A Dong Son drum in East Timor

A hint into the potential archaeology from East Timor – the discovery of a bronze Dong Son drum in Baucau. There have been several such drums found in East Timor now, and similar drums turn up all over Southeast Asia which suggests a rather extensive exchange network of either goods or expertise across the region 2,000 years ago.

Source: Viet Nam Net 20151203
Source: Viet Nam Net 20151203

Vietnam’s ancient Dong Son drum found in Timor Leste
Viet Nam Net, 03 december 2015

A relatively intact bronze drum believed to belong to the Dong Son culture, originating in Vietnam over 2,000 years ago, has recently been discovered in Timor Leste.

The drum, 1.03 metres in diameter, 78 cm in height, and 80kg in weight, was found accidentally at a construction site in Baucau, the second largest city in Timor Leste, in late 2014. However, official information was just released in late November this year after researchers had conducted preliminary assessment.

Archaeologist Nuno Vasco Oliveira from the Timor Lester Government’s General Directorate of Art and Culture said he is certain that the item is a Dong Son bronze drum – an icon of the Dong Son culture (700 B.C. – 100 AD) of the ancient Vietnamese people.

This is not the first time a Dong Son drum has been found in Timor Leste. The ones previously unearthed were badly damaged while the newly found item is in a relatively good condition.

Full story here.

Largest-ever rat fossils discovered in East Timor

Very pleased to see my former colleagues at the ANU featured in this news – the discovery of the largest rat fossils ever, from East Timor.

Dr Julien Louys holding up the jawbone fossil of a giant rat found in East Timor, with a modern rat for comparison. Source: ANU 20151106
Dr Julien Louys holding up the jawbone fossil of a giant rat found in East Timor, with a modern rat for comparison. Source: ANU 20151106

The largest to have existed – giant rat fossils
ANU, 06 November 2015

Dog-Size Rats Once Lived Alongside Humans
LiveScience, 06 November 2015

Archaeologists with The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered fossils of seven giant rat species on East Timor, with the largest up to 10 times the size of modern rats.

Dr Julien Louys of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, who is helping lead the project said these are the largest known rats to have ever existed.

“They are what you would call mega-fauna. The biggest one is about five kilos, the size of a small dog,” Dr Louys said.

“Just to put that in perspective, a large modern rat would be about half a kilo.”

The work is part of the From Sunda to Sahul project which is looking at the earliest human movement through Southeast Asia. Researchers are now trying to work out exactly what caused the rats to die out.

Full story here and here.

Set Square

Elena Piotto

Elena Piotto
The Australian National University
Matja Kuru 2 in Timor-Leste. The initial phase of an excavation commences when squares are set out. This photo shows the old pit (from a previous field trip) in the foreground while the new squares are being strung. Equipment surrounds the section – ready and waiting for the excavation to begin in earnest.

Stone faces found in Timor cave

Researchers working in the Lene Hara Cave in eastern tip of East Timor have reported a previously-undiscovered set of stone carvings of faces. U/Th dating of the petroglyphs put them to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old.

Stone Faces from East Timor, Brisbane Times 20110214

Faces of the ancestors revealed: discovery and dating of a Pleistocene-age petroglyph in Lene Hara Cave, East Timor
O’Connor et al, 2010. Antiquity 84:325, pp 649-665

Face to face with 10,000 year-old carvings
Brisbane Times, 14 Feb 2011

SE Asia’s oldest rock carving found by surprise
Australian Geographic, 15 Feb 2011
Continue reading “Stone faces found in Timor cave”

Linkdump Feb 01-13, 2011

Here’s a list of archaeology stories from Southeast Asia that I missed out on over the last two weeks. Most prominently has been the eruption of fighting between the military forces of Cambodia and Thailand at the border near Preah Vihear:

Preah Vihear, wikicommons

More news after the jump.
Continue reading “Linkdump Feb 01-13, 2011”

Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

22 December 2006 (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald) – It’s rare to hear about archaeological information from East Timor (Timor Leste). This one reports of the Jerimalai site, which was inhabited as far back as 42,000 years ago.

The Age, 22 Dec 2006

Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

AN AUSTRALIAN archaeologist has discovered the oldest evidence of occupation by modern humans on the islands that were the stepping stones from South-East Asia to Australia.

A cave site in East Timor where people lived more than 42,000 years ago, eating turtles, tuna and giant rats, was unearthed by Sue O’Connor, head of archaeology and natural history at the Australian National University.

Dr O’Connor also found ancient stone tools and shells used for decoration in the limestone shelter, known as Jerimalai, on the eastern tip of the island.

She said her discovery could help solve the mystery of the route ancient seafarers took to get here from South-East Asia.

It strengthens the view that they made a southern passage, via Timor, rather than travelling northwards via Borneo and Sulawesi, then down through Papua New Guinea. “The antiquity of the Jerimalai shelter makes this site significant at a world level,” said Dr O’Connor, who presented the findings at the annual conference of the Australian Archaeological Association this month.


Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)