Laboratoire d'archéologie préhistorique UNIGE
Indonesian Megaliths: A Forgotten Cultural Heritage
By Tara Steimer-Herbet
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An exploration of Indonesian megaliths based on scientific documents and field visits, this work highlights misunderstood—and sometimes threatened by destruction—aspects of Indonesian cultural heritage and offers a unique perspective on megalithic monuments abandoned for several centuries in the archipelago.
Indonesian Megaliths: A forgotten cultural heritage' highlights aspects of Indonesian culture which are currently misunderstood and sometimes threatened by destruction. Although they are relatively recent in origin, the Indonesian megaliths offer similarities to their counterparts in the Middle East and Arabia: they reflect the rise to prominence of local chiefs in a context of acculturation which prompted the need to build megalithic monuments to bury the dead, and to honour, commemorate and communicate with ancestors. In societies of oral tradition, these stones punctuate the landscape to transmit the memory of men and social structure from one generation to the next. Based on scientific documents (articles, archaeological reports) and field visits, this new exploration clarifies various elements of the Indonesian megaliths, including their function in the daily life of the tribes and the use of certain stones for musical purposes (lithophony). In Nias, Sumba and Toraya, the megalith tradition is still alive and ethno-anthropological studies of these three regions provide a unique chance to complement the archaeological perspectives on megalithic monuments abandoned for several centuries in the rest of the Archipelago. The book includes numerous photographs documenting the monuments which were taken during the author’s stay in Indonesia (2010-2013).