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February 10, 2015

The Search for an Expert Continues...

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Does anyone know how to date Islamic graves ?? To recap, I am writing a history of the area. I went about 12 km up river and found an old Islamic grave. It was unusual because it was large and the foot and head stones were "n" shaped.


Piece of cake! Or so I thought.


The first thing I did was to scan Google. There was one photo, and only one, with the type of gravestone I was looking for. And this was only the bottom half of the image. I delved deeper into Google Scholar and read several papers. There was nothing there to help me.


I then went to a history friend, who was visiting from Australia for two months. He had written a book on the area plus several papers. The time period was after 1840. I am writing up to 1840. He studied the pictures and he said he didn't have a clue. However, he did know a Canadian lady who could possibly tell me by the weathering of the rocks. She was studying the megaliths near here. I was sceptical.


Meanwhile, I thought I would try various eminent scholars in Australia. I contacted the first one and he was very nice but his field was the Brook era, the same area that my Kuching friend had studied. He also didn't know who to contact.


I looked through the papers from Google Scholar again and picked one guy out at random. He seemed to have some knowledge of the area I was interested in. I sent him an e-mail. To my surprise, he was a scholar in the field of the movement of people from China to Southeast Asia about 50,000 years ago to the present. The first migration occurred about 50,000 to 40,000 years ago while the last one occurred 2,000 years ago. I was astonished to find out that people with the linguistic ability arrived so late!


He was a pre-eminent scholar and his first e-mail was a bit abrupt so I sent him copies of my comic book via e-mail. His second e-mail was very patient and kind, telling me it would be impossible to date stones by weathering. I had suspected something like that. Also he did not have any idea who to contact for ancient Islamic tombstones. I will contact some of the Middle East universities to see if they might give me direction.


Meanwhile, we had the artists over to edit my first comic book. It is now called a graphic novel. A lady, who has lived here for many years, had family do a critique. One of the children was a New Zealand lawyer who was a great comic – errr – graphic novel person. We took all their suggestions and talked about them and agreed there needed to be some adjustments. They said they would finish the graphic novel (I can't get used to that term) by April 1. We, then, sat down to delicious curry and jungle vegetable lunch, prepared by my wife.


I will keep you posted.


...Life is good


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