Establishing the time of initial human occupation of Liang Bua, western Flores, Indonesia

K. E. Westaway*, M. J. Morwood, R. G. Roberts, J. x. Zhao, T. Sutikna, E. W. Saptomo, W. J. Rink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Liang Bua, a limestone cave in western Flores, has an archaeological and faunal sequence known to span the last 95 ka and is the type-site for a small-bodied hominid species, Homo floresiensis. This paper describes the geomorphic history of this significant site, and presents numerical ages for key events as determined by thermoluminescence dating of sediments (using a dual-aliquot regenerative-dose protocol) and uranium-series dating of flowstones. Our age estimates indicate that Liang Bua existed as a subterranean chamber by 400 ka ago. It was subsequently exposed by the incision of the Wae Racang River, which invaded the cave around 190 ka and deposited an upward-fining sequence of water-rolled boulders and cobbles. The latter conglomerate was partially reworked around 130 ka ago and was capped by flowstones at 100 ka. The conglomerate also contains stone artefacts, which implies that the occupation of the surrounding area is at least as old as the time of emplacement of the conglomerate. After 190 ka, a complex sequence of erosion and deposition led to the accumulation of at least 11 m of sediment in the front chamber of the cave, which proved suitable for hominid occupation. Such geochronological and geomorphological information is extremely valuable for interpreting the archaeological record at Liang Bua and its wider significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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