Mei 29, 2014

The Megalithic Complex of Highland Jambi: An Archaeological Perspective

Dominik Bonatz, John David Neidel, & Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz, "The Megalithic Complex of Highland Jambi: An Archaeological Perspective", Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde (BKI), 162, 4, (2006): 490-522.


THE HIGHLANDS of Sumatra remain one of the most neglected region of insular Southesat Asia in terms of history and archeology. No comprehensive research program incorporating both a survey and excavation within a defined geographical or environmental sone has been carried out there since Van der Hoop (1932) conducted his study of the megaliths on the Pasemah plateau in the 1930s. Meanwhile, Van der Hoop’s investigations and several other archeological research activities at places such as northwest Lampung (McKinnon 1993), Pasemah (Sukendar and Sukidjo 1983-4; Caldwell 1997; Kusumawati and Sukendar 2000), Kerinci (Laporan 1995a, 1996a), and the Minangkabau heartland (Miksic 1986, 1987, 2004) have placed special emphasis on the megalithic remains. As a result, the megalithic are by far best-known archeological attraction of the Sumatran highlands.

The morphological diversity of the stone sculptures in this vast and remote region suggest of the existence of different cultural units in the prehistory of highlands Sumatra. Dating the so-called megalithic complexes and putting them in a largesr historical and socio-economic context, however, still pose many problems. Megalith that have remained particularly understudied are those located in the regions of Kerinci, Serampas, Sungai Tenang and Pratin Tuo, which, being situated in the mountainous area at the western border of Jambi Province, jointly constitute the Jambi highlands.

Due to the lack archeological information about this region, and new research program was initiated at 2003. Based on official collaboration between Indonesian, German and Swiss institutions, this program has had two fieldwork sessions and included researcher from a variety of disciplines. The objective of this research program are as follows. First, to unearth the material culture of the Jamb highlands and to interpret the artifacts, including the megaliths in their archeological context. Second, to search for intra and inter-regional cultural links by means of comparative studies based on material culture. Third, to date the material culture, and thus to establish a chronology for the settlement history of the region starting from neolithization down to the introduction of Islam.

In this article, we primarily discuss the results of our second research campaign, in 2005. This campaign had two main components. The first was implementation of the series of excavations in the Serampas village o Renah Kemumu aimed at unearthing information about a megalithic site and a cluster of buried earthenwere jars. The second was documentation of all the megaliths situated in the Jambi highlands. This two components are discussed in turn following an area description and a brief summary of our research results from the firs season.[]


Full-text is available here.

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