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The 5,700-Year-Old Neolithic Woman's Face, "Penang Woman," Finally Revealed.
NATURE Malaysia

The 5,700-Year-Old Neolithic Woman's Face, "Penang Woman," Finally Revealed.

With the completion of a facial drawing on July 5, the 5,000-year-old human skeleton known as the Penang Woman, which was discovered nearby in Guar Kepah, Kepala Batas, has finally had a face attached to it.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

Five years after it was discovered, a team of researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and 3D design expert Cicero Moraes from Brazil created the sketch using the Forensic Facial Approximation (FFA) method based on her skull. Moraes is frequently cited as a reference in the field of forensic facial reconstruction in his country.

Shaiful Idzwan Shahidan, a USM researcher and journal correspondent, said the study was conducted by seven USM researchers under the direction of Dr. Johari Yap, a lecturer in oral and maxillofacial radiology at the USM School of Dental Sciences.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

The Penang Woman is the lone skeleton from the Guar Kepah archaeological site, and according to Shaiful Idzwan, who was contacted today, it is a priceless and important cultural artifact. It is the 42nd skeleton discovered by Malaysian researchers on April 19, 2017, and it is kept in Penang.

"The lone Penang Woman skeleton was discovered beneath Bukit Kerang, a mound of shells that is around seven meters high, and that we need to protect for the sake of our shared heritage.

"She is believed to have passed away between the ages of 30 and 35, ranging in height from about 150 cm, and examinations on the skeletal tissue also revealed that this individual consumed a significant amount of protein from rivers or fish," he said.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

He claimed that it took him three to four months and a number of procedures, including a computerized tomography scan (CT Scan) at the USM Hospital in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, to obtain the measurements of the Penang Woman's face.

The 41 skeletons that were retrieved from three shell middens in Guar Kepah, Kepala Batas, will be returned and pursued by the Penang government so that they can be conserved locally.

The bones are currently on display at the National Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden, Holland, where they were discovered by British archaeologists between 1851 and 1934.

Yeoh Soon Hin, head of the State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee, stated that the state government was in discussions about this with the National Heritage Department and other pertinent agencies.

He said that earlier, in July, the National Heritage Department and the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI), the project's main proprietor of Guar Kepah, held a coordination meeting to discuss the idea of returning the skeletons to their native country.

He added that after the meeting, CMI had been in touch with the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden (formerly known as the National Museum of Natural History) through the Penang Archaeology Unit (UANPP) to inquire about the skeletons' condition.

"Delegations are permitted to visit (the facility to view the skeletons) if necessary, and the state government has gotten positive feedback. In accordance with a recent policy announced by the Dutch government regarding its initiative to return cultural artifacts from the colonial era to the countries of origin, which, based on a new guideline, will give priority to objects that were stolen by colonial authorities, the recovery of these skeletons from the Dutch authorities will be pursued "said he.

He added that before developing further action plans, the Penang administration had sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry at the beginning of this month asking for assistance in setting up a meeting with the Dutch Embassy.

"After the Guar Kepah Archaeology Gallery is outfitted with cutting-edge machinery and facilities to keep and maintain them, we anticipate receiving the bones in 2024.

He told the New Straits Times that if a suitable, secure location could be found to temporarily store these valuables until the Guar Kepah Archaeology Gallery was finished, "this can be expedited".

Source: TheSunDaily.my, nst.com.my

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