GEORGE TOWN: Archaeologists in Penang discovered twin cannons buried 1.2m below the ground beside Fort Cornwallis at the Esplanade here.
The 2.2m and 2.35m-long cannons, which are believed to be at least 200 years old, were discovered during the excavation of the fort’s moat and outer defensive structures at around 2pm on Monday.
Penang chief archaeologist Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin said the discovery could change Fort Cornwallis’ history as a “peaceful fort” .
“One of the interpretations was that the fort was not involved in any war.
“However, with the discovery of the cannons and cannonballs at the end of last year, we might have to take another look at the fort’s history.
“The diameter is about 10cm. It is quite big, and it must be for war,” he said during a visit to the site yesterday.
Dr Mokhtar, who is also Global Archaeological Research Centre director at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), said the archaeological team was re-examining the fort based on a 1877 map as they were looking for the structure’s main entrance.
“But we ended up with the two cannons at the 0.4ha site. We believe the top parts are made of copper and the inner parts could be iron,” he said.
Dr Mokhtar said the cannons could be even older than two centuries as there were markings of “GR” (George Rex), the symbol of King George III, who reigned in Great Britain from 1760 to 1820.
“There were no markings of any cannons in the 1877 map.
“We will now conserve the artifacts and do a detailed study,” he added.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who granted permission for the excavation to be carried out, described the “double discovery” of cannons this festive period as a “double ang pow” for the state government.
He said the area would be protected and security would be heightened at the archaeological site.
“The state government, in collaboration with George Town Conservation and Development Corporation, is working at rebuilding the moat that used to surround Fort Cornwallis.
“We want to bring the fort back to its original state, complete with a water-filled moat,” he added.