[Paper] Ideology, Ritual Performance and Its Manifestations in the Rock Art of Timor-Leste and Kisar Island, Island Southeast Asia

New paper on newly-discovered rock art on Kisar Island, Indonesia by O’Connor et al. published in the Cambridge Archaeology Journal. What’s really interesting in this paper is the fact that the paintings have some similarities with those from East Timor, about 20 km across the sea.

Painted rock art occurs throughout the islands of the Western Pacific and has previously been argued to have motif and design elements in common, indicating that it was created within the context of a shared symbolic system. Here we report five new painted rock-art sites from Kisar Island in eastern Indonesia and investigate the commonalities between this art and the painted art corpus in Timor-Leste, the independent nation that forms the eastern part of the neighbouring island of Timor. We examine the motifs in the Kisar art and suggest that, rather than being Neolithic in age, some of the figurative motifs more likely have a Metal Age origin, which in this region places them within the last 2500 years.

Source: Ideology, Ritual Performance and Its Manifestations in the Rock Art of Timor-Leste and Kisar Island, Island Southeast Asia | Cambridge Archaeological Journal | Cambridge Core

See also

Indonesian island found to be unusually rich in cave paintings

via the Australian National University, 13 December 2017:

A tiny Indonesian island, previously unexplored by archaeologists, has been found to be unusually rich in ancient cave paintings following a study by researchers from The Australian National University (ANU). The team uncovered a total of 28 rock art sites dating from at least 2,500 years ago on the island of Kisar which measures just 81 square kilometres and lies north of Timor-Leste.

Source: Indonesian island found to be unusually rich in cave paintings

Discovery of world’s oldest funerary fish hooks by ANU archaeologists

via Heritage Daily, 12 December 2017: 12,000-year-old fish hooks found in a burial in Alor Island, Indonesia.

Archaeologists from the Australian National University has discovered five fish hooks dating from the Pleistocene era, approximately 12,000 years ago on Indonesia’s Alor Island.

Source: Discovery of world’s oldest funerary fish hooks by ANU archaeologists

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Development of Regional Maritime Networks during the Early Metal Age in Northern Maluku Islands: A View from Excavated Glass Ornaments and Pottery Variation

New paper by Ono et al. in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology

In this paper we discuss the results of excavation at the Aru Manara site in the Northern Maluku islands along with a description of the recovered pottery assemblage and results of compositional analysis of glass ornaments. By comparing our data to those from other sites in the area, we suggest the possible development of regional maritime networks in and around the Northern Maluku Islands during the Early Metal Age. The lowest level of the site contained a large number of secondary human burials, burial pots, and jars with distinctive anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs (including human faces and lizards), and possible baked clay ornaments. These all date to between ca. 2100 and 1900 years BP, corresponding to the Early Metal Age in Island Southeast Asia. The site also produced numerous glass beads and bracelets. X-ray fluorescence analysis confirms a high proportion of potash glass that possibly originated from China, Mainland Southeast Asia or India and is common in sites in Thailand and Vietnam dating to between 2500 and 2100 years BP. There was a minor occurrence of high alumina-soda glass beads known as Indo-Pacific beads that originated from India to Southeast Asia and which are commonly found in sites dated between 2300 and 1500 years BP or later. The glass ornaments from different areas, combined with variable pottery, indicates the possible development of maritime and cross-regional networks to the Northern Maluku Islands.

Source: Development of Regional Maritime Networks during the Early Metal Age in Northern Maluku Islands: A View from Excavated Glass Ornaments and Pottery Variation
https://doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2017.1395374

Historical fragments of Sriwijaya in Palembang

via Jakarta Post, 25 November 2017:

Palembang in South Sumatra, which we know today as an industrial city, was an international trade hub for a 100 years, beginning with the rise of the Sriwijaya kingdom in the seventh century.

Source: Historical fragments of Sriwijaya in Palembang

New Paper: Rock art and the colonisation of Southeast Asia

Over the past decade, archaeologists have been able to directly date rock art, particularly in Island Southeast Asia at sites in East Kalimantan, East Timor and South Sulawesi. The dates of rock art indicate that modern humans were creating rock art during the Pleistocene, comparable to similar rock art in Europe. In this paper by Aubert et al., the authors note that the presence of these sites and dates now begs the question, did the ability to create rock art move out of Africa with human migrations, or did it erupt independently in different parts of the world? Also within Island Southeast Asia, did rock art develop from a specific place and spread throughout prehistoric Sahul, or did it arise independently among different communities in the region?

Recent technological developments in scientific dating methods and their applications to a broad range of materials have transformed our ability to accurately date rock art. These novel breakthroughs in turn are challenging and, in some instances, dramatically changing our perceptions of the timing and the nature of the development of rock art and other forms of symbolic expression in various parts of the late Pleistocene world. Here we discuss the application of these methods to the dating of rock art in Southeast Asia, with key implications for understanding the pattern of recent human evolution and dispersal outside Africa.

The Timing and Nature of Human Colonization of Southeast Asia in the Late Pleistocene: A Rock Art Perspective – Current Anthropology
https://doi.org/10.1086/694414

Panji tales awarded the status of world heritage by UNESCO

via Leiden University, 31 October 2017:

he unique collection of more than 250 ancient tales revolving around the mythical Javanese Prince Panji, which is curated by Leiden University Libraries (UBL), has been acknowledged as world heritage by UNESCO. The UBL is grateful to UNESCO for this exceptionally prestigious award.

The Leiden collection of Panji tales is included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, together with similar collections held by the national libraries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. The Register contains documentary heritage of outstanding value to the world. UBL already holds two documents included in the UNESCO Register: La Galigo (2011) and Babad Diponegoro (2013). By digitising the Panji tales, they can be made available worldwide via free via open access for research and education. UBL has started a crowdfunding campaign to help digitise the Panji tales.

Source: Panji tales awarded the status of world heritage by UNESCO