14/05/2024 06:59 PM

KEPALA BATAS, May 14 (Bernama) --  The Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery project here is entering into its final phase of construction, with 98 per cent of it completed, and expected to open to the public at the end of this year, said Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai.

He said the project on the 2.39 acre (0.97 hectare)-Guar Kepah Archaeological Site is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of this year, but will open at the end of the year taking into account the phase of moving the Guar Kepah skeletons and artefacts.

"This project commenced on Nov 14, 2022, and so far 98 per cent of it has been completed. There is only a little left to be done involving some internal and external works, in addition to the layout of the exhibition space to house the skeletons in question," he said at a press conference after reviewing the project's progress here today.

"In future, the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery will be a main tourist attraction in the Northern area of ​​Peninsular Malaysia."

Wong said the gallery will house the main exhibit, the Guar Kepah human skeleton known as the ‘Penang Woman' that is more than 5,000 years old and was found in 2017.

Apart from this, 41 more human skeletons found in Guar Kepah during an excavation by P.V van Stein Callenfels in 1936 and kept in Leiden, the Netherlands, are in the process of being repatriated (government-to-government) to Malaysia so that they can be kept and exhibited in the gallery.

Wong is confident that the effort to bring back all the skeletons can be realised soon once the construction of the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery is completed.

He said discussions had been held between the Dutch embassy and National Heritage Department recently, and it was understood that the (Malaysian) government is waiting for a response from the Dutch government including the terms and conditions before signing a letter of agreement for the process of repatriating all the skeletons to Guar Kepah.

In the meantime, he said the development of the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery involves the construction of a double-storey structure with a archaeo-edu-tourism concept, including an interactive exhibition hall, a seminar hall, shell mound site, an administration room, and visitor facilities such as a surau, cafe and souvenir kiosk as well as restrooms.

According to Wong, a research laboratory space as well as a storage space for the artefacts and skeletons will also be provided.

The Guar Kepah Archaeological Site had evidence of the prehistoric Neolithic community (around 5000 to 6000 years old) in Penang.




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