“Perak’s Contribution to Global Archaeology”

Text and photos by Lau Sook Mei

An exhibition at the Darul Ridzuan Museum (17-26 Dec 2010)

The exhibition was jointly organized by USM’s Global Archaeological Research Centre and the museum, with a focus on the archaeological sites in Lenggong Valley, Hulu (Upper) Perak. Lenggong Valley is one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in Southeast Asia .

Various ancient rocks found in Lenggong Valley.

Attractive posters provided information on the excavations in Lenggong Valley while ancient suevite rocks and stone tools were displayed in glass cabinets. Dated to different periods, the tools were found in Bukit Bunuh, Kota Tampan, Bukit Jawa, Gua Gunung Runtuh and Gua Teluk Kelawar. A short computer-generated video showed the impact of the meteorite crash in Bukit Bunuh.

Sone tools embedded in a suevite rock from Bukit Bunuh.

Stony meteorite is a meteorite that consists of silicate minerals. This was from Bukit Bunuh.

The prehistory of Lenggong Valley dates back 1.83 million years, encompassing the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and the Bronze Ages. Prehistoric man had lived along the ancient Sungai Perak, a source of clean water, with an unlimited resource of pebbles for making tools. It was then savannah-like, a place rich in flora and fauna. Then, a meteorite crashed into “Bukit Bunuh” area, which started an inferno that destroyed most of the Palaeolithic sites. Due to the extreme high temperatures different rock types melted. When cooled they formed the suevite rock which is associated with meteorite impact craters. Stone tools, hand axes and chopping tools had been found embedded in such rocks, affirming the existence of prehistoric man in Lenggong Valley before the crash.

Different kinds of stone tools.

Potsherds from Gua Harimau (4,000 - 5,000 years ago)

Replicas of Bronze mould and axe from Gua Harimau (4,000 - 5,000 years ago).

A key exhibit was a replica of the 11,000 year-old Perak Man, the country’s oldest and most complete Palaeolithic skeleton, found in 1991 at Gua Gunung Runtuh.

Shell necklace from Gua Harimau (4,000 - 5,000 years ago).

The exhibition also touched on “rock art”, a communication medium used by the prehistoric man to depict events, experiences and thoughts in three categories: human figures, animal figures and abstract or geometry designs. Although not mentioned some of these could be found at Gua Badak, Lenggong and Gunung Panjang, Tambun.

Rock art of animal figures.

Another feature in the exhibition was the “henyak”, a wind shelter made of palm leaves and bamboo and used by the early hunter-gatherers, the Negrito – an orang asli tribe believed to be the earliest inhabitants in the Malay Peninsula .

Henyak - an early dwelling.

A peep into the Henyak.

Excavation works are still on-going at Lenggong Valley .

In June 2010 the Perak government expressed its intent to make Lenggong Valley a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. It has been nominated by the National Heritage Department. Prehistoric Archaeological Heritage of Lenggong Valley is now on the Tentative List of the World Heritage List.


2 Responses to ““Perak’s Contribution to Global Archaeology””

  1. 1 S.Sundralingam January 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Sook Mei, u did an interesting article. What captivated me was the drawings and the sketches at Gunung Panjang Tambun. I believe these sketches were drawn during the Paleolithic era. During this era, the early man were moving from one place to another quite frequently. They prefer to stay nearby the lakes or riversides, I remember Sook Mei u telling me that this GPT was once surrounded by water. It’s true! Hope the guided trail to GPT would materialize soon. All of us would have the first hand site to view it.

  2. 2 HeriHong February 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    So, Sundra you had your wish come true. You seem to have enjoyed the PHS archaeological trail. Thank you for your report on the trail. As requested, your PHS bloggers have corrected various misconceptions and added bits to make it a good read. It should be out soon.

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