SUNGAI PETANI, March 4 — Bernama
A group of archaeologists has unearthed two prehistoric buildings from the third century AD in the Bujang Valley recently.
The group, from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research, found a building and a smelting factory, following an excavation project in Sungai Batu, Semeling.
Discovered in two areas near an oil palm plantation in Jalan Lencongan Merbok recently, the buildings proved that an ancient civilisation had existed in the Bujang Valley.
USM Vice-Chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak disclosed today that the discoveries were important historical findings.
He said the date depicted the early beginnings of commercial smelting activities in the Bujang Valley.
The excavation — conducted with the cooperation of the National Heritage Department with an approved grant of RM2.3 million by the unity, culture, arts and heritage ministry -- began on Feb 1, with a total of 70 participants, including USM students.
“This finding is solid proof that the prehistoric civilisation depended on basic knowledge, trade and large-scale industrial production,” he told reporters after a working visit to the site.
The excavation project was headed by USM Centre for Global Archaeological Research director Prof Madya Dr Mokhtar Saidin, and it resulted in two weeks of digging before the buildings were unearthed.
Dzulkifli said the project was part of a plan to develop the National Heritage Department Bujang Valley Heritage Park.
“The finding at Sungai Batu is different from artifacts found in other sites in the Bujang Valley. Previously, archaeologists only found buildings that had the characteristics of ancient temples.
“This latest finding at Sungai Batu I were of bricks believed to be from a house or office, and another at Sungai Batu II which functioned as a smelting factory,” he said.
According to Dzulkifli, both findings were important as it could unravel questions regarding the real date when civilisation started in the Bujang Valley.
Dr Mokhtar said coal samples found at the foundry were sent for Radiocarbon Dating tests at the Beta Analytic Inc, Florida, US, which confirmed that it dated back to the third or fourth century AD.
He added that the Sungai Batu area would be gazetted as the Bujang Valley Heritage Park next year, after research was completed.
The Bujang Valley area consists of almost 300 sq km of land from Gunung Jerai to Sungai Muda, Seberang Perai.
Captain James Low identified the Bujang Valley civilisation after discovering more than 20 temples in Kampung Bujang in 1840.
Research and excavation activities carried out found that the Bujang Valley was a main port in South-East Asia from the fifth century AD to 13 century AD.