The oldest stone tools found in Southeast Asia potentially rewrites our understanding of human origins

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A hand axe found in Perak, peninsular Malaysia has been dated to 1.83 million years, making it the oldest stone tool discovered in the part of the world. More significantly, this find also raises some serious questions about the out-of-Africa hypothesis of human origin. The oldest modern man in Southeast Asia is dated to around 50-60,000 years ago, and the oldest hominid fossil, Java Man (homo erectus) is placed between 1 and 1.7 million years ago. It’s been all over the news this weekend, and I’m sorry for not posting this up sooner especially seeing how I am at the said Centre for Archaeological Research in Universiti Sains Malaysia (I’ve been away to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year).

The soil in which the tools were discovered in were dated by fission-track dating, but they do have a wide margin of error of about 600,000 years. At this stage, the results haven’t been independently verified.

Lenggong had early humans 1.8m years ago
The Star, 29 January 2009

Rewriting ‘Out of Africa’ theory
New Straits Times, 30 January 2009

Early axes found in Perak
The Star, 30 January 2009

Malaysian scientists find stone tools ‘oldest in Southeast Asia’
AFP, 31 January 2009

Malaysia Says 1.8 Million-year-old Axes Unearthed
Sin Chew Jit Poh, 31 Jan 2009
Read More

Ministry To Fund Archeological Research In Bukit Tengkorak

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21 April 2007 (Bernama) – Archaeological research in Bukit Tengkorak, Sabah, on a prehistoric ceramics manufacturing site is set to continue, to unravel more answers on the migration and dispersal routes from island Southeast Asia to the pacific islands.

Ministry To Fund Archeological Research In Bukit Tengkorak

The Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry will allocate sufficient funds to enable the archeological research in Bukit Tengkorak to continue.

The National Heritage Department, meanwhile, will fully finance the repair of public facilities in the area for visitors’ comfort.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim told reporters this when visiting Bukit Tengkorak, about 10km from Semporna town, today.

The archeological research in Bukit Tengkorak, located about 500ft above sea level, and its surrounding areas began in 1994 by a team from the Malaysian Archeological Research Centre of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in cooperation with the Sabah Museum Department.

The research shows that Bukit Tengkorak was probably the biggest porcelain manufacturing site in Southeast Asia, especially during the Neolithic age.

Over five million pieces of ceramic wares with various patterns, aged about 3,000 years, have been found there.


Related Books:
Southeast Asia: From Prehistory to History by P. S. Bellwood and I. Glover (Eds)
Man’s conquest of the Pacific: The prehistory of Southeast Asia and Oceania by P. Bellwood