GEORGE TOWN, Feb 23 — Penang’s neolithic site, the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery in Kepala Batas, has been listed as a national heritage site under the National Heritage Act 2005, said state exco Yeoh Soon Hin.

The tourism and creative economy committee chairman said the Wadda Gurdwara Sahib building has also been listed as a national heritage site.

“The listing of these two sites is in line with the state’s initiatives in preserving and protecting our heritage sites,” he said in a statement today.

He said the listing will create more awareness of such sites and encourage both the public and private sectors to protect the state’s heritage.

“We will continue to develop the state’s heritage sector,” he said.

The skeleton of a woman, named as Penang Woman, was found during digging works at Guar Kepah back in 2017.

The skeleton was the first and only remaining Neolithic skeleton found in a shell midden in Malaysia.

A total 41 skeletons from three shell middens — A, B and C — in Guar Kepah were excavated by British archaeologists between 1851 and 1934 and those skeletons are now in the National Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden, Holland.

Shell middens refer to mounds of kitchen debris consisting mostly of shells and other food remnants. It is indicative of ancient human settlement and was sometimes used as burial sites.

The Penang Woman was discovered in shell midden C almost fully intact, though her legs were partially destroyed by the backhoe digging works.

Her arms were folded and she was surrounded by pottery, stone tools and several different types of shells, an indication of her somewhat important position in society then.

The Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery displayed a replica of the Penang Woman while the original skeleton is being preserved at the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR).

The Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Building was built in 1903 and is the main religious centre for Sikhs in Penang.

The Gurdwara also functioned as a community centre, a religious and Punjabi language learning centre and a function hall for the community.