The challenges faced by Malaysian Museums

The Star, 22 May 2017: Probably applicable to many other museums in the region and the world – making museums relevant and attractive to people today.

IT IS educational; a way of providing an interactive bridge to the past; a significant tourist attraction.

Source: Challenging times for houses of history – Community | The Star Online

Batu hidup ditemukan di Jenagor – Terengganu – Utusan Online

Utusan Online (18 May 2017, article in Bahasa Malaysia): A trio of standing stones ‘batu hidup’ has been uncovered in Terrengganu. The location of these megaliths are quite interesting as they are usually found on the western side of the Malayan peninsula (Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Perak). I have often though that the standing stones are part of a megalithic cultural package that was carried from Sumatra, so their discovery on the eastern side of the peninsula is potentially significant.

KUALA TERENGGANU 18 Mei – Tiga bongkahan batu megalith yang dikenali sebagai batu hidup ditemukan di Jenagor, Hulu Terengganu baru-baru ini.

Source: Batu hidup ditemukan di Jenagor – Terengganu – Utusan Online

Maritime Grave Robbers Detained

The Maritime Executive, 08 May 2017: The Malaysian and Indonesian authorities have detained the MV Chuan Hong 68 and her crew, a vessel which is believed to be illegally looting shipwrecks (including war graves) in Indonesian and Malaysian waters.

 

MV Chuan Hong

Somebody has been stealing warships from Southeast Asian waters – more specifically, sunken warships, which are prized for their scrap metal value. Indonesian authorities now believe that they have caught one of the perpetrators: they allege that the 8,000 gt Chinese grab dredger Chuan Hong 68 was responsible for illegally scavenging the wrecks of the pre-WWII Japanese destroyer Sagiri, plus the passenger vessels Hiyoshi Maru and Katori Maru, the steamship Igara and the tanker Seven Skies.

It is the second time that maritime authorities have caught the Chuan Hong 68 in as many months. On April 20, the Indonesian Navy detained her in the waters off Natuna in the Riau Islands on the suspicion that she was engaged in illegal dredging. She escaped on April 22 and fled to Malaysia, where she was detained once again by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Source: Indonesia Captures Maritime Grave Robbers

See also:
Indonesia seeks Interpol’s help to find dredger (Straits Times, 23 April 2017)
The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts (Outside Online, 02 May 2017)
Indonesia Detains Chinese-flagged Dredger for Looting Sunken Treasure (Netral, 07 May 2017)

Carbon dating confirms ‘Penang Woman’ is 5,710 years old

The Malay Mail, 12 May 2017: Fresh C14 dates for the skeleton found at Guar Kepah in Penang reveals it is 5,700 years old, consistent with the shell midden’s Neolithic date.

Source: Carbon dating confirms ‘Penang Woman’ is 5,710 years old | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

See also: Carbon dating finds ‘Penang Woman’ to be 5,710 years old (The Star, 13 May 2017)

5,000-year-old skeleton found in Guar Kepah

New Straits Times, 25 April 2017: More on the skeleton found at Guar Kepah in Penang. There are now some calls to nominate the site for World Heritage, but those calls seem to be coming from politicians who may not be aware of how high the bar is.

KEPALA BATAS: The latest discovery of human skeleton, aged probably between 5,000 and 6,000 years, at the construction site of an archaeology gallery in Guar Kepah here on Monday proved the existence of prehistoric people in Peninsular Malaysia during Neolithic period.

Source: 5,000-year-old skeleton found in Guar Kepah | New Straits Times | Malaysia General Business Sports and Lifestyle News

See also: State seeks Unesco listing for site of ‘Penang Woman’ discovery (Malay Mail, 25 April 2017)

Prehistoric human skeleton found at Penang neolithic site

Malay Mail, 19 April 2017: Human remains have been found during construction at Guar Kepah in Penang, a known shell midden site that has been investigated previously. The construction in question is actually the gallery site that was to display information from previous excavations! The team from USM is now studying the bones.

Source: Prehistoric human skeleton found at Penang neolithic site | Malaysia | Malay Mail Online

See also: 5,000-year-old skeleton discovered at Guar Kepah construction site (New Straits Times/Yahoo, 19 April 2017)

[Paper] Hunter-gatherer residential mobility and the marginal value of rainforest patches

New paper in PNAS; a study of Batek Negrito lifestyle patterns in Peninsular Malaysia and what it can tell us about hunter-gatherer mobility.

Hunter-gatherers are notable for their high levels of mobility, but the ecological and social cues that determine the timing of camp movements (residential mobility) are poorly understood. Using models from foraging theory, we found that, for one population of hunter-gatherers, camp movements coincided with the point at which resource acquisition declined to a critical threshold level, but before local resources were completely depleted. These results suggest that hunter-gatherer residential mobility is constrained in a predictable fashion by rates of local resource depletion.

Source: Hunter-gatherer residential mobility and the marginal value of rainforest patches

Archaeologists recover artifacts from Fort Cornwallis moat

Archaeological excavations at Penang’s Fort Cornwallis have yielded artefacts from the Straits Settlements period.

GEORGE TOWN: Despite being a tourist attraction now, Fort Cornwallis, a colonial-era defensive structure, is still turning up archaeological surprises.USM

Source: Archaeologists recover artifacts from Fort Cornwallis moat

Calls for Malaysian history books to include references to Old Kedah

History advocates in Malaysia are campaigning for the inclusion of references to Old Kedah, discovered through archaeological excavations, into history textbooks.

Call to include Old Kedah civilisation in history textbooks
Free Malaysia Today, 05 July 2016

New facts on Old Kedah, which has been declared as the earliest and oldest civilisation in Southeast Asia, should be immediately included in history books used as textbooks in schools.

Chairman of the Malaysian Historical Society Kedah branch, Prof Dr Wan Shamsuddin Mohd Yusof said the information was necessary so the young generation could be aware of the existence of the more than 2,000 year-old treasure at the Sungai Batu Archaeology Complex.

“This is history, not a myth, or merely a legend, but something that should be the pride of Malaysians, that we have the oldest civilisation in Southeast Asia,” he told Bernama.

On May 23, the Sungai Batu Archaeology Complex was declared the earliest and oldest civilisation in this region and five archaeologists, representing five main civilisations in the world, namely Mesopotamia, Indus, Mesoamerica, China and Greek-Rome, signed the declaration plaque.

Full story here.

Reassessing the Deep Skull from Niah

A study of the Deep Skull from Niah has some new interpretations – female, not male;and likely originating from East Asia.

The Deep Skull of Niah. Source: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
The Deep Skull of Niah. Source: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Deep Skull from Niah Cave and the Pleistocene Peopling of Southeast Asia
Front. Ecol. Evol., 27 June 2016 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2016.00075

37,000-year-old skull from Borneo reveals surprise for scientists
Popular archaeology, 27 June 2016

Could this skull rewrite human history? 37,000-year-old cranium found in Borneo may be evidence that ancient Aborigines were not the first to settle in Pacific island
Daily Mail, 27 June 2016

The Deep Skull from Niah Cave in Sarawak (Malaysia) is the oldest anatomically modern human recovered from island Southeast Asia. For more than 50 years its relevance to tracing the prehistory of the region has been controversial. The most widely held view, originating with Brothwell’s 1960 description and analysis, is that the Niah individual is related to Indigenous Australians. Here we undertake a new assessment of the Deep Skull and consider its bearing on this question. In doing so, we provide a new and comprehensive description of the cranium including a reassessment of its ontogenetic age, sex, morphology, and affinities. We conclude that this individual was most likely to have been of advanced age and female, rather than an adolescent male as originally proposed. The morphological evidence strongly suggests that the Deep Skull samples the earliest modern humans to have settled Borneo, most likely originating on mainland East Asia. We also show that the affinities of the specimen are most likely to be with the contemporary indigenous people of Borneo, although, similarities to the population sometimes referred to as Philippine Negritos cannot be excluded. Finally, our research suggests that the widely supported “two-layer” hypothesis for the Pleistocene peopling of East/Southeast Asia is unlikely to apply to the earliest inhabitants of Borneo, in-line with the picture emerging from genetic studies of the contemporary people from the region.

Paper here.