3 March 2007 (Brunei Times) – An overview of the ancient history of Brunei.
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.
– Museum Treasures of Southeast Asia by B. Campell
28 November 2006 (Borneo Bulletin) – An account about a school visit to a archaeological site in Brunei, which is already quite illuminating because archaeological reports from this part of the world is rare.
Exploring Brunei’s past
Awang Hj Osman Salleh, a senior research officer from the Archaeology Section, welcomed the visitors and later gave them a brief introduction of the site.
He said the unearthing of artifacts comprising mostly porcelain dating back to the 10th to 13th centuries, which coincided with the Sung and Yuan Dynasties of China, marked a new era in the study of Brunei’s history.
The landmark excavation works commenced on October 21, 2002, unearthing close to 50,000 artifacts. The findings were made by a local company when it carried out an expansion and deepening project at the Limau Manis River.
They came across numerous shards of yellow unglazed earthenware, stoneware decorated in black under a clear glaze, stoneware with a celadon glaze as well as the blue-and-white porcelain.
They also found wooden items such as tops and weights used for fishing nets, beads and bangles used as ornaments as well as a form of trading currency.
Limau Manis was once inhabited by a large settlement that used the river as a means of transportation, for activities such as fishing and washing, as well as for obtaining food, medicine and building materials. Barter trade also existed between the communities living along the river.