘NEOLITHIC’ CULTURE OF THE PADAH-LIN CAVES

  1. Richard Norton April 16, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Very nicely written paper. Very good line drawings of stone implements. I’m particularly interested if pictographs show eveidence of Shamans influence. Also are there any replications of Ice Age mammels.Thank you

  2. James Whannell December 8, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Any one else notice that picture #7 in the reproductions seems to match the corner of the nearby river, I wonder if the starshape is like an x marks the spot or a depiction of a solar observatory or village shape?

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