BY TEOH TEIK HOONG AND AUDREY EDWARDS
PETALING JAYA: Artefacts dated older than the Malacca Sultanate have been found in the area where the lost city of Kota Gelanggi is said to be located.
These finds have reinforced claims of the existence of the ancient site which independent researcher Raimy Che-Ross said he had located last year.
Archaeologist Professor Datuk Dr Nik Hassan Suhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman said excavation teams had found proof that there had been settlements near the area prior to the 14th century.
“People have always believed that the settlements or kingdoms in Johor came after the fall of Malacca based on pottery and tombstones that were excavated,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Dr Nik Hassan Suhaimi, who is attached to the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation, also said that discoveries inside an old fort were dated at between the ninth and 12th century.
He was commenting on the discovery of what was believed to be the site of Kota Gelanggi by Raimy.
Dr Nik Hassan Suhaimi said nothing could be confirmed about the existence of the lost city until more fieldwork had been carried out.
“We have an expedition planned this year,” he said.
He had started the survey on the area in 1977 and has had excavation teams working in the vicinity.
“If at all a kingdom is found, it is likely we will find forts or protective walls made from brick, stone or earth. Presumably, there will also be a Hindu or Buddhist temple there, “ he added.
Johor Heritage Foundation deputy director Mohd Ismail Zamzam said what had been highlighted by Raimy reinforced the foundation’s work in the area.
“The foundation with the help of archaeologist Dr Nik Hassan Suhaimi had begun work to verify the existence of a Malay civilisation at this site since 1996.
“Our objective is to confirm the existence of a civilisation which dates back even further than Malacca,” he said.
The Malaysian branch of the Royal Asiatic Society secretary Datuk Henry Barlow said the society published Raimy’s work as it was of great significance to the country.