PETALING JAYA: The ancient ruins of Lembah Bujang probably covers a larger area than popularly believed, from Bukit Choras in Kedah to Cherok Tok Kun in central Seberang Prai, said a Kedah historian.
“Not many people are aware that mainland Penang was part of Lembah Bujang, that stretches more than 90km,” said Datuk Wan Shamsudin Mohd Yusof, the Kedah chapter chairman of the Malaysian History Association.
Incidentally, Cherok Tok Kun, near Bukit Mertajam, is the hometown of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Wan Shamsudin said while it was pertinent to preserve the history of Lembah Bujang, it was not practical to gazette the entire enclave that could cover more than 1,000 sq km as archaeologists dig deeper into its past.
“But we should at least find a site to assemble all the structures that have been uncovered so far,” he said, supporting the proposal by Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
Wan Shamsudin said Pulau Bidan, Pulau Songsong, Pulau Telur and Pulau Bunting, off the west coast, should be explored for artefacts as they were also part of the Lembah Bujang enclave.
Said to be the richest archaeological area in the country, the valley drew much attention recently after Mukhriz called for the site to be gazetted following a reported destruction of an ancient tomb temple by a housing developer.
The Kedah government has imposed a stop-work order in a move to protect the historical site, where one of 17 candi (religious edifices) were reportedly destroyed.
Excavation and iron smelting works are currently being carried out there by archaeologists.
Wan Shamsudin said contrary to popular belief, Lembah Bujang was not part of the Indian heritage as it boasted of ancient Malay architecture.
“The sculptures, architecture and literary artwork were developed by the Malays, as no similar structures and artefacts had been found in India,” he said, adding that the Indians had come to these parts as traders and not as settlers.
“Similar to designs found in Bali, elements of Hinduism found in the ancient Lembah Bujang structures were influenced by the Malay Hindu culture, and not the Indian Hindu culture,” he said.
Among the historically significant findings were Sanskrit stone inscriptions at Bukit Choras, candi at Merbok, bead factory at Sungai Mas and iron ore smelting furnace, together with tuyere (cylindrical structure to blow air into furnace), at Jeniang.
Iron storage facilities have been found in Sungai Batu.
“This goes to show that the iron was sent from Jeniang to Sungai Batu, some 40km away, for manufacturing, storage and export purposes,” added Wan Shamsudin.
He said the discovery of millions of beads in a storage facility at Sungai Mas showed that Lembah Bujang was a centre for manufacturing costume jewellery as far back as the 4th century.