‘Dig at archaeological sites with care’


HERE IT IS: Stimpson (right) explains some details of his works to Sarawak Museum public relations officer Mohd Zakaria Hatta.

KUCHING: Visiting Sarawak Museum research officer, Christopher Stimpson, reminds the public to always be cautious when doing research work at archaeological sites here.

He said that activities such as digging at the site, for example, must be done systematically to ensure that valuable data are not lost.

He said this at a public talk at the Sarawak Museum yesterday which was attended by members of the media and students.

Soil at archaeological sites was essential for date tracking and recording, said Stimpson, who has been here for about four months now.

He said that precaution must always be observed when dealing with places full of artifacts to ensure others or returning researchers could conduct their studies well.

“Places such as the Niah Caves for example are places where many intensive studies and research have been done since the 19th century must always be dealt cautiously. We do not want to lose valuable information,” he added.

While speaking of his admiration for the works and ideas of the late British polymath Tom Harrison who spent most of his life in Sarawak doing research, he too lamented that Harrison’s methods of handling natural historical sites.

He said that like any other archaeologist in the 19th century, Harrison’s methods of digging natural historical sites were damaging the soil condition which contains valuable records like those at the Niah Caves.

A trained zoologist from the University of Leeds in England, Stimpson is currently in Sarawak to conduct an avian zooarcheology at the Niah Caves.

He too studied Harrison’s specimen and compared them with his own specimens taken from the Niah Caves.

“During my time at the site (Niah Caves), I encountered a few interesting facts. I managed to find some bone specimen of birds such as the Green Magpie and Bulwer Pheasant inside the cave itself. These birds are normally found in the high mountains or places of higher altitude than the Niah Caves,” he said.

His principal research here is palaeoecology and the use of Quarternary-age palaezoological data sets for effective management and conservation of extant population of animals and birds.