Home English News “Repatriation of ancient prehistoric bones to Penang” – Ramasamy

“Repatriation of ancient prehistoric bones to Penang” – Ramasamy



Repatriation of ancient prehistoric bones to Penang, Malaysia

The Penang state delegation to the Netherlands returned last night. It was an eventful trip to receive four boxes of ancient human bones that were unearthed during the British colonial period but kept by the Dutch authorities in their national museum.

These bone fragments were unearthed in the Guar Kepah area of Penang during the British colonial period.


A few years ago a skeletal structure of a woman who died 5,700 years ago was unearthed and carbon dated under the expert guidance of Prof. Mokhtar Saidin formerly of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Subsequently, the discovery of the skeletal structure led to the declaration of the “First Penang Woman”. The four boxes containing  the 41 bone fragments were opened in the presence of the Malaysian delegation.

The bones would not be immediately repatriated given the fact that archaeological gallery is yet to be ready in Guar Kepah, Penang.

However, before the bones are repatriated, we have requested the museum authorities in the Netherlands to carbon date them regarding the age of the bones.

Isotope investigation will determine the dietary habits of the ancient human beings.

It is believed that they might be around 3000 to 4000 years old.
The return of the pre-historic bones to Malaysia was part of the larger effort on the part of the Netherlands government to return the archaeological items to their original locations worldwide.

On the first day of the official meeting with the Dutch authorities at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands, Datuk Nadzirah Osman was present with some embassy staff.

I led the delegation accompanied by Yb Yeoh Soon Yin, the head of CMI, Puan Datin Bharathi Suppiah, Prof. Mokhtar Sadin and others.