Treasuring Brunei's past

An overview of the ancient history of Brunei.

The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newblog

3 March 2007 (Brunei Times) – An overview of the ancient history of Brunei.

Brunei Times, 3 Mar 07

Treasuring Brunei’s past

Many of the great civilisations in our world’s history had marine origins, whether they evolved in Europe, the Americas or Asia. The kingdom of Brunei Darussalam is no exception, as historical evidence lends veracity to this claim. Relics of Bruneian culture have been found around river estuaries and ancient settlements, as proven from recent archaeological finds in Kota Batu, Tanjung Batu, Limau Manis and several other areas.

The powerful and opulent kingdom of Brunei Darussalam was first mentioned in various accounts of contemporaneous Asian civilisations in the 14th century. As local legend has it, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar (or Alka Betara as recorded in Hindu accounts). His move from Garang to the Brunei river estuary led to the glorious discovery of Brunei. His first exclamation upon landing on the shore, as the legend goes, was “Baru nah!” (which in English, translates into “This is it!”) and thus, the name “Brunei” was derived from his words.

Another version of the etymology of “Brunei” recalls that the early Bruneians, who were fishermen or sea-loving people, were known as “Varuna” in the Sanskrit language, which means “people who live by, and on the water”. This gradually became the name of the country.


Related Books:
Museum Treasures of Southeast Asia by B. Campell

Author: noelbynature

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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