Over 100 prehistoric Paleolithic artifacts estimated to date back 17,000 years have been found in several caves in Gunung Pulai in northern Malaysia’s Kedah province, according to the National Heritage Department.
Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported Tuesday that archaeologists had unearthed various stone tools, fragments of pottery and river limpets in excavations carried out in Kelambu, Tembus and Akar caves between April and October last year.
The findings are important because they indicate that the area was inhabited in prehistoric times, much earlier than the Sungai Batu archaeological site in Merbok. It also gives clues about prehistoric people’s diets.
“The exploration was to carry out documentation and inventory of the site to obtain the latest archaeological data and to identify any possible discovery of evidence that has not been discovered by previous researchers.”National Heritage Department director General Mesran Mohd Yusop.
According to him, if the artifacts are truly 17,000 years old, it means that the settlement on Gunung Pulai is among the oldest in the country and is older than the Sungai Batu archeological site in Merbok.
He also explained that the discovery made Gunung Pulai a valuable archaeological site for the country’s archaeological data and as a basis for recognising the origins of the ancient community.
However, the discovery of river limpets is considered to be most important as it is evidence of dietary practices of prehistoric peoples there.
The items discovered have been sent off to the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), National University of Malaysia (UKM) and University of Malaya’s (UM) Geology Department for further examination. Authorities said excavations will continue in the region, and they expect new items to be unearthed in February.