SUNGAI PETANI: The Sungai Batu Archaeological Complex created history today when it was declared as the earliest and oldest civilisation in Southeast Asia.
The declaration plaque was presented by Oxford University archaeologist Prof Dr Stephen Oppenheimer to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre Director Prof Mokhtar Saidin.
The historic declaration was done at the closing of the Kedah Tua Festival 2016 by Kedah Work, Religious, Tourism and Heritage Committee Chairman Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid, who represented the menteri besar.
Five archaeological experts, representing five world civilisations, namely Mesopotamia, Indus, Mesoamerica, China and Greek-Rome, signed the declaration plaque, Mokhtar told Bernama.
“Unfortunately, Egyptian archaeological expert Dr Zahi Hawas, did not attend the Kedah Tua International Conference, so we did not get his signature on the plaque,” he said.
“He was supposed to attend the conference, but we could not contact him at the last minute. If it is necessary for us to go to Egypt and get his signature, we will go there,” he said.
Mokhtar said the declaration would help facilitate efforts to get recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to make the complex a world heritage site.
Besides, it would also help develop the archaeological site as an archaeo-tourism product, he said.
“Most important is how we want to carry out the site conservation activities in the future,” he added.
The Kedah Tua International Conference, which ended yesterday, was organised in conjunction with the Kedah Tua Festival 2016 to showcase the Kedah Tua civilisation and its importance to the Southeast Asian region.