KUCHING: The Santubong area, where people have lived for over 1,000 years, is Sarawak’s richest archaeological region with evidence of an iron smelting settlement and visitors from India and China as early as the 5th century.
It was also part of a trading network linking West Asia, South-East Asia and China between the 11th and 13th centuries.
These and other interesting facts were shared by speaker Rambli Ahmad during the “Santubong @ The Museum” event recently.
Rambli, who gave the 130 guests a personal view of Santubong’s history and heritage, spoke on Alfred Russel Wallace, who wrote the “Sarawak Law” at Santubong, and its many archaeological sites.
Archaeological activities in Santubong started in 1948, earlier than those at Niah Caves, and were led by Tom Harrison, the curator of the Sarawak Museum at the time.
Excavations in the area uncovered Hindu and Buddhist relics from the 9th century as well as Song and T’ang dynasty ceramics.
These and other relics indicate that between the 8th and 13th centuries the area around Sungai Jaong was part of an international trading network which extended from the Middle East to South-East Asia and north to China.
Artefacts excavated from the area remain under the care of the Sarawak Museum Department until today.
After Rambli’s talk, the audience were treated to tours of the Natural History Gallery in the museum’s old building and the Santubong Gallery in Dewan Tun Razak to learn about some of the artefacts excavated from Santubong, besides getting up close and personal with specimens of animals that occur in the area.
The tours were led by volunteer guides trained by the Friends of Sarawak Museum (FOSM) and a member of the Sarawak Heritage Society.
“Santubong @ The Museum” was organised by FOSM in conjunction with the Malaysian Nature Society’s (MNS) Santubong Nature Festival on Nov 9 and 10, which aims to raise awareness about the globally important values of the Santubong area.
Events include nature talks, guided day and night walks, photography workshops, night kayaking, firefly watching, eco-fashion contest, heritage walk, bicycle treasure hunt and musical performances.
FOSM was registered in September last year with a mission to promote the appreciation of Sarawak’s heritage through its museums.
Its activities are divided into three main areas — promoting the role of museums in Sarawak, providing a way for interested people to get involved in museums and providing quality interpretation of museums.