KOTA KINABALU - District offices in the state are being roped in to identify potentially historically important areas in Sabah.
Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan said this was important because such areas could be inadvertently damaged by self-styled treasure hunters.
She said there had been individuals going around rural areas equipped with metal detectors digging up valuable metals.
"I was in Kota Marudu a few years ago and was told about a house where there were some unique bottles," said Joanna, adding that the items were believed to date back to the 1880s when the British Chartered Company planted tobacco in Kota Marudu.
She said the house owner found the bottles at a site dug up by individuals who were said to be looking for treasures.
"It was fortunate that the bottles were not damaged and the houseowner was able to collect them," Joanna said.
She said the museum had asked district offices in Sabah to look out for any historically vital areas that could be checked further.
"There could be some historically important areas in plantations or other privately-owned land," she added.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun had said that Sabah might have lost some historical sites as local communities were not aware about their importance.
He said such historical heritage could serve as tourist attractions.
Masidi said the museum should be informed of any discoveries of such sites and various measures could be taken to preserve them. He also urged those who have antiques in their possession to contact the museum.
He added that such matters must be looked into seriously because a lot of historical artefacts from Sabah had been sold overseas simply because they were thought to be worthless.