Caves in stone age across Shan State

Padalin Cave.
Padalin Cave.

By Maung Tha (Archaeology)

The eastern plateaus emerged as Shan mountain ranges 600-700 million years ago. Most of natural caves were home to Stone Age human. Among them, Padalin Cave was the most significant in Ywangan Township.
To know comprehensive evidences of the Stone Age in Myanmar, the Department of Archaeology and National Museum started exploration of natural caves in Shan State in 2012. One-sided finished stone weapons, conch shells, pieces of charcoal and bones found at Montawa and Tin-ein stone caves on Shan plateau are evidences of Stone Age human. Moreover, the conditional Myanmar’s Political History mentioned that a flock of many Stone Age humans resided at Tin-ein Cave in Taunggyi Township.

Padalin Cave
Padalin Cave is located 10 miles west of Ywangan, southern Shan State. It was found by geologist U Khin Maung Kyaw in 1960. A team led by Director U Aung Thaw of Archaeology Department excavated the site on 9 January 1969 to examine the cave.
Two Padalin limestone caves, at an altitude of 1,050 feet, take positions on the hillside with 50-70 feet in height turn to the southward.
No 2 Padalin Cave is more than 800 feet long with stalagmites and stalactites. No evidence for residences of Stone Age human was found.
No 1 Padalin Cave is 200 yards from No 2 cave. Twelve pictures—two palms, one sun, one fish and eight animals—illustrated by stone age humans with the use of red ochre can be seen on the 10-12 feet high wall. These pictures are similar to mural paintings of Stone Age in southern France and northern Spain.
More than 1,600 ancient objects such as stone weapons, pieces of charcoal, animal bones and pots were excavated from No 1 cave. The radio carbon test showed the result that the pieces of bone found from the cave were 12,000 years old. A pile of ash in the centre of the cave indicated early men continuously residing in the cave. Pieces of charcoal and pots and conch shells were between 11,000 years and 6,700 years old. As such, experts made a conclusion that Stone Age culture in Padalin Cave might be between 12,000 and 4,000 years. Not only choppers in Palaeolithic era but also a rough adze installed with a tang was found in the cave. It can be known that human beings had resided in the cave from Palaeolithic to Neolithic eras.

Montawa Cave.
Montawa Cave.

Montawa Cave
Montawa Cave in southwest ward of Taunggyi takes a position on the western shoulder of the mountain range stretching from the south to the north. The mouth of No 1 cave facing the west is 27 feet wide and 30 feet high with 4,934 feet in length. Water streaming in the cave flows out from the drain of main cave.
Entrance to No 1 cave is 50 feet high from the ground. Montawa cave with plentiful of water sources was possible for residence of Stone Age humans.
In 1938-39, experts from Harvard University of the United States of America excavated Montawa Cave, finding pieces of manual and mechanized pots, one-sided smooth stone weapon, pieces of charcoal and bines. No 2 cave, 100 metres north of No 1 cave, turns to the westward. The mouth of cave is nine feet wide and 14.75 feet high with 73.8 feet in length. The hillside in front of the cave is enough for walking. No. 2 cave with good ventilation does not have wetness in interior. An underground creek is flowing near No 1 cave, supporting the water source to the Stone Age humans. The Department of Archaeology found one rough stone weapon and some pieces of pot in excavation at No 2 cave.

Buddho Zinaw Cave
Buddho Zinaw Cave formed with two natural caves is located on Thikhaung mountain range, west of Inkhaung Village, Kalaw Township, southern Shan State.
No 1 Buddho Zinaw Cave is 12 feet wide and 50 feet long. Its mouth turns to the southeast ward. A team led by Dr Tin Thein of Geology Department from Taunggyi University found human tooth and bones of animals in the cave. They also found bones and teeth fossils of animal from the front of cave. A pile of bone fossils of animal pointed out the cave might be suitable for humans.
The front of No 1 cave was excavated and pieces of animal skulls, bones and teeth and stone weapons found. A hand axe used in Stone Age was also found. As the stone used in making the axe was available around Pindaya, Stone Age humans who resided at Buddho Zinaw Cave might come from Padalin Cave, according to the remarks of experts from Department of Archaeology. No 2 cave is 1,187 feet south of No 1 cave, facing the north, 158 feet higher than No 1 cave. The mouth of the cave is 9.5 feet wide and 19.5 feet high with 28.5 feet in length. A 23 feet wide plain is located in front of the cave.

Buddho Zinaw Rock
The 23-foot rock is located north of Buddho Zinaw Cave, turning to the east. Buddhojino Sayadaw found teeth and bones of animals from the east of a 400 square feet plain in front of the rock. Bones and teeth of buffalos, cows and deer, a jaw with teeth of carnivorous animal and pieces of pots were found in excavating the rock.

Papant Cave
No 1 cave of Papant Cave, north of Papant Village in Hopong Township, southern Shan State, is 42 feet wide, 365 feet long and 18 feet high. Pebbles are found in the west of cave wall. It is assumed that these pebbles were made for stone weapons by Stone Age humans. Excavation did not show any evidence of human residences.
No 2 cave near No 1 cave turns to the northward. The entrance to the cave is lower than the ground, so water flows into the cave.
No 3 cave, east of No 2, faces northwest ward. Its area is similar to No 1 cave with proper lighting.
No 4 cave, north of No 2, takes a position on the hillside. Its entrance is 50 feet high from the ground, facing southeast ward. No 2, 3 and 4 caves were suitable for residence of humans.

Hsuzaungganaing Cave
One of two caves from Hsuzaungganaing Cave, near quarry of south of KyaukyeOhkwe Village in Nyaungshwe Township is just an area for a family and another cave, 26 feet long, 30 feet wide and 26 feet high. The mouth of cave is about 20 feet wide, turning to southwest ward. Hsuzaungganaing Cave is located between Htet-ein Cave and Montawa Cave. No 1 cave is 60 feet high from the ground. A stream flows 65 feet south of the cave. The Department of Archaeology excavated the cave in 2012 to search evidence of early men for residences.
Results of excavation showed bones, teeth, pieces of pots and stone weapons, beads and conch shells in addition to bones of dogs and cows as well as rats. As experts reviewed that as these animals were tamed by humans, No 1 cave might be residences of Stone Age humans.
No 2 cave, 700 feet west of No 1, is 7.5 feet long and 14 feet wide. No evidence of residence for humans was found there.
Pawlapat Cave, Kyauktaing Cave, Taungbohtaung Cave, Htet-ein Cave and KyaukyeOh Cave are located in Nyaungshwe Township of southern Shan State. Although some natural caves are wide similar to Htamsam Cave in Hopong Township and Peikchinmyaung Cave in PyinOoLwin Township, evidences of Stone Age human residences cannot be found there because concrete roads have been paved in the caves. Whatever it maybe, natural caves where early men resided show partially social lifestyle of Stone Age in Myanmar.

(Translated by Than Tun Aung)


Year-wise reports of Department of Archaeology and National Museum
Conditional Myanmar’s Political History (Volume I)

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