Skull Hill
Skull Hill.
Highest point
Elevation182.88 m (600.0 ft)
Coordinates4°26′23.767″N 118°37′19.735″E / 4.43993528°N 118.62214861°E / 4.43993528; 118.62214861
Native nameBukit Tengkorak (Malay)
Skull Hill is located in Malaysia
Skull Hill
Skull Hill
Map showing location of Skull Hill within Malaysia.
Country Malaysia
State Sabah
RegionTawau Division

Skull Hill (Malay: Bukit Tengkorak) is an archaeological site hill located at Tampi Tampi Road, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of Semporna town.


The hill is a volcanic rock-shelter site and a part of volcano mouth of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) in diameter.[1][2] It is surrounded by numerous isolated hills and mountains with most representing the sites of extinct volcanoes ranging from Pliocene to Quaternary in age.[3]


Between 1994–95, joint archaeological research was undertaken by Centre for Archaeological Research of Malaysia and Sabah Museum team at the hill.[3] Based on the findings from two seasons of excavations until the base of the undisturbed cultural deposits for about a period of five weeks at two volcanic outcrops near the hill summit, the subsequent layers contained undisturbed artefacts.[3] A broad range of archaeological materials were recovered during the excavations which include large quantities of potsherds, chert, agate and obsidian stone tools, polished stone adzes, a stone barkcloth beater as well as some shell and bone artefacts. Abundant of food remains also discovered, mostly being the marine molluscs, fish bones and some terrestrial animal bones.[3]

The site has been identified as the largest pottery making factory in Southeast Asia during the Neolithic period.[1][2] The hill slopes are littered with numerous pottery shards with various patterns dating 3,000 BP.[1] An ethno-archaeological study shows that such pottery making is still practised by the Bajau community in Semporna until this day.[1][2] This pottery site has links between local communities and traders from around the Andaman Sea. The hill provides evidence of prehistoric sea trade and one of the world's longest human movement dating back to 3,000 years.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Sites, Semporna". Sabah Museum. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Bukit Tengkorak, Semporna, Sabah (3,000 Tahun)" [Skull Hill, Semporna, Sabah (3,000 Years)] (in Malay). Department of National Heritage, Malaysia. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Stephen Chia. "The Prehistory of Bukit Tengkorak, Sabah, Malaysia" (PDF). Journal of Southeast Asian Archaeology. 21: 146–159. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 July 2019 – via Universiti Sains Malaysia.