Digging for the truth in Kelantan?

Which is the birthplace of Malay civilisation? Kelantan or Perak? That is what the Kelantan wants to find out, through analysis of archaeological material found in the Nenggiri Ulu Valley. The aim is to shed light on the origin of a pre-Islamic, prehistoric even, civilisation in Kelantan.

22 June 2007 (The Star) – Which is the birthplace of Malay civilisation – Kelantan or Perak? That is what the state of Kelantan wants to find out, through analysis of archaeological material found in the Nenggiri Ulu Valley. The aim is to shed light on the origin of a pre-Islamic, prehistoric even, civilisation in Kelantan. So far, the earliest known evidence of human habitation is in Perak (see the article by Liz Price and the Perak Man podcast).

But I’m not sure if the research is looking that far back in prehistoric time (after all, the Perak Man is only one skeleton), or if they are looking for actual “kingdoms” or evidence for civilisations. I wonder why there was no mention of Chitu or Langkasuka, which were most probably pre-Islamic and also was probably situated in the Kelantan region.

Still, if there are any researchers wanting a shot to read the archaeological material, here’s your chance!

Kelantan inviting archaeological researchers

Kelantan is inviting researchers to ascertain archaeological findings that claim that the oldest form of civilisation in Malaysia, besides the oldest human fossils and artefacts, were located in the state.

This will put to rest ongoing debates over where civilisation originated from in the country, state museum board chairman Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said.

“Some say the Perak Man is the oldest (10,000 years-old) but we have research evidence to indicate that civilisation began here (Ulu Kelantan) some 12,000 years ago,” he said after opening a month-long archaelogical exhibition of the Nenggiri Ulu Valley, which is a Masters research study of National Museum and Antiquities Department director-general Datuk Dr Adi Haji Taha here.

He said the state would welcome input from all, including international researchers and historians to ascertain the claims.

Nenggiri Ulu, which is part of Ulu Kelantan, now called Gua Musang, has a cave system where evidence of neolithic life has been found and the present orang asli community are said to be their descendents.

According to Takiyuddin, research done has unveiled strong suspicions that there was a a pre-Islamic Malay Kingdom in Ulu Kelantan from where the legendary Princess Ruler of Kelantan – “Puteri Saadon” – originated from.

Read more about the invitation to research Kelantan.

Books about the archaeology of Malaysia:
Early History (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia) by Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman (Ed)

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Author: Noel Tan

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

2 thoughts on “Digging for the truth in Kelantan?”

  1. It’s interesting that Takiyuddin seems more interested in the cultural aspect of archaeology relating to the Malay history, rather than concentrating on pure archaeological dates. There’s no mention of the 100,000+ year old sites in the Lenggong Valley (Bukit Jawa) in Perak. As Noel says, they don’t seem to be looking that far back, as it predates what they are hoping to find!

  2. “he said after opening a month-long archaelogical exhibition of the Nenggiri Ulu Valley, which is a Masters research study of National Museum and Antiquities Department director-general Datuk Dr Adi Haji Taha here. ”

    Where is this exhibition being held? Is it in the National Museum or in Kelantan or where???

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