Interview with Dr. Mokhtar Saidin on Bukit Bunuh & The Discovery of An Important Paleolithic Site

Back in May 2009, I made a trip to Lenggong with my wife, Zeenee (who was still a journalist at that time) and a sub-editor from New Straits Times, Subhadra Devan to speak to Dr. Mokhtar Saidin on the archaeological discovery at Bukit Bunuh. I filmed short snippets of videos (using just a point and shoot Ixus camera with no HD) which I had pieced together to make this 13 minute long interview. Dr. Mokhtar Saidin is a professor and Director of the Centre for Global Archaeological Research Malaysia (University Sains Malaysia). Extremely humble and very passionate about his work, he was very accommodating and took us to various sites at Bukit Bunuh to show us the new discovery.

We were actually one of the earlier people to visit the site guided by Dr. Mokhtar. It was a long and bumpy ride all the way in his jeep as he took us deep into the oil palm plantation to visit several sites.

For some reason, this video never actually saw the light of day and had remained in my private collection, so I’m making the video publicly available for the first time.

The discovery of evidence in Bukit Bunuh has made it one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in the world because it has revealed a 4 km square Palaeolithic complex dating back more than 1.83 million years making Bukit Bunuh the oldest site in the world outside Africa and which has been chronometrically dated.

Interview:  Subhadra Devan (NST)
Photography:  Zeeneeshri Ramadass (NST)
Video Recording/Editing:  V.Kugantharan

With this discovery in Bukit Bunuh, the evidence of prehistoric presence in Lembah Lenggong (Lenggong Valley)has been strengthened, and has turned it into one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

“Evidence found during the research which has been on-going since 2001 in Bukit Bunuh indicates that this site had always been occupied,” said Assoc. Prof. Mokhtar Saidin, the Director of the Centre for Global Archaeological Research. “Bukit Bunuh was chosen as the site for early settlement as it not only provided the natural resources needed to make stone tools but was an ancient environment that had water resources from ancient lakes, flora and fauna,” he said.


Source: University Sains Malaysia Official Site

The discovery of the use of hand-axes, announced on 2009, indicated that this is the only Paleolithic site in the world that functioned as a workshop for making stone tools and continued to be used periodically since more than 1.83 million years ago. Currently, the hand-axe is regarded as the oldest tool in the world.


“This recognition is crucial  to ensure that the artifacts, including thousands of suevite stones in this area are preserved as national heritage. There should be ongoing research to get a true picture of the people who settled in this area since 1.83 million years ago and this can change several theories about the Paleolithic people such as the nomadic theory and movement of prehistoric man,” said Mokhtar.

Prior to this, the Nomadic theory on Paleolithic culture stated that they moved from place to place but evidence in Bukit Bunuh shows otherwise, because humans needs go beyond basic needs.

Kugan Kumar

V.Kugantharan is the founder of Joy With Music, where he teaches adults and kids the joys of playing the piano. He also runs a web design agency, 504 Studios. A father of a very "opinionated" four-year-old, he divides his time between his passions -- blogging, reading, music, design and books.

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