Archeology on Savu

Lie Ma Dira Cave

Lie Ma Dira (Madira) is situated only 300 m from the high tide mark at Ro'a Lie (cave) in West Sawu District. It is a long cave with a narrow mouth facing west. It contains stalactites, stalagmites and a fresh spring of clean water. The cave served as a Japanese hideaway during the Second World War.

There are indications that humans used the cave about 6000 years ago. The intensity of its use increased dramatically after 5960± 70 BP. The occupation reached its peak afterward, indicated by high numbers of flakes and cores, shells and animal bones. Then, it seems that the cave was not intensively used after the first appearance of pottery, at which time the archaeological data decrease (dating in process).

It is apparent that the Lie Ma Dira people depended heavily on marine resources. They exploited more varied shell species from more environments in the later period than in the earlier period of occupation. During the occupation, stone flakes were produced by a percussion technique. Some flakes were used directly without secondary working and some flakes were retouched.

Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Australian National University

Translation and pronunciation:
  • Lie (pron. Lea Madeira) means "outcrop", "reef".
  • Lie Ma Dira means (place name) Ma Dira Outcrop.
  • Ro'a (pron. "row are" with each sound shortened with an abrupt stop) means "hole", "burrow", "orifice".
  • Ro'a Lie means "cave".

Copyright © 2006 Ina Tali/Francesca Von Reinhaart

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