Archaeology fans can get their hands dirty and dig up ancient artefacts at actual excavation sites in Perak and Kedah or at a mock excavation site at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
USM recently launched its archaeotourism package, especially aimed at students and visitors interested in archaeology, for a hands-on tour of actual archaeological sites in Sungai Batu and Lenggong Valley. There is also an USM Archaeology Gallery within the USM compound in Penang that details all of the archaeological sites in Malaysia, with exhibits of artefacts dug up in those excavations.
Malay Mail, 09 June 2017: Given the evidence of intense iron smelting activity in Kedah, archaeologists are now turning their focus to finding evidence of how people lived there and the nature of the settlement.
Tucked between plantations along a quiet country road near Merbok, Kedah, a team of archaeologists and students are busily excavating at a site that is known as South-east Asia’s oldest civilisation.
This is Kedah Tua in Sungai Batu, an ancient civilisation that dates back to 535 BC, earlier even than Borobudur in Java (9th century AD) and Angkor Wat, Cambodia (12th century AD).
That’s not all… this kingdom was a major iron exporter at the time, complete with mines, a smelting factory, a port and administrative buildings to support the industry.
What is missing are remnants of a palace, its thriving city and the burial sites of its people
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
See also: Carbon dating finds ‘Penang Woman’ to be 5,710 years old (The Star, 13 May 2017)
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.
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.
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.
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