Negeri Sembilan’s rainbow cave dig

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via Seremban Online, 06 August 2018: The archaeology team from Universiti Sains Malaysia is currently excavating a cave site called Gua Pelangi in Negri Sembilan.

It’s not easy being the Prof, but you can tell from his smile he wouldn’t have it any other way. Squatting six feet underground, at the bottom of a carefully measured square plot in the confines of a steamy, humid cave near Kuala Pilah, Prof Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin sweeps away some dirt with a soft brush, scratches his head, leans against the muddy wall, then for three or four minutes makes some notes and draws some simple diagrams-it’s not the most glamorous part of the job done by USM Global Archaeology Research Centre director professor Mokhtar but it is exciting.

Source: Negeri Sembilan’s rainbow cave dig | serembanonline

New gallery for Neolithic site in Penang

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An archaeological gallery will be set up for the Guar Kepah site in Penang, a Neolithic shell midden site. It appears that the shell middens were also used as burial mounds.

Guar Kepah excavation, The Sun 20120227

Guar Kepah excavation, The Sun 20120227

New gallery to showcase 6,000-year-old culture
The Sun, 27 February 2012
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Indian scholars highlight links between Tamil kingdoms and Bujang Valley

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Speaking after their recent presentations on Bujang Valley in Kuala Lumpur in July, some Indian scholars note the important role that Bujang Valley in Kedah, Malaysia, played in the spread of Buddhism, Hinduism and the Pallava Grantha script in the region.

Remnants of a relationship [Link no longer available]
The Hindu, 19 August 2010
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Calls for protection, nomination and more research at Bujang Valley

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Plans are bing made to nominate the Bujang Valley in Kedah as a World Heritage Site, as a result of archaeological work carried out there over the last 20 years; at the same time, researchers are calling for the protection of sites and expansion of research questions to better understand what went on in Kedah in the early centuries AD.
New Discoveries At Bujang Valley To Be Nominated For Heritage Status
Bernama, 06 July 2010

Declare Sungai Batu Area National Heritage Site – Researcher
Bernama, 07 July 2010

In-Depth Studies Needed To Establish Bujang Valley’s Early History – Archeologists
Bernama, 07 July 2010

The Bujang Valley rises at last
The Sun, 08 July 2010
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Malaysia’s Bujang Valley larger than originally thought

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The extent of human settlement at Bujang Valley in Malaysia’s northern state of Kedah is larger than originally thought, with the discovery of a set of new iron smelting sites enlarging the settlement area from 400 square km to 1,000 square km. Bujang Valley was populated between the 3rd-11th century and probably played an important role in the maritime trade between India and Southeast Asia. Current research at Bujang Valley is being presented at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, which ends tomorrow. The research at Bujang Valley has been receiving a lot of attention in the last two years have been great, with the government lending its support behind it – this should mean in the next few years we should be reading more news about the site as more papers get published.

Bujang Valley larger than thought [Link no longer available]
The Star, 02 July 2010

Malaysia’s Hindu-Buddhist civilisation spread over 1,000 sq km [Link no longer available]
Kuala Lumpur News, 04 July 2010

Bujang valley continues to amaze historians [Link no longer available]
The Sun, 05 July 2010

Southeast Asian History Needs A Rewrite?
Bernama, 05 July 2010

Cabinet keen on further research on Bujang Valley [Link no longer available]
The Sun, 06 July 2010

Ministry To Focus On Bujang Valley Research Under 10MP
Bernama, 06 July 2010
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Evidence for iron smelting discovered in Malaysia


New discoveries from the Bujang Valley, an hour away from Penang. While the news seems to stress on the 300 CE date of the Bujang Valley complex, this news isn’t actually new – what is significant about the find is the presence of apparently non-religious structures, particularly one used for metalworking. Until now, there has been little evidence for local metalworking in Malaysia for this period. This current investigation is part of a larger project to turn the bujang Valley into a heritage park. Oh, and there’s been a name change: the Centre for Archaeology Research, Malaysia is now the Global Centre for Archaeology Research.

Archaeologists find prehistoric building
Bernama, 04 March 2009

Civilisation dating back 300 A.D. found

The Sun, 04 March 2009

More sites of Bujang Kingdom
New Straits Times, 05 March 2009
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The oldest stone tools found in Southeast Asia potentially rewrites our understanding of human origins


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
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Spotlight on Sabah's stone age culture

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22 April 2007 (New Straits Times) – Today’s NST features a special spotlight on the stone age culture – past and ethnographic present. The first story is about the prehistory ceramics industrial site at Bukit Tengkorak (Tengkorak Hill).

New Straits Times, 22 Apr 2007

SpotLight: Stone Age Potters

Tampi villagers today don’t think twice about using clay from the foot of Bukit Tengkorak and nearby areas in southeastern Sabah for their pottery, digging wells for fresh water, burning wood for fuel and eating a wide range of fish, shellfish and molluscs.

But most of them are unaware that from about 3,000 until 2,000 years ago, people at the summit of the 600-foot hill did the same–when the Semporna peninsula was a late Stone Age population hub and craft centre.

Experts from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), the Sabah Museum Department and the Department of Natural Heritage have found millions of sherds which show that the site about five kilometres from Semporna town was one of the largest, if not the largest, pottery making sites in Island Southeast Asia (SEA) and the Pacific during the Neolithic era (the last part of the Stone Age, beginning 8,000 BC).

Their findings have overturned some theories about how prehistoric people lived and traded in the region.

Until the excavations here, archaeologists believed that long-distance sea trade and migration of people in insular SEA and the Pacific moved east from Melanesia (near Papua New Guinea) to Polynesia, leaving behind what is known as the “Lapita culture” of pottery, stone tools and ornaments.

“Our research at Bukit Tengkorak shows that 3,000 years ago, people were not only moving east towards New Britain in Melanesia but also westwards towards Sabah,” explains Dr Stephen Chia of USM’s Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia, who based his PhD thesis on the site.

“This is one of the longest trading routes in the world during the Neolithic period,” says the archeochemist who found obsidian (a volcanic glass used to make tools) at the site and traced it chemically to Talasea in New Britain, 3500 kilometres away. His fieldwork in Southeast Asia also found stone tools and pottery similar to Bukit Tengkorak in the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Sulu Archipelago and Sulawesi.

The second story covers the Bajau people who live in the vicinity of Bukit Tengkorak on the Semporna peninsula of Sabah – the clay stoves produced by the Bajau are remarkably similar to the 3,000-year-old stoves unearthed nearby, implying an unbroken ceramics manufacturing tradition.

New Straits Times, 22 Apr 2007

Bajaus carrying on a long tradition

The finished handiwork of this Bajau woman in Sabah’s southeastern Semporna peninsula looks exactly like the 3,000-year-old stove unearthed at nearby Bukit Tengkorak.

“Pottery has been made like this for hundreds of years,” says Rogayah. “Each house has a stove to grill fish or satay and cook rice.”

“The way of life of the Bajaus today and the food they eat are similar to what we found on site,” says Dr Stephen Chia of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia.

“We think that the nomadic Bajau Laut may have landed here to trade, mend their nets, dry fish and bury their dead, but it was the settled coastal Bajaus who made the pottery.”
However, he cautions: “The people of Bukit Tengkorak could also be a totally different group of maritime people who shifted here and then moved on.”

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