Category Archives: INDONESIA

Indonesia’s Early Rock Art Damaged by Climate Change

Indonesia’s Early Rock Art Damaged by Climate Change

Cosmos Magazine reports that climate change is rapidly weathering rock art at the Maros-Pangkep site in Sulawesi, Indonesia, which dates to at least 44,000 years ago.

Local archaeologists and site keepers for the ancient artworks of Maros-Pangkep in Sulawesi, including intergenerational custodians, told the scientists that the rock art “is disappearing now faster than any other time in living memory,” says lead author Jillian Huntley from Griffith University, Australia.

The paintings are dated up to at least 44,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene era. Rivalling European cave art, the illustrations of hunting scenes and mystical beings are thought to be the oldest evidence of figurative art and artistic creativity on the planet.

Advanced decay of recently discovered rock art at Leang Tedongnge. This Warty Pig is part of a panel dated to more than 45,500 years in age. Credit: Basran Burhan.
Staff from the BPCB conservation agency undertaking rock art monitoring in Maros-Pangkep.

Upon investigating the chemistry of the limestone rock face, Huntley and colleagues were surprised to find pervasive evidence of salt crystallisation (haloclasty). “When I saw how high some of the chemical indicators for salts like gypsum were, I was astonished,” she says.

The salts chemically weaken the rock and mechanically separate the surface of the panels from the limestone wall and ceiling, causing the rock art to flake off the walls.

The team conducted further analysis of the types of salts to understand what was causing them to form and reviewed paleoclimate records. Results suggest natural geological weathering processes in the tropical region are being exacerbated.

“These processes are accelerated by increasing temperatures, more extreme weather,” Huntley explains: “more consecutive dry days, prolonged droughts, water from storms and flood and increasing humidity from standing water in floods and food production such as rice field and aquaculture ponds.”

Next to extensive quarry mining of limestone, the weathering poses the greatest threat to the preservation of the irreplaceable cave art, the authors say.

“The amount we have learned from studying this rock art just in the last few years is staggering,” says Huntley. It “houses the earliest yet known animal depiction and the first complex narrative scene yet found. These are important markers of people’s cognitive and social capacities.”

Another example of the wide-ranging impacts of climate change, the discovery underscores the importance of research and conservation efforts in Maros-Pangkep and across Australasia, where more sites are being discovered every year, she adds.

“We are in a race against time to document and learn from this rock art before it is irrevocably damaged.”

The Exceptional Discovery: Hindu Temple At Bali-Indonesia 5000+ Years Old Underwater

The Exceptional Discovery: Hindu Temple At Bali-Indonesia 5000+ Years Old Underwater

Hinduism is the world’s oldest Civilization having a history of over 12000 years; had influence almost across the World till western Abrahamic religions formed some 2,500 years back which are rejecting/destroying great ancient human heritage wherever they spread!

The island of Bali is part of the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, but Bali’s population is over 90% Hindu. Much of Indonesia was Hindu prior to the arrival of Muslims in the 13th to 16th centuries.

The impressive ancient temples of the Hindus can be found on Java and many other Islands, but Bali has the most temples, and the most unusual temple. The “Devata Vishnu” temple is underwater – 90 feet beneath the ocean’s surface near Pemuteran Beach in North West Bali.

East Asia is the ultimate region where you will find many Hindu/Buddhist ancient temples.

The famous ones include Angor Wat (Cambodia) and ones in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Korea, Japan, China, etc. These temples, dating back many years are mostly in a dilapidated state and efforts are being made to restore them.

Hinduism- one of the world’s oldest Civilizations has placed its traces all over the world. Some of those traces discovered in recent times of technology are unbelievable and are beyond the justification of mankind!

One such unusual temple found on the Island of Bali is a Delight to Human eyes on its own. The ‘Devata Vishnu’ temple is underwater – 90 feet beneath the ocean’s surface near Pemuteran Beach in North West Bali.

This amazing Building & Architecture Technology of ‘Sanatan Dharma’ was converted into a Temple Garden in 2005 for promoting tourism in Indonesia.

Recently the Government of Vietnam, despite its official Communist doctrine, has developed many programs and projects highlighting Vietnam’s ancient religious heritage. Its scholarly and Archaeological research and investigations are legitimate and its conclusions are authoritative.

This discovery of a 5000- 4500-year-old Vishnu sculpture is truly historic and it sheds new light upon our understanding of the history of not only Hinduism but of the entire world.

The Exceptional Discovery: Hindu Temple At Bali-Indonesia 5000+ Years Old Underwater

A number of stories and pictures circulating online for a few years state that an ancient Hindu Temple was discovered deep in the middle of the sea, off the coast of Pemuteran, Bali in Indonesia.

It is also said that the amazing underwater temple was built about a thousand years ago and it was converted into a Temple Garden to promote tourism in the year 2005. The facts claimed about the temple is not a hoax but a fact.

‘Pemuteran is a small coastal village in the town of Bali, 50 kilometres west of Singaraja, Indonesia. Beneath the surface of its calm waters lies the underwater Balinese Hindu temple with a majestic split gate (temple structure) and statues of mythological creatures.

The location named as Taman Pura (Temple Garden) was an idea of Chris Brown (affectionately called Pak Nyoman), an Australian who has been dedicated to conserving the natural beauty of Pemuteran village and the well-being of its people.’

World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag

World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag

About half a million years ago, early homo Erectus on java was already using freshwater mussel shells as weapons and as a “canvas” for engraving. An international team of researchers, led by Leiden archaeologist José Joordens, published this discovery Nature.

The discovery provides new insights into the evolution of human behaviour.

Not only Homo sapiens made engravings

“Until this discovery, it was assumed that comparable engravings were only made by modern humans (Homo sapiens) in Africa, starting about 100,000 years ago,” says lead author José Joordens, a researcher at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University.

World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag
Scientists found deliberate scratching on a fossil Pseudodon, likely an engraving made by Homo erectus at Trinil in Indonesia.

A team of 21 researchers studied hundreds of fossil shells and associated finds and sediments from the Homo erectus site Trinil, on the Indonesian island of Java.

The shells are part of the Dubois Collection that has been held at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center since the end of the 19th century. The shells were excavated by the Dutch physician and researcher Eugène Dubois, the discoverer of Pithecanthropus erectus — now known as Homo erectus.

Engravings older than weathering

The discovery of an engraved geometrical pattern on one of the shells came as a total surprise. The zig-zag pattern, which can only be seen with oblique lighting, is clearly older than the weathering processes on the shell arising from fossilization.

The study has excluded the possibility that the pattern could have been caused by animals or by natural weathering processes and shows that the ‘zigzag’ pattern is the work of Homo erectus.

Five hundred thousand years old

By applying two dating methods, researchers at the VU University Amsterdam and Wageningen University have determined that the shell with the engraving is minimally 430,000 and maximally 540,000 years old. This means that the engraving is at least four times older than the previously oldest known engravings, found in Africa.

Purpose or meaning of the engraving?

“It’s fantastic that this engraved shell has been discovered in a museum collection where it has been held for more than a hundred years. I can imagine people may be wondering whether this can be seen as a form of early art,” says Wil Roebroeks, Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at Leiden University.

Viewed up close, one fossil Pseudodon shell from Java shows evidence of engraving.
See the hole on the inside of this fossil Pseudodon shell? Homo erectus likely bored into the shell at exactly at the spot where the adductor muscle attaches to pop it open.

He was able to finance this long-term research with his NWO Spinoza Prize. “At the moment we have no clue about the meaning or purpose of this engraving.”

Early human-like mussel collector

This research has shown that these early human-like people were very clever about how they opened these large freshwater mussels; they drilled a hole through the shell using a sharp object, possibly a shark’s tooth, exactly at the point where the muscle is attached that keeps the shell closed.

“The precision with which these early humans worked indicates great dexterity and detailed knowledge of mollusc anatomy,” says Frank Wesselingh, a researcher and expert on fossil shells at Naturalis. The molluscs were eaten and the empty shells were used to manufacture tools, such as knives.

Possible follow-on research

This discovery from the historical Dubois collection sheds unexpected new light on the skills and behavior of Homo erectus and indicates that Asia is a promising and, so far, relatively unexplored area for finding intriguing artifacts.

From the Netherlands, researchers at Leiden University, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the universities of Wageningen and Delft, and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands were involved in the research.

This research is being financed by research funding from the NWO Spinoza Prize.

Archaeologists Have Discovered a Pristine 45,000-Year-Old Cave Painting of a Pig That May Be the Oldest Artwork in the World

Archaeologists Have Discovered a Pristine 45,000-Year-Old Cave Painting of a Pig That May Be the Oldest Artwork in the World

Archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia – a wild pig – believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago. Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene.

Archaeologists Have Discovered a Pristine 45,000-Year-Old Cave Painting of a Pig That May Be the Oldest Artwork in the World
This painting of a wild pig in the Leang Tedongnge cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is thought to be the oldest representational art in the world.

The picture was found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi. It provides the earliest evidence of human settlement of the region.

“The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked,” said Maxime Aubert, the co-author of the report published in Science Advances journal.

A dating specialist, Mr. Aubert had identified a calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting and used Uranium-series isotope dating to determine that the deposit was 45,500 years old.

This makes the artwork at least that old. “But it could be much older because the dating that we’re using only dates the calcite on top of it,” he added.

The world’s oldest-known representational art was recently discovered on the back wall of Leang Tedongnge cave.

The report says that the painting, which measures 136cm by 54cm (53in by 21in), depicts a pig with horn-like facial warts characteristic of adult males of the species.

There are two handprints above the back of the pig, which also appears to be facing two other pigs that are only partially preserved. Co-author Adam Brumm said: “The pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs.”

This painting of three pigs, now thought to be the world’s oldest-known representational art, has been damaged over the millennia, leaving only one figure intact.

To make the handprints, the artists would have had to place their hands on a surface before spitting pigment over it, the researchers said. The team hopes to be able to extract DNA samples from the residual saliva as well.

The painting maybe the world’s oldest art depicting a figure, but it is not the oldest human-produced art.

In South Africa, a hashtag-like doodle created 73,000 years ago is believed to be the oldest known drawing.

‘Stand by for more discoveries’

This stone flake marked with ochre was discovered in Blombos Cave in South Africa.

Sulawesi is in a key location. It’s the largest island in a group that scientists often refer to as Wallacea after the great 19/20th Century naturalist Alfred Wallace.

The group sits on a dividing line, either side of which you find very different animals and plants.

But Wallacea’s significance also is that it must have been a stepping stone for modern humans as they made their way to Australia. We know they were on that landmass some 65,000 years ago, so it’s reasonable to assume they were also on Sulawesi at the same time or even earlier.

This raises the tantalizing prospect of there being figurative art out there, either on Sulawesi or the immediate islands, that are older still than 45,500 years old.

The limestone hills about an hour’s drive from Makassar have innumerable nooks and crannies, just like the cave at Leang Tedongnge.

Stand by for more discoveries.

The expectation is that even older paintings will be discovered

World’s Oldest Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in Borneo Cave Indonesia

World’s Oldest Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in Borneo Cave Indonesia

According to recent research that indicates that humans may have taken this art tradition with them as they moved from Africa, prehistoric cave paintings of animals and human hands in Indonesia are as old as similar paintings found in Western Europe.

Limestone karst of East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

“Until now, we’ve always believed that cave painting was part of a suite of complex symbolic behaviour that humans invented in Europe,” says archaeologist Alistair Pike of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “This is actually showing that it’s highly unlikely that the origin of painting caves was in Europe.”

For decades, Indonesian researchers have known about rock art in limestone caves and rock shelters on an island called Sulawesi. The hand stencils and images of local animals, such as the “pig-deer,” or babirusa, were assumed to be less than 10,000 years old because scientists thought that the humid tropical environment would have destroyed anything older.

The oldest dated hand stencil in the world (upper right) and possibly the oldest figurative depiction in cave art—a female babirusa (a hoglike animal also called a pig-deer)—were found in Leang Timpuseng cave in Sulawesi, an island east of Borneo.

“The truth of it was, no one had really tried to date it,” says Matt Tocheri of the Human Origins Program of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “It’s not easy to date rock art.”

Now, though, in the journal Nature, a group of researchers from Indonesia and Australia, led by Maxime Aubert and Adam Brumm, have analyzed mineral deposits that formed on top of these paintings in seven caves.

Their analysis shows that one hand stencil is at least 39,900 years old and a painting of a babirusa is at least 35,400 years old.

Those ages are comparable to the age of a painted rhinoceros from the famous Chauvet Cave in France, which has been dated to 35,300 to 38,827 years ago. The oldest known cave painting is a red disk found on the wall of a Spanish cave that’s at least 40,800 years old.

This painting of a cattle-like animal in a Borneo cave has been dated at at least 40,000 years old, making it the oldest known figurative rock art in the world.

The fact that people in Indonesia were also painting cave walls way back then suggests “it is possible that rock art emerged independently at around the same time and at roughly both ends of the spatial distribution of early modern humans,” the research team writes in Nature.

But another possibility is that this type of art is much older, though scientists haven’t found evidence of it in the archaeological record.

“When something like this shows up almost instantaneously, all over the distribution of humans, within say 10,000 years, the odds are it’s something from our ancestors,” says John Shea of Stony Brook University in New York.

In Africa, our species goes back 200,000 years, Shea notes. But archaeological sites there tend to be found in shallow caves that are relatively exposed to wind and the hot, humid conditions — unlike the deep, cold caves in Europe that are ideal for preserving artwork.

Human figures from East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. This style is dated to at least 13,600 years ago but could possibly date to the height of the last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago.
Composition of mulberry-coloured hand stencils superimposed over older reddish/orange hand stencils. The two styles are separated in time by at least 20,000 years.

“What we can find in older archaeological sites is evidence of symbolic behaviour, such as the production of little beads and personal adornments, the production of mineral pigments — of red ochre and other kinds of coloured pigments that people used, presumably, to decorate themselves — and traces of artistic embellishments on stone tools and on bone artefacts,” says Shea.

Figurative artwork depicting animals has been found on stone slabs in a rock shelter known as Apollo 11 in Namibia, points out Alison Brooks of George Washington University, who says these images were made more than 30,000 years ago.

“What this suggests is that this whole ability to make these things and possibly the tradition of making them is part of the cultural repertoire of the people who left Africa,” says Brooks.

She says that the paintings in Indonesia are very similar to images seen in Europe — for example, the babirusa in profile, with hair, is similar to European depictions of hairy mammoths.

But the Indonesian animals have stick legs and feet, instead of more detailed limbs. And there’s a hint of a red line that might depict the ground surface of the land that the animal is standing on, which is not found in other places.

“There are some things that are a little bit different about this,” says Brooks, though “it does seem to be that its part of the tradition.”

Fossilized Insect Discovered Not in Amber, But in Opal

Fossilized Insect Discovered Not in Amber, But in Opal

For not just its lush, fiery hues, but also its elaborate contributions to the fossil record of the Earth, Amber has long been prized. As Vasika Udurawane writes for Earth Archives, the petrified tree resin starts out as a viscous liquid, slowly hardening over millions of years and preserving the entrapped remains of creatures that find themselves caught up in the process.

To date, researchers have recovered amber fossils featuring such lively scenes as a spider attacking a wasp, an ant beleaguered by a parasitic mite, and even a lizard seemingly suspended in mid-air—or rather mid-amber.

Until now, Gizmodo’s Ryan F. Mandelbaum reports, most scientists believed that such high-quality fossil specimens were unique to amber. But an intriguing find by gemologist Brian Berger could upend this notion, proving that the slow-forming gemstone opal is also capable of preserving the remains of ancient animals.

Writing in a blog post for Entomology Today, Berger explains that he recently purchased an opal originating from the Indonesian island of Java. Dotted with a rainbow of colors—from amber-Esque shades of yellow and red to neon green and dark blue—the gemstone is impressive in and of itself. Add in the insect seemingly entombed within, however, and the opal transforms from a precious stone into a significant scientific discovery.

“You can see what appears to be a complete insect encased beautifully inside,” Berger notes. “… The insect appears to have an open mouth and to be very well preserved, with even fibrous structures extending from the appendages.”

Gemologist Brian Berger purchased the Indonesian opal last year (Brian Berger)

According to Gizmodo’s Mandelbaum, it’s possible the bug was trapped in amber that then underwent a process known as opalization. Much like fossilization turns bone into stone, opalization can render organic specimens opals’ hapless prisoners.

Michelle Starr of Science Alert points out that researchers currently have a limited understanding of opal formation. Right now, the dominant theory involves silica-laden water, which flows across sediment and fills cracks and cavities in its path. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind silica deposits, starting a process that repeats until an opal finally forms.

In Indonesia, home of Berger’s specimen, opalization takes on an added twist. Volcanic fluid, rather than simply water, races over the Earth and fills faults. As the fluid cools down, water contained within leaves behind silica deposits, launching the lengthy journey of opal formation.

It’s worth noting, according to Starr, that opalization appears to require a hollow cavity. Amber, however, does not fit these parameters, leaving scientists puzzled over how the opal in question if it indeed started out as amber, came to be.

Ben McHenry, senior collection manager of Earth sciences at the South Australian Museum, tells Starr that the specimen could share similarities with opalized wood, which is a common occurrence in Indonesia.

In an interview with Gizmodo’s Mandelbaum, Ryan McKellar, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, adds that Berger’s opal reminds him of a specimen featuring wood partially embedded in resin.

The section of the wood covered in amber was preserved much like a fossilized insect, but the other side, exposed to the natural environment, transformed into petrified wood.

Moving forward, Berger hopes to recruit an entomologist or paleontologist better equipped to study the unusual opal and its insect resident.

As Science Alert’s Starr notes, the gemologist has already submitted the stone to the Gemological Institute of America, which issued a report authenticating the specimen as “unaltered, untampered precious opal, with a genuine insect inclusion.”

Reflecting on the find’s potential significance in an interview with Starr, Berger concludes, “If the process of formation is correct, from tree sap with an insect through a sedimentary process, to copal, to amber, to opal it could mean the insect has the possibility to be one of the oldest ever discovered.”

Rare Ancient Child Burial Reveals 8,000-Year-Old Secrets of the Dead

Rare Ancient Child Burial Reveals 8,000-Year-Old Secrets of the Dead

Humanity has done a pretty good job of recording its collective history over the past two or three thousand years. Earlier time periods, though, are still very much shrouded in mystery. Now, a groundbreaking new archaeological discovery in Indonesia is revealing secrets from 8,000 years ago.

Entrance to Makpan cave, Alor Island, where the burial was discovered.

Archaeologists from The Australian National University have discovered an ancient child burial site located on Alor Island, Indonesia. While a funeral for a child is no doubt a morose and depressing event in any century, this unearthing is providing some invaluable insight on early mid-Holocene era cultural and burial practices.

Stunning burial practices unearthed

Articulated left foot (bottom left) and right foot (center) excavated in the ANU laboratory.

According to lead researcher Dr Sofia Samper Carro, it’s clear that the child was laid to rest with a formal ceremony of some kind. The research team estimates the child was between four and eight-years-old at the time of death.

Ochre pigment was applied to the cheeks and forehead and an ochre-coloured cobblestone was placed under the child’s head when they were buried,” she says in a university release. “Child burials are very rare and this complete burial is the only one from this time period,”

“From 3,000 years ago to modern times, we start seeing more child burials and these are very well studied. But, with nothing from the early Holocene period, we just don’t know how people of this era treated their dead children. This find will change that.”

Of particular note is the fact that the child’s arms and legs appear to have been removed and stored elsewhere before the rest of the body was buried. This sounds rather odd from a modern perspective, but researchers say it isn’t wholly unprecedented.

“The lack of long bones is a practice that has been documented in several other burials from a similar time period in Java, Borneo and Flores, but this is the first time we have seen it in a child’s burial,” Dr Carro adds.

Why did ancient cultures remove arms and legs before burials?

The answer is probably lost to the sands of time, but researchers theorize some form of religion or spiritual belief is a likely explanation.

“We don’t know why long bone removal was practised, but it’s likely some aspect of the belief system of the people who lived at this time,” Carro adds.

While teeth examinations project the child as being around six to eight-years-old, the full skeleton appears to be closer to four or five-years-old.

“We want to do some further paleo-health research to find out if this smaller skeleton is related to diet or the environment or possibly to being genetically isolated on an island,” the lead researcher comments. “My earlier work from Alor showed adult skulls were also small.

These hunter-gatherers had a mainly marine diet and there is evidence to suggest protein saturation from a single food source can cause symptoms of mal-nourishment, which affects growth. However, they could have been eating other terrestrial resources such as tubers.”

“By comparing other adult burials we have found from the same time period with this child burial in a future project, we hope to build a chronology and general view of burial practices in this region from between 12,000 to 7,000 years ago which at the moment is still scant.”

World’s oldest pyramid is hidden in an Indonesian mountain, claimed scientists

World’s oldest pyramid is hidden in an Indonesian mountain, claimed scientists

An immense structure like a pyramid in Indonesia, which could be remains of an ancient temple that hid for thousands of years underground. At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), scientists provided proof of the extraordinary structure.

Located atop Mount Padang in West Java, the structure is topped by an archaeological site that holds rows of ancient stone pillars.

Situated at top of Mount Padang in western Java, the building is surrounded by an archaeological site, discovered at the beginning of the 19th century, with rows of ancient stone pillars. But the sloping “hill” underneath isn’t part of the natural, rocky landscape; it was crafted by human hands, scientists discovered.

“What is previously seen as just surface building, it’s going down-and it’s a huge structure,” said Andang Bachtiar, an independent geologist from Indonesia who supervised core drilling, using methods like Diamond Drilling, and soil analysis for the project.

Though the buried structure may superficially resemble a pyramid, it differs from similar pyramids built by the Mayans, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, lead project researcher and a senior scientist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told Live Science.

While Mayan pyramids tend to be symmetrical, this structure is elongated, with what appears to be a half-circle in the front.

“It’s a unique temple,” Natawidjaja said.

He and his colleagues suspected that the exposed megalith might be more than it appeared because some partly exposed features in the existing archaeological site didn’t quite match the standing stones. The “peculiar” shape of the hill also stood out from the landscape, he said.

“It’s not like the surrounding topography, which is very much eroded. This looks very young. It looked artificial to us,” Natawidjaja explained.

Using an array of techniques to peer underground-including ground-penetrating radar surveys, X-ray tomography, 2D and 3D imaging, core drilling, and excavations-the researchers gradually uncovered several layers of a sizable structure.

It spread over an area of around 15 hectares (150,000 square meters) and had been built up over millennia, with layers representing different periods.

At the very top were pillars of basalt rocks framing step terraces, with other arrangements of rock columns “forming walls, paths, and spaces,” the scientists reported at AGU. They estimated this layer to be about 3,000 to 3,500 years old.

Underneath the surface, to a depth of about 10 feet (3 m), was the second layer of similar rock columns, thought to be 7,500 to 8,300 years old.

And a third layer, extending 49 feet (15 m) below the surface, is more than 9,000 years old; it could even date to 28,000 years ago, according to the researchers. Their surveys also detected multiple chambers underground, Natawidjaja added.

Today, local people still use the exposed site at the top of the structure as a sacred destination for prayer and meditation, and this could also be how it was used thousands of years ago, Natawidjaja said.