A variety of glass fragments found in Bujang Valley.
A variety of beads founds in the Bujang Valley.
The development of Kedah's
early history as in other states in Peninsular Malaysia
was caused by its strategic geographical location. From the point
of prehistory Peninsular Malaysia was at least regarded as a bridge
or a highway upon which man had to pass in their migration from
the north to the south and on to South
East Asia and the Pacific. Later, when the development maritime
trade was at its height, the Peninsula once again played an important
part because of its position between two of the largest trade centres,
i.e. India and other Arab countries to the west and China to the
east. At a time when shipping movement depended on the monsoons,
there was a time when traders needed to wait out for the monsoon
to change in order to make their return journey, and the Peninsula
not only provided the necessary shelter, but the opportunity to
trade among themselves.
Based on the above point, we would find that Kedah had its on
special position, which indirectly contributed to its uniqueness
in the development of its history. Many limestone caves, which offered
both shelter and homes to prehistoric communities, could be found
in the districts of Kubang Pasu, Kota Setar and Baling. What is
even more interesting is the existence of a majestic mountain along
its shores believed to be a landmark for sailors plying the Indian
Ocean in ancient times. Besides, Kedah was easily assessable via
land routes to states in the East Coast of the Peninsular (Wheatley
1961 : xxvi ; Braddle 1980).
All the above factors pointed to a history full of glory for Kedah
in particular and Peninsular Malaysia in general.
Archeological research in Kedah could be divided into two general
sectors, that is early prehistory which included Bujang Valley.
The importance of archeological research in Bujang Valley is never
in dispute, so much so that the popularity of its research had dimmed
researches of other prehistoric communities of a much earlier period
in Kedah history. So, in this paper I feel it would be better for
me to go into prehistoric periods in this State and later go into
discussion on the development of its early history based on present
Archeological research into Kedah's prehistoric period is limited
to cave sites, although some artifacts could be found albeit unintentionally,
in open grounds. H.D. Collings was the first person to reveal the
existence of some prehistoric archeological sites in Kedah based
on his research
in Baling Mountain. Diggings were made in two caves; Gua
Debu and Gua Kelawar (Collings 1936). Among the artifacts found
were stone axes of the Hoabinhian period, stone axes and adzes of the Neolithic period, sharpening
stones, stone pounders and pottery. River snails were the main remains
of food items found on the site while bones of animals were found
in less significant quantities.
What is interesting about the research was the remains of pottery
(Neolithic period) found in the same level of earth which contained
artifacts from Hoabinhian period and according to Collings (1936:10)
there was no sign that that level of earth was ever disturbed. So,
based on these findings, two conclusions could be derived from the
connection between the Hoabinhian and the Neolithic period. They
- Two communities with different cultures but living as neighbours
who interacted between one and the other, or
- One community living in transition from the Hoabinhian period
into the Neolithic period as this involved the use of tools both
old and new.