The discovery of ancient coins and artefacts in a riverbed in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, has created a buzz not just among the residents.
In the past month, people from far and near have gone to the area and reportedly dug up keris (daggers), spears, earthen jars and porcelain plates as well as scores of coins with ancient Arabic inscriptions.
The news spread like wildfire and collectors offered generous sums to those who could bring them items from among these treasures, believed to be from shipwrecks dating back to the 18th century, Malaysia's The Star reported.
It is understood that the long dry spell resulted in the shallow areas of the river receding.
Locals used metal detectors, spades and hoes to dig up the riverbed.
The Malaysian heritage department has now stepped in to stop people from taking away the loot, the report said.
The department officials have sought the help of the police to prevent people from entering the area as heritage officials look for artefacts to determine their origins.
A resident, who did not want to be named, told The Star that he made about RM600 (S$230) from each coin he found in the riverbed.
He said he was disappointed that he was not allowed to go into the area.
It is not known how many coins he found.
The department has declared a 1km radius from the site of the treasure trove as "out of bounds" to the public.
The police have cordoned off the area since Saturday for the work, which is expected to continue till March 13.
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