Ancient metallurgy site found in Sungai Jaong archaeological site in Santubong

Abdul Karim (center) showing photos of the findings and excavation works at the Sungai Jaong archaeological site together with his deputy Dato Sabestian Ting (left) and Sarawak Museum Department director Nancy Jolhi (right).

KUCHING, Dec 1: An ancient metallurgy site has been discovered at the Sungai Jaong archaeological site in Santubong, according to Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts (MCTP) Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The finding was a result of collaboration between the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) in Kuala Lumpur and the Sarawak Museum Department.

“Additionally, one of these floors is associated with a circular iron smelting furnace.

“The nature of the excavated structure, the organisation of the remains, and the tap slag found nearby the base of the structure represent the first clear evidence of an ancient iron smelting furnace in the Santubong region, and more generally in the Sarawak River Delta,” he told a press conference yesterday (Nov 30).

The furnace consists of a circular stone layout as part of the iron smelting process.

He said that the furnace was discovered in 2022, but the radiocarbon analysis results which were obtained in 2023, indicates that metallurgical activities existed between the 10th and 13th centuries CE.

“Further analysis is currently underway, and we are eagerly anticipating the findings from this archaeological project,” he added.

The recording of the furnace.

The Sarawak Museum has played a significant role in the archaeology scene of Sarawak, with a rich history of contributions. One of the earliest archaeological discoveries was made at the Sungai Jaong archaeological sites in Santubong.

The Sungai Jaong archaeological site was first explored by the late Tom Harrison, curator of the Sarawak Museum Department, from 1947 until 1967.

It was one of many sites that hold historical importance in Sarawak River Delta, especially in the Santubong area.

Previous excavations yielded various finds including iron slags, fragments of tuyeres, earthenware and Chinese ceramics shreds, worked stones, beads, and more.

After 70 years, a new archaeological project focusing on the Sarawak River Delta, particularly Sungai Jaong, was established in 2017. — DayakDaily