Excavations at Niah in Sarawak, East Malaysia have uncovered evidence of human settlement from 38,000 BC (the oldest relic of homo sapiens in southeast Asia). There are numerous sites in the north of Peninsular Malaysia where evidence of hunter-gatherers has been dated to around 10,000 BC. These Hoabinhians were spread across the region from present-day Myanmar to southern China between 12,000 and 3,000 BC. After 3,000 BC Mon-Khmer speaking immigrants moved south into Peninsular Malaysia and introduced a more advanced Neolithic culture, engaging in simple farming. The indigenous people known as Orang Asli, who still live in the remoter, mountainous areas of the northern Malay Peninsula, are considered to be descendants of the Neolithic farmers. Indian traders first visited the Malay Peninsula in the 1st century BC and introduced political ideas, art forms and the Sanskrit language. Hinduism and Buddhism gained a foothold and were practised alongside traditional animist beliefs.
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