Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) has gained global recognition following the mapping of 2,000-year-old Gandhara civilisation sites in Peshawar, Pakistan.
A team of 30 researchers spent about a month there on a research project, which was initiated as the main programme in the USM-University of Peshawar (UoP) framework, signed on April 3.
CGAR director Prof Mokhtar Saidin, who headed the team, said as a result of the study at the Kashmir Smast site, CGAR had secured an opportunity in the studies of early civilisation, prehistory and reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment there.
The goal of the project, which went on from June 4 until July 2, was to boost scientific archaeological research on the Gandhara civilisation, particularly the Kashmir Smast site.
Mokhtar said the team did a complete magnetic anomaly mapping of the Kashmir Smast Cave (Great Cave), Kashmir Smast monastery, spring water tank and great water tank to identify their future research potential.
“We also did a mapping of Gandhara sites that were within the UoP campus.
“During the mapping exercises, we made two discoveries of Gandhara stone tools inside the UoP campus and an ‘adze’ stone tool at the Kashmir Smast site.”
Mokhtar said the results of the preliminary studies proved the importance of Kashmir Smast in the prehistoric period and early civilisation.
“This has led UoP to grant a more exclusive future research opportunity to USM in conducting a detailed study, like excavation, on Kashmir Smast and its archaeology,” he said, adding that UoP had set aside space on its campus for USM researchers to work in.
Mokhtar added that Kashmir Smast was chosen as its age was the same as the Sungai Batu site in Bujang Valley.
“The difference is that Sungai Batu is in a valley, while the Kashmir Smast site is hilly.”
Meanwhile, USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Omar Osman said there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of students applying for places in the varsity for the upcoming academic session, beginning Sept 1.
He said 20,320 candidates had applied, of which 17,431 fulfilled the minimum requirements and general conditions.