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An Unexpected Discovery

The skeletal remains of Homo floresiensis were discovered by a local team of Indonesian archaeologists at Liang Bua in 2003.

Photograph of the moment when the partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis was unearthed The moment when the partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis was unearthed in a fragile condition (Photo: © Liang Bua Team/ARKENAS)

The cluster of bones were found near the eastern wall of the cave, in reddish-brown clay, that was quite damp.

“When we found the cluster of bones we cleaned them gently and partially uncovered them… then we knew that the bones were a cluster of human bones…” (Wahyu Saptomo, archaeologist, ARKENAS)

The bones were extremely fragile and took approximately three days to completely excavate. The bones were covered in UHU glue to protect them from damage and were then transported to Jakarta for cleaning and conservation.

  • What do you find most interesting about the nature of the discovery?

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This video is from the free online course:

Homo Floresiensis Uncovered: The Science of ‘the Hobbit’

University of Wollongong

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Why Uncover the Past?
    Why Uncover the Past?
    video

    Professor Bert Roberts explains how modern archaeological science helps us trace out the human story and piece together the human family tree.

  • Excavations at Liang Bua
    Excavations at Liang Bua
    video

    The discovery of Homo floresiensis and ensuing excavations at Liang Bua