In 1884, Jacques de Morgan teamed up with a group of mining contractors to prospect for tin in Malaysia. The most promising strata lay in territory controlled by the British Indian authorities. Morgan was granted the concession to prospect the land in exchange for producing a map of the region for the British governor.

Perak region

The territory Jacques de Morgan was asked to map was the region of Perak in northwest Malaysia. It contained a variety of ecosystems including a landscape of mangroves along the coastline, valleys carpeted with tropical forests, and mountain massifs rising to altitudes of over 2,000 metres.

As Jacques de Morgan travelled through Perak, he produced topographical surveys and sketched the landscape. Helped in his task by the local population, he lived cheek by jowl with sedentary Malaysian villagers and nomadic tribes. Although subjective in his view of the exotic sights around him, he took a scientific approach to recording his observations and describing and collecting his discoveries.

A hazardous journey

An exploration in the true sense of the word, Jacques de Morgan's journey often took him to unpleasant and even hazardous climes. On 14 August, for example, he walked for twelve hours without food and fell prey to blood-sucking leeches. Under these harsh conditions, his health gradually deteriorated, leaving him exhausted, feverish and disheartened. After exploring the region for two months, he returned to Paris and took several weeks to recover.

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