YAN: A research team from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have found two structures and an inscription stone almost intact as well as earthenware fragments believed to be dating back some 1,200 years, at the Bukit Choras Archaelogical Site here.

The find by the USM Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR), in collaboration with the National Heritage Department (NHD), was discovered during excavation and research works at the summit of Bukit Choras between Aug 28 and Sept 12.

USM CGAR senior lecturer Dr Nasha Rodziadi Khaw, who led the excavation works, said the finds from the temple site could date back to around the eighth or ninth century AD which is the same as most of the temple sites in the Bujang Valley, and development period of the Srivijaya Empire.

“The uniqueness of this temple at this archaelogocial site is firstly how it has been preserved...we can see that the condition of the walls in the north, west and south areas are well-preserved.

“Secondly, we found two human-sized structures made out of stucco...and the discovery of stucco has not been reported in the Bujang Valley but only in Sumatra and Java,“ he said at a press conference here today.

Nasha said based on preliminary research, there is a similarity between the temple architecture in Bukit Choras and that of temples in West Java and Sumatra, at the same time raising questions about the cultural relationship between Old Kedah and other sites in Southeast Asia.

He said the temple is estimated to measure ​​nine square metres but the actual size can only be confirmed after the excavation work is done, which is currently at 40 per cent completion.

He said the Bukit Choras Archaelogical Site is considered to be special due to its isolated position north of Gunung Jerai, whereas the other archaelogical sites in Bujang Valley are mostly situated south of Gunung Jerai in the areas around Sungai Merbok and Sungai Muda.

Additionally, he said, his team still needs much more research, probably a few years, to be done at the site before a full conclusion can be made regarding the archaeological site.

“We hope our next excavation work will be able to provide more data that can contribute to our knowledge of the history of Old Kedah,“ said Nasha, who also said that the temple is also believed to be the largest ever discovered in the Bujang Valley and its architecture is quite interesting.

Meanwhile, USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Mohamed said the university's research team has been conducting excavation at the archaelogical sites in Bujang Valley since 10 years ago and has been carrying it out with funds from the Ministry of Higher Education.

“So we are working with NHD and also the parties concerned on how we want to develop our archaeotourism; another is to write history which we previously depended on western researchers, but now with this discovery it can be improved,“ he said.

NHD director-general Mohd Azmi Mohd Yusof, who is also Heritage Commissioner, said finding the structures and incriptions as well as earthenware fragments at the archaelogical site could elevate the location to be used as a tourism product like other archaeological sites. -Bernama

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