Repatriating skeletons and nominating Niah as a World Heritage Site

The Borneo Archaeology Seminar just concluded in Miri yesterday. I was hoping to attend to listen to a couple of rock art papers, but other work kept me busy. The media coverage from the seminar is focused on the speech by the Chief Minister of Sarawak, who suggested that the burials that were removed from the Niah Caves (now residing outside of the country) should be returned, but not before there are adequate facilities in the Sarawak Museum to house them. There was also a suggestion to nominate Niah as a Unesco World Heritage Site. We shall see in the coming years how these develop!

Niah Caves Should Be A World Heritage Site
Bernama, 28 October 2010

Bring back Niah Caves artefacts from abroad, says Chief Minister
Borneo Post, 29 October 2010

Museum’s request for restructuring gets CM’s nod
Borneo Post, 29 October 2010

Archaeological artefacts taken from Niah Caves and which are now overseas should be brought home as they are the heritage of Sarawak and Malaysia, said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“However, before the Niah burials could be taken back Sarawak Museum must build a special room with specially designed curation boxes to meet appropriate standards of storage and preservation,” said Taib.

The proposed place for this is at the left wing of Miri Petroleum Museum which could be designed and prepared with assistance of USM staff.

“The burials should be brought home so as to be easily accessible to researchers,” Taib said.


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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.

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