Liang Bangkai Cave in Tanah Bumbu district, South Kalimantan province. (ANTARA/HO-Meratus Geopark Management Agency/uyu)
Banjarmasin, S Kalimantan (ANTARA) - The Meratus Geopark Management Agency (BP) will conduct research on recently discovered archaeological objects in the geopark area to strengthen the social and cultural heritage wealth of the tourism destination.

Deputy Chairperson of Meratus Geopark BP Nurul Fajar Desira informed that the archaeological research would be carried out in 2023 at Pa'au village and Riam Kanan reservoir area in Banjar district as well as at Liang Bangkai Cave in Tanah Bumbu district, South Kalimantan province.

"The results of this research will enrich the wealth of the Meratus Geopark in the future, thus they need to be disseminated to the national and international community," he said on Tuesday.

Earlier, a bracelet and an axe, presumed to be ancient relics, were found at Pa'au village. Meanwhile, a stone axe was discovered on Sirang Island’s Riam Kanan Reservoir area.

Furthermore, prehistoric paintings and prehistoric human fossils were found in the Liang Bangkai Cave.

"It (the finding) needs to be investigated, (especially regarding) the estimation of which year they (the prehistoric humans) lived in the area," the deputy chairperson of the agency stated in a webinar on the development of collaboration for making Meratus Geopark a priority tourism destination.

The development of tourism facilities within the conservation zone of the geopark area is still allowed, but not on a massive scale, he informed.

"Construction of tourism facilities which highlight natural, social, and cultural characteristics (of the geopark area) is still permitted, but it must not be conducted massively. There must be no buildings which damage existing nature," Desira remarked.

Footpaths to the protected forest, fences, and other facilities are still allowed to be built, with permission from the South Kalimantan Forestry Office, he added.

Meanwhile, the Tanah Bumbu Tourism Awareness Group (Pokdarwis) has closed the areas where the archaeological relics were discovered over concerns that the relics might suffer damage at the hands of tourists.

"We are still keeping the human bone artifacts (from being displayed) for fear of (their) being damaged by visitors. We hope that archaeological research on these findings can be carried out (soon)," the head of Tanah Bumbu Pokdarwis, Imam, said.

Meratus Geopark was declared a national geopark in 2018. Currently, it is preparing to be included as a UNESCO Global Geopark (UGGp).

To date, Indonesia has 19 national geoparks out of which 7 have been recognized as UGGp, namely Batur, Sewu Mountains, Ciletuh, Mount Rinjani, Lake Toba, Belitong, and Maros-Pangkep.

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Translator: Sri Haryati, Uyu Liman
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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