Prehistoric tools and paintings discovered in Khao Sam Roi Yot caves

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Ancient cave paintings and stone tools dating back millennia could shed light on prehistoric life in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park area.

An archaeological team from the 1st Regional Office of the Fine Arts Department (Ratchaburi) has been exploring caves in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park jointly with park staff. In May, they discovered seven prehistoric murals in a clay cave some 125 metres above sea level in Ban Phu Noi, Sam Roi Yot District. The paintings are believed to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.

Earlier discoveries of ancient tools, pottery fragments and bivalve shells led archeologist Kannikar Premjai to team up with the head of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Mr Roongroj Asawakultharin, to re-explore the clay caves.

What they found during the latest exploration showed traces of human habitation, said Ms Premjai. “The discovery of prehistoric stone tools and fragments of prehistoric and historic pottery is very rewarding,” she said. Large flaked-stone objects shaped like a water drop were found in very well-preserved condition.

Entrance to one of the clay caves in Khao Sam Roi Yot.

Experts contacted by Ms Premjai’s office have given preliminary confirmation that these objects are prehistoric tools. Cave murals were first discovered in the area in 1996 and the Fine Arts Department later made a copy of the paintings.

Some 20 years later, another discovery was made at Tham Wo in Hup Ta Khot. These discoveries gave rise to the Western Region Prehistoric Archaeological Exploration Project, which focuses on the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park area with the goal of finding colored cave paintings and traces of human habitation that could shed light on the area’s ecosystem in prehistoric times.

Ancient paintings are evident in clay caves of Khao Sam Roi Yot.

According to Ms Premjai, the most recent discoveries show that the area has a rich ecosystem. The next step for the archaeological team is to study and analyse their discoveries in order to see whether they share similarities with artifacts found elsewhere.

Sam Roi Yot District Chief Pitak Phitsiriwattanasut hailed the team’s  discoveries and said his district planned to join forces with park officials and other relevant agencies to develop and promote the park’s archaeological heritage as tourist attraction.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is a tourist attraction in the upper parts of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province with links to Hua Hin, Pran Buri and Kui Buri. Endowed with sandy beaches, lush forests, mountains and caves, it has great but largely untapped potential for ecotourism.