Borneo's oldest Palaeolithic site found

More than 200,000 years ago, humans migrated to Borneo where an early settlement was recorded in Lahad Datu. 

State Tourism Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun (second from left) being briefed on the history of the Perak Man by USM Global Archaeological Research Centre director Prof Dr Mokthar Saidin (left) in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. With them is Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan [Credit: Malai Rosmah Tuah/New Straits Times]
The discovery of the Mansuli site, about 50km from the Lahad Datu township, uncovered thousands of prehistoric artefacts dating back as early as 235,000 years ago. 

Discovered by chance, Mansuli is believed to be the oldest Palaeolithic site in the Borneo archipelago. 

Local-born archaeologist Jeffrey Abdullah said in 2003, a team was heading to the Gua Samang Buat archaeological site when they stumbled upon stone tools on the ground, about a kilometre from the cave. 

"We dug the area to uncover more objects and the excavations revealed that the site had been used as a workshop to make stone tools during the Palaeolithic period. 

"This proves that there was early settlement in the area and we've used optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL dating) to find out when it occurred," he said at the "Malaysian Archaeology: Tracing The Ancient Society" exhibition at the Sabah Musuem here yesterday. 

Present were state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Da-tuk Masidi Manjun, Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan and USM Global Archaeological Research Centre director Prof Dr Mokthar Saidin 

The excavations were carried out by the Global Archaeological Research Centre of Universiti Sains Malaysia in cooperation with Sabah Museum. 

According to Jeffrey, OSL dating could determine the age as it relied on the assumption that the mineral grains were sufficiently exposed to sunlight before they were buried. 

Scientific analyses of the artefacts revealed that chert was the most common rock material used to make the stone artefacts. 

Jeffrey said there were many areas in the state that needed to be discovered in terms of archaeology. 

Source: New Straits Times [April 10, 2012]

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