Archive for February 24th, 2009


Latest archaeological discovery in Malaysia

Here’s a start to this blog. Last night, watching BBC news caught me by suprise. It was my first time watching a report on Malaysian archaeology in an international news channel. Perhaps, it might not be the first time that this (Malaysian archaeology in an international news broadcast) ever happened. After all, Malaysia has produced a few significant archaeological discoveries over the years. Two immediately come to mind: the 40,000 year old skull found at Niah Cave, Sarawak and the Perak Man, a 10,000 year old complete skeleton found at Gua Gunung Runtuh, Perak – but either i was not born yet or i was just a brat who knew nothing about archaeology when the discoveries took place.

Anyhow, i have digressed a little. Wondering what the news was about? Well, it’s about a 1.8 million-year-old axe found in Lenggong, Perak. If this is true, then it will bring up new discussions and debates regarding ancient human migration and will put to question the Out-of-Africa human migration theory.

Here’s a news article, dated 30 Jan, 2009 that came out in various newspapers across the globe. I will comment on this particular news article in future posts.

Dr. Mokhtar Saidin holding 1.8 million-year-old hand axe

Dr. Mokhtar Saidin holding 1.8 million-year-old hand axe


by JULIA ZAPPEI, Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian archeologists have unearthed prehistoric stone axes that they said Friday were the world’s oldest at about 1.8 million years old.

Seven axes were found with other tools at an excavation site in Malaysia’s northern Perak state in June, and tests by a Tokyo laboratory indicate they were about 1.83 million years old, said Mokhtar Saidin, director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Science Malaysia.

The group released their conclusions Thursday, and other archeologists have not yet examined the results.

“It’s really the first time we have such evidence (dating back) 1.83 million years,” Mokhtar said, adding that the oldest axes previously discovered were 1.6 million years old in Africa.

However, other chopping tools, as well as human remains, have been found in Africa that are much older, with some dating back 4 million years, he said.

Geochronology Japan Inc., a lab in Tokyo, calculated the age of the tools by analyzing the rock that covered them, Mokhtar said. The result has a margin of error of 610,000 years, he said.

Some previous discoveries have suggested there were humans in Southeast Asia up to 1.9 million years ago, but those have been disputed, said Harry Truman Simanjuntak, a researcher at the National Research Center of Archaeology in Jakarta.

Simanjuntak cautioned that others still need to investigate claims about the axes’ age.

The oldest previous evidence of human existence in Malaysia was stone tools dating back about 200,000 years, found at the same excavation site in Perak.

The archeologists are trying to find human bone remains in Perak, Mokhtar said, but stressed that it might be unlikely because of decay due to warm, humid climate conditions. The oldest bones found in Perak so far have only been about 10,000 years old.


February 2009
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