Malaysia dry spell lays bare treasure
PASIR MAS, KELANTAN
THE dry spell in Malaysia has been a boon for some.
For the past month, there has been feverish excitement as word spread of a dramatic discovery of ancient coins and artefacts along the banks of Sungai Kelantan.
Prospectors, coming from near and far, have reportedly dug up keris, spears, earthen jars and porcelain plates, as well as scores of coins with ancient Arabic inscriptions.
Collectors were said to have offered generous sums to those who could find and take to them items from the treasure, most of which are believed to be from shipwrecks dating back to the 18th century.
It is understood that the dry spell, which started last month, had caused the long-sunken treasure to be noticed easily.
The dry weather resulted in the water in shallow areas of the river receding. Locals had used metal detectors, spades and hoes to dig up the riverbed.
The news reached the ears of Malaysia's heritage custodians, who have stepped in to put a stop to the prospecting, much to the annoyance and disappointment of the prospectors.
The National Heritage Department has declared a 1km radius from the site of the treasure hoard as "out of bounds" to the public, while its officers carry out excavation and site-preservation works.
Police have cordoned off the area since Saturday for the works, which are expected to end on March 13.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK