World’s oldest art discovered in Indonesia


This video about Sulawesi in Indonesia is called Cave art in the tropics.

From Nature:

World’s oldest art found in Indonesian cave

Analysis of images discovered in 1950s counters Eurocentric view of creativity’s origins.

David Cyranoski

8 October 2014

Artwork in an Indonesian cave has been found to date back at least 40,000 years, making it the oldest sign yet of human creative art — likely pre-dating art from European caves.

The findings, published on 8 October in Nature, undermine a Eurocentric view of the origins of human creativity and could prompt a ‘gold rush’ to find even older art on the route of human migration from Africa to the east.

The analysis hints at “just what a wealth of undiscovered information there is in Asia”, says Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton, UK, who in 2013 identified what had been considered the world’s oldest cave art, in Europe, and had no involvement in the current project. “This paper will likely prompt a hunt.”

The Indonesian images, discovered in a limestone cave on the island of Sulawesi in the 1950s, had previously been thought to date back only 10,000 years. Anything older would, it was assumed, have deteriorated.

Even after a technology that could test that assumption, uranium-thorium dating, became available, no one thought to apply it to the Indonesian cave — until now. Though the paint itself cannot be dated, uranium-thorium dating can estimate the age of the bumpy layers of calcium carbonate (known as ‘cave popcorn’) that formed on the surface of the paintings. As mineral layers are deposited, they draw in uranium. Because uranium decays into thorium at a known rate, the ratio of uranium to thorium isotopes in a sample indicates how old it is.

The researchers dated 12 stencils of human hands and two images of large animals. Because they sampled the top layer of calcium carbonate, the uranium dating technique gave them a minimum age for each sample.

They found that the oldest stencil was at least 39,900 years old — 2,000 years older than the minimum age of the oldest European hand stencil. An image of a babirusa, or ‘pig-deer’, resembling an aubergine with stick-like legs jutting from each end, was estimated to be 35,400 years old — around the same age as the earliest large animal pictures in European caves.

This video from Sulawesi says about itself:

17 December 2013

A Video about the Babirusa in its natural habitat, the Paguyaman Forest. Other animals such as Heck’s macaque, reticulated python, water monitor lizard, oriental whipsnake, Gunther’s keelback and various birds like knobbed hornbill or emerald dove are also shown.

The Nature article continues:

The hand stencils look similar to those found in Europe. But the animal pictures, in addition to reflecting local animals rather than mammoths as in Europe, are stylistically different. The Indonesian images “look ‘line-y’, almost like brush strokes”, says Pike, whereas early European images “look dabbed, almost like finger paint”.

“It allows us to move away from the view that Europe was special,” says Maxime Aubert, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, who led the team. “There was some idea that early Europeans were more aware of themselves and their surroundings. Now we can say that’s not true.”

Researchers posit two theories for the evolution of such artwork — either it arose independently in Indonesia, or early humans leaving Africa already had the capacity to make art, and carried it to multiple areas.

Pike thinks that researchers should seek evidence of art along the southern migration route. “India is the most obvious place to look,” he says. “I expect we’ll start getting a lot more photos [of images covered in calcium carbonate] from along that corridor from people who want to date them. This may move the field along very rapidly.” Southeast Asia will also be raked over, he predicts. There are hundreds more caves in that region of Sulawesi alone, and Aubert has also started looking in Borneo.

The discovery weakens a much-debated theory that Neanderthals, who were present in Europe until around 41,000 years ago, might have been responsible for the cave art there. “There were no Neanderthals in Sulawesi,” says Pike. But the hand stencils and choice of subject are very similar to the Indonesian figures, he adds.

Aubert hopes that the discovery might draw attention to the need to protect the caves, many of which have been damaged by mining and other industrial activity. Many of the paintings are flaking off, he says. He hopes that the site might finally, after years of candidacy, be designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Social and Cultural Organization, which would accelerate conservation efforts.

Ancient fortress discovery in Indonesia


Map of fortress in Semarang, photo Dutch national archive

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

12 Sep 2014, 16:45 (Update: 12-09-14, 17:19)

In the Indonesian city Semarang on Java, archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of an 18th century Dutch fort.

It was, according to experts, built around 1750 to house and protect Dutch soldiers. The fort certainly had five bastions, protruding defenses. which had Dutch names such as Bastion Amsterdam, Bastion Iron and Repairman.

The fortress was razed in 1824 because the structure was no longer able to accommodate all Dutch soldiers.

Five years ago

In 2009 the foundations were discovered on a piece of undeveloped land in Semarang.

Since then, research has been done. Four days ago the archaeologists started with the first excavation work. Two feet below the surface, they stumbled upon the foundations of the old Dutch fort. Hundreds of fragments of ceramic and glass jars were also found.

All of the bastions will never be exposed. At the place where they have been, condominiums will be built.

Indonesians demand compensation for massacre by Dutch soldiers


This video says about itself:

14 September 2011

A Dutch court is expected to rule if survivors of a massacre carried out more than 60 years ago will get compensation.

According to Indonesian researchers, Dutch troops wiped out almost the entire male population of a village in West Java, two years before the former colony declared independence in 1949.

No, Indonesia declared independence in 1945. However, the Dutch government only recognized independence after four years of colonial war in 1949.

Most Indonesians do not know about the massacre that took place in Rawagede.

Only recently has a monument been built to remind residents that Dutch soldiers killed all the men of the village.

The only living witnesses are now in their 80s, and illiterate, after having to fend for themselves following the deaths of their husbands.

“There were dead bodies everywhere, many of which we found in the river after the shooting stopped,” said Cawi, a survivor.

Of the nine widows and survivors who have filed the case, three have died while waiting for the verdict.

The Dutch government has admitted that war crimes were committed in Rawagede but it says the survivors filed their claims for compensation too late.

They should have done this within 30 years after the atrocities were committed, says the Dutch government.

It is now up to the judge to decide whether it is justified to have a time limit on war crimes.

The massacre in Rawagede is not the only village where the Netherlands has an unresolved dark history.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from Rawagede.

Translated from daily De Telegraaf in the Netherlands:

Thursday 28 August 2014 11:25
|
Children in Sulawesi saw executions

THE HAGUE – Monji saw on January 28, 1947 as a boy of 9 or 10 years old, that Indonesian men from Suppa village were beaten, stripped and shot by Dutch troops in South Sulawesi. The bodies were piled up and buried in holes in the ground. Eventually, 208 people were killed.

Another child who witnessed the extrajudicial killings was Paturusi (82) from the village Bulukumba. She saw that her father, a civil servant, had fled into the forest but had came out again. He was then executed. This Thursday they are two of the three children of then entering the court in The Hague. They demand a compensation of 20,000 euros from the Dutch government.

The government does not want to grant the children of executed people any compensation, as previously happened to widows of men killed.

According to lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld a statute of limitations does not apply. The children are also, like before, the widows, survivors directly involved and they are just as much victims of executions as widows. According to Zegveld it has been a very traumatic experience for the children to see their dead fathers.

Zegveld represents five children and 18 widows who have not yet received any compensation. … The widows have refused a settlement because the attorney’s fees would be deducted from their remuneration.