History is waiting to be unearthed at the Sungai Batu archaeological site in Kedah, and it will cost over RM100 million to realise that.
This is according to Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin, director of the Centre for Global Archaeological Research at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
He said it would cost that much to raise five ancient ships researchers have found in an ancient river that flowed at the site thousands of years ago.
Mokhtar said that at least RM25 million was needed to raise each vessel, a prohibitive cost as the work demands expertise and special equipment.
“Excavation under water is more difficult than on land. Special equipment is needed to suction soil and water; it is a delicate job as utmost care is necessary due to the factors of preservation and conversation,” he said.
Last August, Bernama reported that researchers at the site had found ancient ships almost two years earlier.
The vessels were found buried in a swampy and muddy area at the site where a deep and wide river flowed thousands of years ago.
He said that in 2012, the researchers found the masts of the vessels and nails.
On another matter, Mokhtar said more holistic data on the Sungai Batu civilisation would be included in the secondary school history syllabus, but it would take time.
He said the compilation of data began in 2007 following the discovery of the Sungai Batu archaeological site.
He also said that USM would collaborate with several agencies to organise the Kedah Tua International Conference in Sungai Petani on May 21 and 22 to create awareness in the people on the importance of archaeology.
Those interested can register at ktic-my.blogspot.com.
Mokhtar said the Kedah Tua Festival would be held from May 20 to 23 at the Sungai Batu site.