Outstanding Scholastic Achievement


A person sitting in a chair

Description automatically generated

Dawn of Archaeology: Malaysia's Inaugural Explorer of the Past 
To be a pioneer is no easy task. Yet, when you give your best effort and passion, success will come to you. Carrying the title of the first archaeologist in Malaysia, Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Siti Zuraina binti Abdul Majid FASc has been building the groundwork for archaeology as a field of study in Malaysia since the 1970s. 

Her well-known discoveries include the Palaeolithic site of Kota Tampan and the Palaeolithic skeleton of the Perak Man, which was the first-ever disclosure of a Palaeolithic burial ceremony in Southeast Asia, enriching the historical records of Malaysia. Her research established that early man’s migratory route from Africa to Australia was through Peninsular Malaysia, thus putting Malaysia on the archaeological map of the world. 

A group of people in a caveDescription automatically generated 
Excavation of the Perak Man, Gua Gunung Runtuh, Lenggong, 1990

Discoveries that made Malaysia culturally richer 
In 1991, Prof Siti Zuraina discovered the 74,000-year-old Palaeolithic stone tool site in Lenggong, Perak, and the world-famous 11,000-year-old Perak Man, which is the oldest human skeleton discovered in Malaysia. 

Her groundbreaking discovery not only offered the earliest evidence of a rare birth defect, Brachymesophalangia Type A2, making a significant contribution to medical history but also led to the unprecedented revelation of a Palaeolithic burial ceremony in Southeast Asia, enriching the historical records of our country and the region. 

Besides her outstanding excavation and exploration into the nation’s past, Prof Siti Zuraina drove efforts for Lenggong Valley to be recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2012. These discoveries allowed her to secure many national and international scholarships, fellowships and grants for the research.  

She also managed to obtain UNESCO inscriptions for the historical Melaka and George Town, Penang, and played an instrumental role in obtaining the Memory of the World inscription for Batu Bersurat, ultimately bringing Malaysian heritage to the forefront. 

A group of people in a roomDescription automatically generated 
Defending the nomination of Lenggong as a UNESCO World Heritage site in St Petersburg in 2012

Laying the foundation for the development of archaeology in Malaysia 
The impact of Professor Dr. Siti Zuraina’s findings eventually led Universiti Sains Malaysia to set up the Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia to further advance archaeology as a discipline in Malaysia. She personally mentored Master’s and PhD students at USM with the goal of raising the profile of archaeology in Malaysia through training the next generation. 

She was later asked to head the newly formed Department of National Heritage in 2006, following the new National Heritage Act passed by the Malaysian Parliament in 2005. Upon her appointment, she put in place the administrative procedures to protect and preserve all types of heritage, tangible and intangible, while creating public awareness on heritage conservation. 

Valuing a lifetime of contribution 
Through the years, Professor Dr. Siti Zuraina has received numerous accolades and honors for her contribution to Malaysia’s historical and cultural heritage, including the Women at 50 Yale 150 Award in 2020 and Research Excellence Award from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2001. 

Additionally, she served as Heritage Advisor to HRH Sultan Selangor, was inducted into the Academy Science Malaysia (FASc) in 2017 and selected as Malaysia’s Head of Delegation at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee from 2011 to 2015. 

A group of people standing around a tableDescription automatically generated 
Teaching USM students in the field

The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile. 


We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and for analytical purposes. By continuing to browse, you are deemed to accept our use of cookies. Learn more about disabling cookies and our Privacy Statement here.