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There are many interesting historical facts about Terengganu that many do not even know and will find it surprising that our history goes back to thousands of years. Fossils of early human settlements were found in Gua Bewah, Tasik Kenyir that dates back to the Neanderthal Age. That’s almost 8,000 to 20,000 years ago. And many also do not know that Terengganu has been mentioned in ancient Chinese history books as “Teng-ngan-yu” way back in the 12th Century, where it held a very important position as a trading port. It was part of the Sri Wijaya empire since the 2nd Century. And interestingly, Ptolemy, a Greek astronomer, who also lived during the reign of Sri Wijaya, had also described two ports on the Malay Peninsula, Primula and Kole, as being on the Terengganu coast.
An important discovery, the Batu Bersurat, or Terengganu Inscription Stone, dated in the 14th Century, established Terengganu as one of the earliest recipients of Islam, even predating the Malacca Sultanate. The founding of the present Terengganu Sultanate dates back to the 18th Century by Tun Zainal Abidin I.
The industriousness of the Terengganu people during the late 19th Century was a cause of admiration. Hugh Clifford, the British Resident of Pahang, came to visit Terengganu and what he observed truly amazed him. He observed that Terengganu was the centre of many traditional crafts and industries, from boat building, wood carving, brass making, the production of songket and batik, to house building without the use of nails. The Terengganu River was also a bustling trading port. Impressed, he even described Terengganu as the “Birmingham of the Peninsula”, a tribute to the industries of Terengganu. In addition, historians of culture described Terengganu as the “cradle of Malay civilization”.