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Wednesday January 13, 2010

Ancient coins and artefacts found in Terengganu’s Chinatown worksite

KUALA TERENGGANU: Earth-works for the new ring road and sewage system in Chinatown here have uncovered hundreds of ancient coins and other artefacts.

And there is concern that workers at the site and the public may have been quietly digging up these items to sell.

Site manager Omar Mahmod said many items might have been sold before he realised that his worksite contained buried treasures when he uncovered a porcelain vase that he believed was from ancient China.

He questioned his workers and discovered that many items had been found at the site.

Priceless relics: A foreign worker showing the coins that he extracted from the constuction site at the back of the Kuala Terengganu Chinatown.

“Many of these artefacts were found when we started earth excavation in February last year, but the workers concealed their find from us at first,” he said yesterday.

Realising that the items were being sold off on the quiet, he directed the workers to declare any artefacts found from the site.

He also directed his colleagues to comb the area to search and hand over the relics to museum authorities.

“Those who comb the area after a heavy downpour can be sure of finding such artefacts,” he said.

Since discovering the porcelain vase, Omar has dug out coins with early Jawi writing, Arabic script and ancient Chinese emblems, ancient Indian ornaments and Chinese jars, plates and vases.

An Indonesian worker from the site who requested anonymity said he surrendered most of the artefacts to his superior but admitted he had sold some to collectors.

“Such coins are collectors’ items some of which I will take back to Surabaya,” he said.

State MCA chief Toh Chin Yaw said the items were priceless and part of the state’s history. He said the contractor had been asked to declare any future discovery of artefacts. “We want to preserve valuable items extracted at the site for our future generations,” he said.

Toh said he had informed the relevant authorities to visit the site and claim any artefacts found.

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