THE Penang government has again urged the Federal Government to allocate funds for the setting up of the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery in Guar Kepah.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state has brought up the matter to the Federal’s attention numerous times but has yet to receive any good news.
“We hope that the Federal Government can allocate the funds under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
“The proposed Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery project is important for us to conserve and preserve the artefacts and historical findings.
“It is more about preserving the historical value.
“The radiocarbon dating done on the historical findings here showed that they were over 5,000-years-old.
“We have to preserve these historical discoveries for our future generation,” Chow told Buletin Mutiara at the Guar Kepah archaeological site today.
He said that the state would also consider allocating some funds for the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery project.
Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy said the estimated cost to set up the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery is RM10 million.
He also urged the Federal Government to protect and gazette historical sites in the northern region.
“I remembered an incident a few years back that a housing developer had demolished a candi in Bujang Valley, Kedah,” he said.
Dr Ramasamy said he was proud of Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Global Archaeological Research archaeologist Prof Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin and his team for the job well done.
“We wouldn’t have achieved what we have now without their expertise and assistance,” he said.
Prof Mokhtar said that the Guar Kepah historical site has been researched by the British, as early as 1851.
“In the early years, a total of 41 skeletons had been excavated by the British archaeologists and they were brought to the museum in Leiden, the Netherlands.
“According to our records, there were three shell middens in Guar Kepah. Sadly, two had been destroyed due to housing and agriculture in the past,” he said.
Prof Mokhtar said the skeleton of the ‘Penang Woman’ that was found at the Guar Kepah archaeological site in 2017 was the first and only Neolithic skeleton found in a shell midden in Malaysia.
The radiocarbon dating showed that the remains of the ‘Penang Woman’ was approximately 5,710 years old, with a margin of error of plus or minus 30 years.
Middens are basically prehistoric refuse pits that normally contain waste products after a meal is finished, such as shells and bones.
“We have also found historical artefacts such as stone tools, pottery and food wastes at the Guar Kepah archaeological site.
“We have about 500 specimens ready to be showcased after the gallery is set up,” he said.
Prof Mokhtar said that there is a need to have a proper archaeological gallery to conserve and preserve the skeleton.
“The state can capitalise on this archaeotourism product to promote Penang,” he said.
The Penang Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) and the state archaeology unit are now managing the Guar Kepah archaeological site.
Also present were Penang Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, Chow’s political secretary Teh Lai Heng, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, Seberang Perai City Council mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud and CMI deputy general manager S. Bharathi.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Chan Kok Kuan
Video by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis