GEORGE TOWN, May 10 — The neolithic archaeological site of Guar Kepah is now open to visitors with a replica of the 5,710-year-old ”Penang Woman” on display there.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) director and archaeologist Datuk Mokhtar Saidin said there is now a site management system in place there.
“A tent was set up on the site for the public to visit and we have placed a replica of the Penang Woman near where she was found at the site,” he told a press conference together with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow at USM this morning.
He said the archaeological unit under the Chief Minister Incorporated will manage the Guar Kepah site.
Archaeological works on the site have already completed and it is now being conserved as a Guar Kepah archaeological gallery.
Mokhtar said the original “Penang Woman” is still being carefully conserved in USM.
“She needs to be in a temperature and humidity controlled environment so we have to keep her here until the state can prepare such a place for her,” he said.
The skeleton was found during digging works at Guar Kepah back in 2017.
The skeleton was the first and only remaining Neolithic skeleton found in a shell midden in Malaysia.
A total 41 skeletons from three shell middens identified as A, B and C in Guar Kepah were excavated by British archaeologists between 1851 and 1934 and those skeletons are now in the National Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden, Holland.
Shell middens refer to mounds of kitchen debris consisting mostly of shells and other food remnants. They are indicative of ancient human settlement and were sometimes used as burial sites.
The “Penang Woman” was discovered in shell midden C, almost fully intact, though her legs were partially destroyed by the backhoe's digging works.
Her arms were folded and she was surrounded by pottery, stone tools and several different types of shells, an indication of her somewhat important position in society then.