via The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, 19 July 2020: Research on the Guar Kepah site in Penang, Malaysia.
Guar Kepah is the only known prehistoric coastal habitation site along the Straits of Malacca, excluding those found in Sumatra. The site of Guar Kepah on the western coast of Malaysia is believed to have been situated on a stranded beach ridge and in close proximity to the Muda River during its period of human settlement. As such, this site is critical for examining long term coastal habitation during this time. In this paper, we examine prehistoric shoreline changes and Muda River shifts through time prior to assessing their degree of impacts on Guar Kepah using 2-Dimensional Resistivity Imaging (2-DRI). 2-DRI profiles show three soil layers composed of sandy-clay, shell, and sand over 4 m in depth. The layers deepen toward the west, in the direction of the shoreline. The physical characteristics of these layers indicate that people who settled Guar Kepah in the past lived in close proximity to the shoreline. Meanwhile, the trend of Muda River shifting also suggests that the river used to be further north than its current location. This indicates that human settlement at Guar Kepah was centered on the coast rather than the river. A strong correlation between shell middens at Guar Kepah and those around the world supports global coastal adaptation during the Holocene. As the only shell middens discovered in Malaysia, this study has potential for helping to track human migration, language, and population diversity in this part of Southeast Asia.