Bukit Bunuh-the oldest Palaeolithic site outside Africa

Monday, February 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - A Palaeolithic complex in Malaysia’s Bukit Bunuh is one of the oldest geochronologically dated sites outside Africa, archaeologists have suggested.

According to the researchers at the Center for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, the site was inhabited from more than 1.83 million years ago, and later occupation phases from 40,000 years ago and 30,000 years ago.

“Evidence indicates that this site had always been occupied,” Archaeological News quoted Mokhtar Saidin, director of the centre, as saying.

“Bukit Bunuh was chosen as the site for early settlement as it not only provided the natural resources needed to make stone tools but was an ancient environment that had water resources from ancient lakes, flora and fauna,” he said.

The discovery of a series of hand-axes, announced on 2009, indicated that the site is the only Palaeolithic habitat with a stone tools workshop that was used periodically from 1.83 million years ago.

Researchers also found evidence supporting the theory that the local Palaeolithic culture was disappeared due to a meteorite impact 1.83 million years ago.

This was provided by geomorphologic evidence, the presence of suevite stone-a type of rock formed by the impact of meteorite - and the geology of the area.

The Malaysian National Heritage Department has reported the finding to UNESCO last month and a team is expected to visit the site in July 2011.

“This recognition is crucial to ensure that the artefacts, including thousands of suevite stones in this area are preserved as national heritage,” said Saidin.

“There should be on-going research to get a true picture of the people who settled in this area since 1.83 million years ago and this can change several theories about the Palaeolithic people such as the nomadic theory and movement of prehistoric man,” he added. (ANI)

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