G'day folks,

Welcome to a real-life "hobbit" cave in Flores, Indonesia. 

A new “hobbit” species of human was found in the remote Indonesian cave of Liang Bua. This limestone cave has yielded some of the most important finds in modern anthropology. The remains of two “hobbit” people, as the media calls them, were found here in 2003.

Homo floresiensis, a homo (or human) genus was discovered here by Mike Norwood, professor of anthropology at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Norwood and others have shown that this human existed as recently as 12,000 years ago, possibly putting this species in contact with local homo sapiens.

What makes H. floresiensis so remarkable is that they accomplished the same things as their larger H. sapiens cousins, such as making fire and hunting in cooperation with each other, while being less than four feet tall and having brains approximately one-half to one-third of the size of H. sapiens.

At this point, this cave is the only site where the “hobbits” of Flores, Indonesia, have been found.

Clancy's comment: Amazing, eh? What will they find next?

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31 March 2020 - Bramhope Tunnel North Portal - England

Bramhope Tunnel North Portal 
- England -

G'day folks,

This Gothic castle-like portal is a testament to the amazing craftsmanship of the navvies who built the railway tunnel. 


The Bramhope Tunnel was built for the Leeds to Thirsk railway line at the height of England’s railroad mania in the 1840s. Around the village today, you can see four of the 20 original airshafts intact, a tall sighting tower and plenty of large earth piles that look almost like small hills along the length of the tunnel. If you follow them far enough, they will lead you to this incredible castle-like facade.



At the north entrance of the Bramhope Tunnel, a Gothic-style castellated portal was built from sandstone rock. It has three side towers with turrets, and a horseshoe-shaped archway decorated with a carving of a bearded man (possibly the likeness of the landowner for whom the facade was built). The portal is sadly somewhat in disrepair now, and often has graffiti emblazoned on it.


The tunnel and the visible castle facade were constructed between 1845 to 1849 by hundreds of navvies—railway workers—who came from all over the United Kingdom and lived with their families in the area. Aside from the north portal, the tunnel is known for its impressive length, stretching just over 2 miles long. 



 In the end, when it was built, the entire railway line from Leeds to Thirsk cost over £2 million. It sadly also cost lives. At the time, roughly 23 workers were thought to have lost their lives building the tunnel; however, records of many others have been uncovered since. A replica of the north portal was erected as a memorial to the workers in the churchyard of Otley parish nearby.



Clancy's comment: In all my travels around the world, I've always appreciated the workmanship of  structures like this. And, as opposed to many modern structures, they will be standing for many years to come.


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G'day folks,

I'm always keen to look at old photographs to see if we humans have improved. Check out these fine examples.

Clancy's comment: Interesting, eh? Love the fashions.

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29 March 2020 - Prehistoric Cave Art of Maros Pangkep - INDONESIA

Prehistoric Cave Art 
of Maros Pangkep 

G'day folks,

These 40,000-year-old stenciled hands are older than the famous cave art in France and Spain. 


A torch beam finds a stencil of a hand, its ochre outline surprisingly vibrant given its age. Next to it, a sketch of a babirusa—a type of wild “pig-deer” found in Indonesia—shows such attention to detail that the gender of the animal (female) is still clear nearly 36,000 years after its creation. It’s thought to be the oldest known example of figurative art in the world.


The Pleistocene-era rock art is spread throughout the karst caves within the Maros and Pangkep regions in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Researchers from Australia’s Griffith University used uranium series dating and found that one of the handprints was roughly 40,000 years old. The collection of paintings, which includes the handprint and the babirusa, contains artwork that is slightly older than the images found in European caves.  

The rock art’s ancient age shattered the preexisting notion among many Western archaeologists and historians that the cave art originated in modern-day Europe. While little-known, these Indonesian cave drawings are even older than the famous stenciled caves in France and Spain. 

But though it wasn’t celebrated until recently, the cave art wasn’t unknown. H.R Van Heekeren, a Dutch archaeologist, documented the figures and published his work in 1950. However, the paintings were deemed to be of no real significance and subsequently no additional exploration was done until nearly 60 years later.

The purpose behind the rock art is unclear. It’s commonly thought that sites with rock art are ceremonial, but there’s no actual evidence to say whether this is truly the case. One theory is that the rock art was an early library cataloging the animals and fish eaten by the people who dwelled here. Another theory is that the stenciled hands may have more symbolic meanings, such as protecting a house, expressing a person’s connection to the place, or attempting to communicate with the spiritual realm.

Getting to the karsts requires boating down the narrow river before an hour long walk through rice paddies. A monkey or two may shriek from the tops of the strange palm trees—described by the guide as “shrimpfingers”—before disappearing. Nearby, cows laze and graze under the monolith overhangs and ducks forage for huge snails in the rice paddies. 

Clancy's comment: I am no expert, but I would respectfully suggest that some of the cave paintings in Australia are much older than these.

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G'day folks,

Welcome to another weird and wonderful formation, found by pure chance. Hidden in the hills is a mysterious stone structure, known only to a few. 

In 2003, South African pilot Johan Heine was flying over the hills of the gorgeous Mpumalanga region of South Africa when he crashed his plane into the mountainside. After exiting the plane, Heine saw before him three monolithic, five-ton dolomite stones sticking out of the ground, and behind them a giant stone circle. 

Known to only a select few and accessible solely by rough dirt roads past the wild horses of Kaapschehoop, the megalithic stone calendar is dubbed Adam’s Calendar. With the shape of a circle and a diameter of 100 feet, it is nicknamed the “Birthplace of the Sun” and dubbed “Africa’s Stonehenge.” As with many similar stone monuments, it loosely aligns with the celestial world.

The stone circle generated a fair amount of buzz after Michael Tellinger, a writer, claimed it is the oldest manmade structure in the world and was made by a vanished civilization. However, his claims have been widely disputed. As of now, the true age, origin, and purpose of Adam’s Calendar remains a mystery that is yet to be solved.

Clancy's comment: Amazing how it was found, eh?

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27 March 2020 - Stunning Sudwala Caves in South Africa

Stunning Sudwala Caves
 in South Africa 

G'day folks,

These otherworldly caverns form Earth's oldest known cave system.  


The Sudwala Caves in Mpumalanga, South Africa, are the oldest known caves in the world. They began to form about 240 million years ago as natural acid in groundwater seeped through the faults and joints of the region’s Precambrian dolomite rock. To put that unimaginable length of time into some context, when the cave formation began, Africa was still a part of Gondwana, the supercontinent that incorporated present-day South America, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Australia, and Antarctica.



 The caves are part of the Malmani Dolomite Ridge. Near the entrance to the system is a massive chamber measuring 230 feet (70 meters) in diameter and 121 feet (37 meters) high from the center of the chamber to its dome-like ceiling. The chamber is known as the PR Owen Hall, after Philippus Rudolf Owen. In 1965, Owen purchased the land on which the caves are found and opened them up to the public.


Many other named features exist within the spectacular cave system, which stretches for many miles. There are strange speleothem structures—stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones —with names like Samson’s Pillar, the Rocket, and the Screaming Monster. These began to form between 140 and 200 million years ago; the growth rate for a stalactite in the Sudwala Caves is about one inch (2.5 centimeters) per century. Other nooks and bizarre outcroppings bear titles such as the Devil’s Workshop and Fairyland, while a natural pattern on the ceiling of one chamber is known as the Map of Africa.


Apart from primitive microbial fossils and a colony of about 800 horseshoe bats, signs of life inside the Sudwala Caves are scarce. 

Humans, however, have made their mark. Homo habilis, one of the earliest members of the genus Homo, lived in the caves around 1.8 million years ago, and some of their primitive stone tools have been found inside, along with archaeological finds dating to a few thousand years B.C. (some of these artifacts are displayed near the cave entrance).

Far more recently, the caves served as a fortress and refuge for the Swazi prince Somquba. In the mid-1800s, Somquba was locked in a power struggle with his brother and heir apparent, Mswati. During the conflict, Somquba used the caves as a refuge with its own source of fresh water and plenty of room to stockpile food and house cattle.

 It was also a natural fortress, with a narrow entrance that could be easily watched and defended. Many battles took place at the entrance, which was under the charge of Sudwala, Somquba’s captain, after whom the caves were named. On various occasions, Mswati’s forces tried to smoke Sudwala and his men out of the cave, or suffocate them inside it, by starting fires at the entrance (burn marks can still be seen today). But due to a natural flow of air which exists inside the cave—the source of which is still unknown—Somquba and Sudwala were able to survive.

The caves were later used by the Boers to store ammunition during the Second Boer War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. At the end of the war, rumors began to circulate that President Paul Kruger had hidden a hoard of gold in the caves to protect it from the British.

Known as the “Kruger Millions,” the treasure trove of gold coins is estimated to be worth around U.S. $500,000,000 in today’s terms. It still hasn’t been found.

Since the 1970s, the main chamber of the Sudwala Caves has also been used as a concert hall. Capable of seating 500 people, it apparently has fantastic acoustics and a pleasant temperature, the latter thanks to the same flow of fresh air, the origin of which is still unknown, that saved Somquba.

Clancy's comment:  Wow. Interesting what you may find in a cave.

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