The National Heritage Department of Malaysia and the Global Archaeological Research Center (GARC) at the University of Science (USM) announced last week that they had discovered an ancient Buddhist temple structure in Bukit Choras, in the north of the island. from Penang and about 70 kilometers from the border with Thailand. . The structure is believed to be 1 years old and dates back to the Pallava dynasty in southern India.
Excavation work at the site began on August 28. Department of National Heritage Commissioner Mohd Azmi Mohd Yusof described the findings as the most significant archaeological discovery in Malaysia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temple is estimated to cover an area of nine square meters, but further excavation will be needed to determine its exact dimensions. Currently, researchers estimate the work is about 40 percent complete. Archaeologists have noted that the temple is the largest ever discovered in this valley and its architectural features make it an exciting discovery.
“The most unique feature of this discovery is that most of the artifacts are still intact, with the temple still retaining its complete structure,” Yusof said. “We hope to make more discoveries to contribute elements to the Kedah civilization besides adding a new archaeotourism product to the state. » (New Strait Times)
“This is the first discovery under a pilot project following a memorandum of understanding signed between the department and 11 local universities,” Yusof said at a press conference after visiting the site on September 22.
The team was led by GARC Chief Researcher Dr. Nasha Rodziadi Khaw, who noted: “The uniqueness of the temple at this archaeological site lies first in the manner in which it has been preserved. We can see that the condition of the walls in the north, west, and southern areas are well preserved. Second, we found two human-sized stucco structures. . . and the discovery of stucco was not reported in the Bujang Valley but only in Sumatra and Java. (South Asian Archaeology)
Also present at the press conference were USM Vice-Chancellor Professor Abdul Rahman Mohamed and GARC Director Professor Stephen Chia.
Professor Mohamed said the university would continue to work with GARC to promote future archaeotourism projects in the region: “There are many that remain to be explored in Bujang Valley as we need more time to carry out the excavation work. More importantly, these discoveries will allow us to revisit historical events written by Western historians. (New Strait Times)
According to Dr Khaw, there were similarities between the Bukit Choras temple and temples in West Java and Sumatra, raising questions about the cultural relationships between this site and others in Southeast Asia. “Statues and artifacts discovered at the site will be brought back to GARC USM for conservation and further research,” he said. (New Strait Times)
Dr Khaw explained that the excavation work carried out on September 8 had unearthed the entire western wall of the temple and half of its northern and southern walls, as well as the stair structures at its base, adding that the site was special because it was until now north of the other sites.
Work on the site is expected to resume by December. Meanwhile, the team hopes to discover the remaining structure.
According to 2020 census data, 63,5% of Malaysia's population practices Islam. Buddhists make up 18,7 percent of the population, Christians 9,1 percent and Hindus 6,1 percent. The remaining 9 percent follow various other religious traditions.