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26 February 2011
Bukit Bunuh: a major Palaeolithic site in Malaysia

Archaeologists recently announced that a 4 km square Palaeolithic complex in Bukit Bunuh (Malaysia) is in fact one of the oldest geochronologically dated sites outside Africa, with occupations dating back to 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," said Assoc. Prof. Mokhtar Saidin, the Director of the Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia. "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 this is the only Palaeolithic site in the world with a stone tools workshop that continued to be used periodically from 1.83 million years ago. Research at Bukit Bunuh has also uncovered evidence supporting the theory that the disappearence of the local Paleolithic culture was caused by 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.
     Last month, the Malaysian National Heritage Department submitted a report to UNESCO; a team from the agency of the United Nations is expected to visit the site in July this year and the results will be announced next year. "This recognition is crucial to ensure that the artefacts, including thousands of suevite stones in this area are preserved as national heritage. 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," said Mokhtar.

Edited from Researchsea.com (18 February 2011)

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