GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is in the process of bringing back 41 human skeletons stored at the National Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, in the first quarter of next year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pix) said these skeletons have been abroad for 150 years.

“The visit to The Hague and Collection Centre Netherlands (CCNL), in the Netherlands was made between March 22 to 24, and it represented a state government initiative to bring home 41 Guar Kepah human skeletons which are Neolithic prehistoric heritage assets that are currently stored at CCNL,“ he said in response to a question by A. Kumaresan (PKR-Batu Uban) at the Penang state assembly meeting here today.

“It was to verify the existence and carry out analysis work on the skeletons...part of these skeletons have been abroad since 150 years ago,” he added.

Chow said through this visit, the Dutch government handed over an agreement letter for the repatriation of the skeletal remains to Malaysia while stating the importance of the Guar Kepah historic assets to be returned to Malaysia as well as the Netherlands’ willingness to fulfill the request to the Malaysian Ambassador in the Netherlands.

He said the Dutch government will also fund an analysis of the dates of the 41 skeletons at the Centre for Isotope Research, University of Groningen. This initiative is expected to save the federal and state governments about RM1.17 million.

“The scientific data will be important data for the skeletons to be exhibited at the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery later, and the Dutch government is showing good cooperation based on its commitment to continue to conserve and preserve the heritage assets of the Penang government and indirectly Malaysia until it is returned to this country in the first quarter of 2024,” he said.

“This relationship will be a main factor in the future investment of the Penang government in the fields of research, education and tourism.

Previously, the media had reported that 41 human skeletons were excavated from three shell middens in Guar Kepah, Kepala Batas in Penang during excavation work by British archaeologists between 1851 and 1934. -Bernama