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PETALING JAYA: A respected regional archaeologist has cautioned against making early conclusions about the possibility of an ancient city existing in southern Johor.
Assoc Prof John Miksic said anyone seeking such a settlement must realise that a lot of hard work is needed and that the search must be carried out scientifically.
Prof Miksic, who is working in the National University of Singapore's South-East Asian Studies programme and Asia Research Institute, is an expert on the regions early urbanisation.
He was commenting on the interest in Kota Gelanggi after independent researcher Raimy Che-Ross claimed he might have found the lost city.
Prof Miksic, who had attended a briefing by Raimy, said his interpretation of the signs he found in the jungle seemed driven by a goal to prove a point rather than investigating first and drawing conclusions when firm proof is available.
This is not a scientifically valid procedure. I cannot conclude that he is right or wrong at this point. One should avoid prejudicing any scientific investigation by drawing conclusions based on such a small amount of evidence, he added.
He said he believed the city was located further north in Terengganu or Kelantan based on early Chinese accounts which implied that there was a capital of some distance inland.
The location seems to be nearer the Isthmus of Kra than Johor. It seems that in the early first millennium CE/AD, ships did not yet pass through the Straits of Malacca but there were overland routes between the east and west coasts of the Isthmian region, he said.
The Government has set up a team to examine Raimy's claims and renamed the lost city as Kota Purba Linggiu.
An expedition team will go into the area this month.
The team should keep an open mind and be able to discern traces of a settlement which does fit our normal preconceptions based on what we can observe today, said Prof Miksic, adding that preconceived ideas of what an ancient settlement would look like should be avoided.
Bernama said several local archaeologists still doubted the lost city's existence.
Museums and Antiquities Department director-general Datuk Dr Adi Taha said that preliminary visits to the site did not reveal any physical signs of any settlement.
He said there were also no signs there to link to the existence of the lost city such as resources to make construction materials or vegetation as a source of food.
We used remote-sensing images and the services of geologists who had done research there but there were no signs to indicate the existence of a fort in that area, he said.
Now, we have begun the study from the start, beginning with research in the library, oral history through conversations with the local people including those engaged in economic activity and compiling of information from the local Orang Asli community, Dr Adi said.
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