Bujang Valley, one of several Indianised kingdoms in Southeast Asia, existed long before neighbouring empires such as Majapahit (1200 AD) and Sri Vijaya (700 AD).
The early Bujang Valley civilisation between the first and the fifth century (earlier than previously thought) was probably based on animism before coming under Hindu and Buddhist influence from the fifth to the fourteenth century.
Now, here’s the strange thing: most Malaysians and visitors know about Malacca and Penang as historical sites, but few have even heard of the Bujang Valley. (Today is actually George Town World Heritage City Day, a holiday in Penang from this year.) In fact, very few residents of Penang and Kedah know about the fascinating archaeological museum amidst reconstructed Hindu and Buddhist temple foundations, discovered in the valley and relocated to the museum grounds, near a gurgling stream on a lush hill-slope in Merbok in Kedah. The museum is worth visiting if you are interested in the Hindu and Buddhist figurines and other artefacts discovered during excavation.
Archaeological interest covers sites spanning a thousand square kilometre region from Merbok in the north to Bukit Mertajam on mainland Penang in the south. Gunung Jerai, at 1,200 metres the highest peak in Kedah, was the most visible landmark for sea farers heading to the region.
Time to re-write our school history text books, don’t you think?
More information on Bujang Valley in Wikipedia.
Article from http://www.thesundaily.com/article.cfm?id=49019
Bujang valley continues to amaze historians
By: by Himanshu Bhatt (Mon, 05 Jul 2010)
International historians observe archaeological excavations at the site of the 2,000 year old Bujang Valley civilisation in Sungai Batu, Kedah. They have described the man-made structures – the oldest thus far recorded in South-east Asia – as the most pivotal find in the region in the last few decades.
KUALA LUMPUR (July 5, 2010): The Bujang Valley in Kedah, where the oldest recorded man-made buildings in South-East Asia have been discovered, continues to be a source of amazement to historians and achaelogists.
Some of the world’s top historians converged at the archaeological site over the weekend to survey excavation works for the 2,000-year old civilisation which has been hailed in the last few decades as “the most important civilisational find in the region.”
The civilisation there is now known to have existed long before neighbouring empires like Sri Vijaya (700AD) and Majapahit (1200AD).
theSun had reported on March 28 that Malaysian archaeologists had unearthed a 1,900-year-old monument, scientifically dated to 110 AD, built with detailed geometrical precision in Sungai Batu, Kedah.
The monument, which faces the Gunung Jerai mountain, the highest peak in northern Malaysia, is believed to be have been used for ritualistic purposes.
The monument was found surrounded by remnants of advanced iron smelting facilities equipped with furnaces as well as brick jetties built along a river bank.
Dr Stephen Oppenheimer of Oxford University’s school of anthropology described it as “the earliest monumental site” that showed an important role as an industrial and trading centre.
“This is one of the most important finds in South-east Asia for the last couple of decades,” he said.
India’s Gujarat State Archaeology Department director Yadubirsingh Rawat said there was now indisputable evidence that international trading activities had taken place here in that period.
“The settlers here had full knowledge of iron smelting and jetty construction. This means they must have been connected to other places in the world,” he said.
“The discovery shows that the Bujang valley contributed significantly to maritime trade in the region,” he added.
Also found with the monument were various pottery and a Buddhist tablet with Pallava-Sanskrit inscriptions likely to have been made in the 5th century AD.
The discovery, by the Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), was made within a three sq km area where a total of 97 mounds have been found. Thus far only 10 have been excavated.
Dr R. Nagaswamy, former director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department said the western coast of peninsular Malaysia was likely a central point in the sea route of international trade in that period.
“From this we not only gain a deeper understanding of the country, but also of world history,” he said.
He also noted that Kedah had attracted rulers from South India, such as the Chola kings, to send their armies there in the 11th century.
The experts are in Malaysia for a conference on the Bujang Valley.
CGAR had announced last week that it had recently uncovered a new site in Jeriang, Kedah, comprising seven ancient furnaces once used for smelting of iron.
New estimates now show that the Bujang Valley settlement covered an area of about 1,000 sq km, mostly around Gunung Jerai, and not just 400 sqkm as previously believed.
Dated 110 AD, the newly discovered Sungai Batu monument in the Bujang Valley is the oldest recorded man-made building in South-east Asia.