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Ref ID: 29383
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Sukendar, Haris
Title: The living megalithic tradition in eastern Indonesia
Date: 1985
Source: Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association
Publisher: Indonesian National Research Centre of Archaeology
Abstract: This paper is a brief report on research recently carried out by our Research Centre in eastern Indonesia. Not many experts, either Indonesian or foreign, have studied megalithic sites in this region, but some data on the megalithic tradition there can be obtained from the many pulications of van der Hoop, Heine Geldern and van Heekeren. These authors mention the existence of still-living traditions among the Bataks of North Sumatra, in Nias, in Toraja-land (South Sulawesi) as well as in Flores and some other parts of eastern Indonesia. This paper does not give a detailed account of prehistoric megaliths, and focuses on the living megalithic tradition and the functions of the monuments. By studying living megalithic traditions we may better understand the megalithic traditions of the past. In this paper the islands of Sumba, Flores and Timor have been selected for study, as the populations still build megaliths and hold ceremonies around them (Kapita 1976). This paper therefore represents an excursion into ethnoarchaeology. There is evidently a relationship between the megalithic tradition and ancestor worship, in particular where menhir statues are said to represent ancestors. There are two kinds of megaliths – those for ceremonial use and those for burials. Ceremonial megaliths include stone enclosures, menhir statues and stepped terraces. The megaliths used for burials include dolmens, stone-lined graves and stone enclosures. In eastern Indonesia, dolmens occur on Sumba, while stone enclosures and menhir statues are found in western Timor and on the with the building of such megaliths, including the acquisition of raw material, the ceremonies held, and the transport of the stone. In Flores and Sumba the megaliths are usually located in settlements, perhaps for convenience so that the villagers do not have to travel far for ceremonies. Such ceremonial places are often found in front of the “adat house” (traditional house), or in front of the tribal chief’s house.
Date Created: 11/4/2008
Volume: 6
Page Start: 55
Page End: 63