Category Archives: Indonesia

Asian Homo erectus in the spotlight

Two recent news conspire to claim that the affinity with us of Asian Homo erectus was less like us than we used to think.

Beijing brain

Sinathropus pekinensis

On one side the so-called Peking Man, Sinanthropus or Homo erectus pekinensis (right), one of the most representative fossils of the species, has seen its brain throughly researched and the researchers conclude that:

Compared with modern humans, Peking man’s brain casts have small brain size, low height and low position of the greatest breadth, flat frontal and parietal lobes, depressed Sylvian areas, strong posterior projection of the occipital lobes, anterior positioning of the cerebellar lobes relative to the occipital lobes, and relative simplicity of the meningeal vessels.


The anatomical structures of Peking man’s brain maybe differs from the modern human, suggesting that Peking man had no ability to communicate with each other in the form of language.

Open to interpretation, I guess. Remember that chimpanzees have to at least some extent a language-ready brain, it may not be as simple.

Source: PhysOrg (via Archaeology in Europe).

Java terrace’s datings

On the other hand there are new datings of the river trench where the remnants of Homo erectus soloensis (aka Ngandong man) have been found.

Previous measures (Swisser 1996) produced dates of 25-57 Ka ago on bovid bones collected near the human specimens. However this new paper dates certain geological features (pumices) of the terraces that the authors consider a more reliable reference. These produce dates that are internally inconsistent (c. 546 Ka with the argon method and c. 143 Ka with the ESR/uranium one) but clearly older than the ones of Swisser.

Again open to interpretation and debate, I’d say.

E. Indriati, The Age of the 20 Meter Solo River Terrace, Java, Indonesia and the Survival of Homo erectus in Asia. PLoS ONE 2011. Open access.

Found via Dienekes.

Fig. 2, showing the H. erectus finding sites and the pumice now dated

Posted by on June 30, 2011 in China, East Asia, Homo erectus, Indonesia, mind


Neolithic findings in Sumatra and West Papua

A brief note from the Jakarta Globe (via Stone Pages’ Arhaeo News), detailing some Neolithic findings in Aceh, Norther Sumatra:

Takengon, Aceh. Two archeologists from Medan have found evidence that a village in Central Aceh district had been inhabited by prehistoric humans.

Ketut Wiradnyana and Lucas Partanda Koestoro announced on Sunday that they had found artifacts such as a a square stone axe, a niche, pottery pieces and a human skeleton inside a cave near Danau Laut Tawar, a lake in Kampung Mendale.

“One of our latest discoveries is a human skeleton which we found in the Ujung Karang Kebayakan area, another excavation site near Kampung Mendale,” Ketut said.

The skeleton’s exact age has yet to be confirmed, since the excavation is still ongoing.

Ketut said the artifacts would have to undergo a carbon dating test at the National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan).

Last May, residents of Jayapura district in Papua Province found prehistoric relics at two different locations.

Hari Suroto, head of a research team from the Archeological Institute, said locals who were digging at Kalkote, a small village in East Sentani district, came across pottery pieces now believed to date back to 1500 BC, or during the Neolithic Age.

The team also established that the same type of pottery was found in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea, in 1996.

Hari said Lapita pottery was previously discovered in many places in the Pacific region and the Bismarck Islands.

Residents of Kwadare village in Waibu district also found a bronze axe, which the archeological team said was made in 300 BC and originally came from Dong Son, North Vietnam.

The axe was kept by the village chieftain instead of being entrusted to the Archaeological Institute.

Hari said axe-making was introduced to Papua’s northern coastal regions by the Austronesian people.

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Posted by on October 9, 2010 in archaeology, Indonesia, Neolithic, SE Asia