Abdul Karim (third left) and University of Florida president Kent Fuchs (fourth left) exchanging documents.

GRAINESVILLE, Florida: The Sarawak government and University of Florida sealed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday to jointly explore the archaeology and ethnology field.

The MoU was inked following a mission to bring back bones discovered in Niah Caves, believed to be more than 4,000 years old, to Sarawak.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the bones were brought back for scientific research purposes.

“The skeletons were found by Sarawak Museum’s first curator Tom Harrisson at the west entrance of the cave when he did the excavation work between 1957 and 1967.

“At that time, we did not have any university and research facility to conduct further research.

“The bones then were sent to University of Nevada for research purposes on loan,” he said.

A homecoming ceremony will be organised next week on March 5, including a seminar by experts from University of Nevada and University of Florida, he added.

He also pointed out that the bones would be the main collection to be exhibited during the opening of the new Sarawak Museum.

“This will create a lot of interest, not only among history enthusiasts and archaeologists but also tourists.

“It will position Sarawak on the world map and definitely spur greater interest among those who want to conduct more research on Niah Cave,” Abdul Karim said.