The Star

The Star
A 6,500-year old Fossilised Chengal (Neobalanocarpus Heimii) Tree Trunk

The Star is displayed at the UTAR Gallery in UTAR Kampar Campus Heritage Building.

The Star is a 6,500-year old sediments-buried fossilised tree trunk that was discovered in Batu Karang, Kampar, Perak. This fossilised tree trunk was discovered around the period between 1978 to 1979 in the Batu Karang tin mine, an area about 2.4 km north-west of Kampar town in Perak. Now this former tin mine has been developed into a township named Bandar Baru Kampar.

Several large fossilised tree trunks were exposed within a layer of organic mud and peat in the mine pit during the mining operation. The largest fossilised tree trunk was measured at approximately 8 feet in diameter and 70 feet in length.

In order to ensure that the tin mining operation was not obstructed, the mine workers at that time attempted to burn the fossilised tree trunks. However, these fossilised tree trunks were found to be highly resistant to fire. Eventually, the mine operator moved these tree trunks up to ground surface and left them exposed to nature. No research works were conducted at that time.

After almost 30 years of exposure to weather, only one fossilised tree trunk, coded as The Star, was relatively well preserved. A piece of wood sample was extracted from the outer rings of The Star and sent to the radiocarbon dating lab, Beta Analytic Inc in Miami, Florida (USA) for radiocarbon dating test. The test results showed that the conventional radiocarbon age of this fossilised tree trunk was 6,510+/-40 BP (Before Present). It meant that this fossilised tree trunk was buried by sediments for 6,500 years.

The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) identified this fossilised tree trunk as the Neobalanocarpus Heimii species, commercially known as Chengal which is classified as Heavy Hardwood under the Malaysian Grading Rules 2009. Chengal timber is very suitable for all forms of heavy construction works, bridges, railway sleepers, power-line poles, boats, furniture and for use in higher-end homes and resort buildings.

The Star was presented by Tan Sri Dato’ Hew See Tong to UTAR Gallery in UTAR Kampar Campus where it is now displayed for viewing. This piece that was presented to the Gallery is part of a larger tree trunk that is now being displayed at the Kinta Tin Mining Gravel Pump Museum in Kampar.