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19 January 2008
Return of prehistoric human remains in Malaysia

Malaysian Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim will leave for England next week to secure the return of prehistoric Cha Cave (Gua Cha) human skeletons currently kept at University of Cambridge's MacDonald Institute of Archaeology. The skeletons from the Kelantan cave, dated to about 5,000 years ago, were taken out of Malaysia in the 1950's by the former Taiping Museum director, G. de G. Sieveking, to his house in the United Kingdom. Sieveking (1925-2007) was a prehistoric archaeologist, best known for his work on flint and flint mines. A PhD student at the University of Cambridge, he carried out excavations in Malaysia in the 1950's, notably at Cha Cave.
     According to a statement from the ministry's National Heritage Department, the minister would lead a delegation to formalise the repatriation of the skeletons, deemed as important and priceless evidence of ancient population in Malaysia. The department said Cha Cave, situated on the bank of the Nenggiri River in Hulu Kelantan, is an important prehistoric site in Southeast Asia and has revealed about 40 skeletons. "These skeletons are important as research material and reference as they have the potential of providing information on the development of prehistoric population in Malaysia," it added in the statement.
     According to records, the discovery of the 300 sq metre Cha Cave was first reported in 1936 by H.D. Noone. Several extensive research on the historical significance of the cave was conducted by Sieveking in 1954.

Source: Bernama (17 January 2008)

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