Although Niah National Park is one of Sarawak’s smallest national parks, it is certainly one of the most important and unusual attractions to visitors. What is most interesting about Niah is that one of the main claims to fame is the birthplace of civilization in the region. The oldest modern human remains in Southeast Asia along with many other relics of prehistoric man were discovered about 40,000 years ago, making the park one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The park has a size of 3,138 hectares of forest and limestone karst areas. It was first gazetted as a National Historic Monument in 1958 and on 23 November 1974 was gazetted as National Park and open to the public on 1 January 1975.
In 1958, a discovery was made which confirmed Niah as a site of major archaeological significance. Led by Tom Harrison, he and his team unearthed a skull at the West Mouth of the Great Cave, which was estimated to be 40,000 years old. It was the skull of a modern human (Homo sapiens). Apart from that, plenty of human settlements in the area like tools, cooking utensils and ornaments, made of bone, stone or clay were found. These items found suggested that a long period of settlement reaching back into the palaeolithic era (the earliest part of the Stone Age). Further excavation works are still on going.
Besides that, the Subis River (Sungai Subis) flows along the park’s western border. Not forgetting a large, almost vertical limestone massif, Mount Subis (Gunung Subis), which rises from the plain little above sea level and covers about 60% of the area. The limestone was originally formed as a coral reef in the Lower Miocene. Later it was uplifted and modified by faulting and erosion.