Archaeologist Prof Datuk Mokhtar Saidin had long suspected that there was something preserved underneath an old house that has been torn down in Guar Kepah, North Seberang Prai district. His suspicions weren’t very far off at all.
As piling works during the construction for a neolithic gallery at Guard Kepah began, a backhoe that was digging up the site uncovered parts of a human bone, believed to be the femur part, 70cm below the house floor.
This was confirmed by Prof Datuk Mokhtar Saidin himself during a press conference at Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office yesterday (Wednesday, 19th April 2017).
“We have yet to do carbon dating because we just discovered it, but it is estimated to be around 5,000 years old. So the construction work has been stopped and we will start excavation works today. With the discovery, we immediately stopped the digging works and took over to conduct the excavation and so far, we have uncovered parts of a skull and rib cage with pottery fragments,” he said, adding that the discovery was important for the country as it proved that humans were here during ancient times.
CM Lim Guang Eng confirmed that all construction works have been ordered to stop and the site has been cordoned off to allow Prof Datuk Mokhtar Saidin and his team to excavate the site. He also said that the state government was committed to protecting the findings, allocation an additional RM20,000 for the excavation tools, payment for workers, field analysis, carbon dating, and scientific analysis.
Once fully excavated, the skeleton will be brought back to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for carbon dating. Archaeologists from USM, headed by Centre of Global Archaeological Research director Prof Datuk Mokhtar Saidin, will study the findings for 2 weeks.
The prehistoric Guar Kepah site, believed to be Malaysia’s final remaining Neolithic stone age site, features shell middens or mounds that date back more than 5,000 years. It was where the British had found bones during the 1800s and was recently marked to be made into a gallery to display all the artefacts found on the site.
The Penang government is in the midst of talks to have 37 bones found by Sir G. W. Earl on the site in 1860, which are now at the National Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden, Holland, to be kept at the gallery.