Archaeology in the Kelabit Highlands


Our guides, Sylvester and Tony, with hunting dog on a Kelabit trail

Remember the pig chase? If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you may recall the story of a wild-boar hunt in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak. This wasn’t the entire story. What I didn’t tell you at the time was the reason that prompted our presence in these forests: ancient burial sites. Dozens of megaliths, burial jars and other archaeological treasures are scattered throughout the Kelabit jungles. These sites have never been studied by archaeologists (yet), and the Kelabit people are struggling to save a heritage they know little about. Many of these highland forests are slated for logging. Locals worry they may lose the keys to their past.

You can read more in the current issue of Archaeology (or the online abstract).


One of Tony’s hunting dogs with burial jar in the jungle

5 thoughts on “Archaeology in the Kelabit Highlands

  1. Wow, from the map in the online article, it looks like you went to the very remote part of Sarawak.

    Shame on me, as a Malaysian, I haven’t even been to Sabah or Sarawak…would love to go but it’s hard when you only get 2 weeks vacation a year. 🙁

  2. Hi Rasa,
    Yes, very remote. For now, anyway. A logging road is going in, but for generations, foot and plane have been the only ways in and out of the highlands.
    Two weeks a year is not enough! It’s almost criminal.

  3. I feel like I’ve just opened the secret back story on National Geographic. I haven’t explored you site yet, but already I am utterly fascinate. I guess I am just a sucker for traditional ethnic food and hair-raising food adventure stories. How often to the permit you onto the pages of Gourmet. But more to the point, what the hell are you doing there?

    By all means, stay. Tell us more…

  4. Ed, thanks for the kind words and welcome to Rambling Spoon. Stay tuned for more of those adventure stories (and stories behind the stories). Only problem is finding time to post more — I do have to attend to the paying assignments.

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