5,000-year-old skeleton found in Guar Kepah


KEPALA BATAS: The latest discovery of human skeleton, aged probably between 5,000 and 6,000 years, at the construction site of an archaeology gallery in Guar Kepah here on Monday proved the existence of prehistoric people in Peninsular Malaysia during Neolithic period.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre director Professor Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin said he also believed that the discovery was the only human skeleton from the period ever found buried underneath a shell mound in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said based on initial research, the human bones might belonged to a woman who was buried according to the ritual of the ancient people using pottery, shell and mussel.

“The skeleton, from waist to head, was found in a good condition and buried underneath a shell mound which was believed to be the culture of the people of that period. However, the femur part was hit by a backhoe during the excavation works.

“It was (also) found lying to the right side with both hands placed on the chest...there were also pottery (fragments) and hunting equipment made of stone. Based on the teeth, the skeleton is believed to be of a woman but we need to conduct (more) studies to ascertain the gender, age, cause of death and genetics,” Mokhtar told reporters at the excavation site here today.

The skeleton was found when a contractor from the Public Works Department was digging up the area to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the gallery, causing an immediate stop to the construction as focus was on finding the remnants of the bones and ancient artifacts.

Mokhtar, who is also an archaeologist, said the discovery was long-awaited as the gallery would not only house the human skeleton of Neolithic period, but also the ancient artifacts that were once used.

“That“s an important finding that gives us an idea of how human lived during that age. We also discovered seven types of shells, as well as pig and deer carcasses, telling us of their diet. Now, we have the human skeleton. The discovery is complete,” he said.

Mokhtar said that as soon as the skeleton managed to be excavated and removed in two weeks” time, it would be sent to USM for scientific tests and analysis.

He also said the skeleton was found at the most bottom part of the site, suggesting that the human belonged to the lowest tier of the community, as other skeletons on the top layer had been removed when British archaeologists found the first skeleton over there in 1860.

“The early civilisation area was discovered by British researchers in 1860s with nine skeletons were unearthed, and now being placed in Leiden, the Netherlands for study purposes.

“USM has been conducting excavation works and research (at the site) since 2010, and we have proposed for the state government to erect an archaeological gallery in the area as it is an important site in the archaeological map of the world,” said Mokhtar. He said the state government had provided a 2.4-acre (0.971 hectares) site in Guar Kepah and RM830,000 for the construction of the gallery, to be completed in October.

Mokhtar also said based on the discovery, humans lived in the Neolithic era mostly lived near the sea and went through life as fishermen.

The Neolithic period site at Guar Kepah, which is older than the ancient civilisation site of Lembah Bujang and Sungai Batu in Kedah, was the only prehistoric site in the peninsula that served as evidence of humans living near coastal area. –- Bernama