Sand dredge digs up ancient ceramics in Pahang river

Heritage director-general Mesran Mohd Yusop (centre) with project leader Dionysius S.K Sharma and archaeology division director Ruzairy Arbi at the site today. (Facebook pic)

PEKAN: A number of artefacts were recovered at a sand mine in Sungai Pahang recently believed to date back to the Tang, Song and Ming dynasties, as well as the Malacca and Pahang Sultanates.

They were discovered by accident last week in sand suction equipment by the mine operator, said archaeology buff Dionysius S.K Sharma, who has been appointed by the National Heritage Department as research project leader.

The director-general of heritage, Mesran Mohd Yusop, said most of the artefacts are pieces of Song celadon ceramics, Ming ceramics, as well as ancient Chinese and Malay coins.

“A team of divers found some artefacts (at a depth of 15m) near a wooden structure believed to be a ship. But further investigation is needed,” said Sharma. The search was performed over three days after the first discovery and supervised by the heritage department.

“A lot of the ceramics looked like they had new cracks because of the dredging machinery and some looked like they were broken a long time ago,” said Mesran at a press conference today also attended by archaeology division director, Ruzairy Arbi.

The department will conduct further research for archaeological dating which will provide a new and better understanding of the ancient maritime trade here, he said.

“We hope that through this discovery we will uncover the cultural history of Pahang, particularly of Pekan,” said Mesran. The team will look for as many artefacts as possible in hopes of finding something of greater significance like unbroken pottery.

He urged the public to report archaeological finds as required under the National Heritage Act 2005.