PROGRES.ID – The Department of National Heritage and the Global Archaeological Research Center (GARC) at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have announced the discovery of an immense Buddha temple on Choras Hill in Kedah, Malaysia. This temple is believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist temples in existence, with an estimated age of up to 1,200 years. The research team led by Nasha Rodziadi Khaw also successfully uncovered two well-preserved large statues. Interestingly, the statues bear resemblance to ancient artifacts from the Sriwijaya Kingdom found in Sumatra and West Java.
This discovery raises new questions about the cultural connections between the Bujang Valley and other ancient civilizations in Southeast Asia. The site’s location is particularly unique because most previous archaeological findings were in the Bujang Valley, situated to the south of Mount Jerai. Choras Hill, on the other hand, is the only site located to the north of Mount Jerai and is entirely isolated.
Nasha Rodziadi Khaw, the Head of the GARC research team, explained, “We were surprised by the discovery of this ancient Buddhist temple site,” as quoted from the New Straits Times.
This finding also reveals that in the past, there was a significant population near Choras Hill, which was previously a promontory before undergoing sedimentation processes.
Commissioner of the Department of National Heritage Malaysia, Mohd Azmi Mohd Yusof, described this discovery as the most significant archaeological find in Malaysia since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The research team conducted excavations for two weeks, from August 28, 2023, to September 8, 2023.
Mohd Azmi added, “The most unique aspect of this discovery is that most of the artifacts remain intact, including the temple’s structure. We hope to uncover more about the civilization of Kedah.”
The excavation results revealed that the team successfully uncovered the entire west wall of the temple, as well as parts of the north and south walls, along with the stair structure at its base. They also found inscriptions written in Pallava script and several pottery fragments. This site is estimated to have been built between the 8th and 9th centuries AD, in line with the temples in the Bujang Valley and the Sriwijaya Kingdom.
Nasha Rodziadi Khaw disclosed that the statues and other artifacts found at the site would be brought back to GARC USM for conservation and further research. The second phase of excavation to uncover the remaining temple structures is planned to continue in December.
“The statues and artifacts found from the site will be brought back to GARC USM for conservation and further research,” she stated.