Prehistoric skeleton unearthed in Aceh

Prehistoric skeletal remains dating 3,500 years (Neolithic?) and ancient tools were found from an excavation in central Aceh in Indonesia. It’ll be interesting to see how the find fits in with contemporary skeletal remains found in Southeast Asia, although I think some of the remarks reported are quite dubious: how did they conclude from the stones placed on top of the body that it was for prevention of wild animals and not some kind of ritual behaviour? Also, why is it only women who dig up tubers?

Archaeological Dig in Aceh Turns Up 3,500-Year-Old Bones and Artifacts
Jakarta Globe, 13 March 2009

Archaeologists have discovered a human skeleton believed to be about 3,500 years old in Aceh Province, invoking the specter of an ancient civilization that may have existed in the area.

According to Windi Darsa, a spokesperson for the Central Aceh government, archeologist Ketut Wiradnyana said that an excavation site in Mendale village in Central Aceh district had yielded a femur and hipbone as well as a number of implements such as a stone axe and pieces of pottery.

He said that the skeleton was partly covered by rocks indicating a burial site.

“When members of the family died, they were buried by placing stones on top of the body. This was done to keep wild animals from eating the corpse,” he said, adding that the man-made tools found at the site also allowed insights into how these people may have lived.

“The antler bone, for example, was probably used as a gouging implement by prehistoric women to up dig tubers.”


Related Posts

Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

1 thought on “Prehistoric skeleton unearthed in Aceh”

  1. “how did they conclude from the stones placed on top of the body that it was for prevention of wild animals and not some kind of ritual behaviour? Also, why is it only women who dig up tubers”

    1) probably from something similar in ethnographic records? I’m not sure about this one.

    2) common assumption about hunting-gathering division of labor. men go hunt. women gather plants and fruits. Although, i dont think it strictly works that way. at least in gathering food, there should be some cooperation. at least some help by old men, young boys. or by free adult men with nothing to do. hahaha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *