Dutch colonial military torture of Indonesians


This video is called Inside prison, Indonesia under Dutch colonialism. Torture prison from Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Attorney: government liable for torture of Indonesian

Today, 01:48

According to lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld, the [Dutch] government is responsible for the treatment of an Indonesian prisoner by Dutch soldiers during the so-called police actions of the late nineteen forties. According to Zegveld there was “systematic torture”.

She relies on the testimony of the former prisoner, other sources and on the Note on Excesses from 1969, the report of a government investigation into the actions of the Dutch army in the former colony.

The now 86-year-old Mr. Yaseman was captured in 1947 in East Java by soldiers of the KNIL, the Royal Dutch East Indies Army. He was suspected of supporting the movement which sought independence for Indonesia. To get a confession, Yaseman is said to have got electric shocks. Also, he would be forced to drink lots of water, and then interrogators would stand on his belly, the so-called water ordeal.

Five days

According to Zegveld Yaseman suffered serious psychological and physical harm on account of the torture. She is seeking damages. The level of this amount is not clear. Because of the age of her client she wants a response within five days from the Dutch State, reports the Committee Dutch Debts of Honour.

Zegveld has been working longer for victims of the police actions. Like, she advised the widows of men who at that time were executed by Dutch troops. In 2013, they got an apology and compensation.

New bird species discovery in Indonesia


This video from Indonesia is about the newly discovered species Muscicapa sodhii.

From the Birds Alive newsletter:

Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa sodhii)

A new species of Muscicapa flycatcher, which has been observed on several occasions since 1997 in Sulawesi, is described. The authors collected two specimens in central Sulawesi in 2012, and based on a combination of morphological, vocal and genetic characters they describe it, named as Muscicapa sodhii, more than 15 years after the first observations. The new species is superficially similar to the highly migratory, boreal-breeding Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta, which winters in Sulawesi.

See also (in Indonesian) here.

Scientific description of the new species: here.

400,000-year-old art in Indonesia?


Reconstruction of Homo erectus with shell

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Leiden shell reveals secret about human evolution

Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 20:14

The shell was already found a hundred years ago in Java. Now it discloses a mystery: a special inscription by a hominid 400,000 years old.

It is a thin zigzag pattern, engraved by an individual of Homo erectus, the predecessor of modern man. For seven years scientists worked on the study. The prestigious scientific journal Nature publishes it as a new insight into the evolution of human behaviour.

The shell was part of a very extensive discovery, made by the Dutch scientist Eugène Dubois. At the beginning of the twentieth century he discovered much valuable prehistoric material above the Javanese village Trinil. Per ship this was transported to the Netherlands.

E-mail

Neatly documented were also the shells of freshwater mussels in a cardboard box in the institute Naturalis. Seven years ago it was opened by biologist and archaeologist José Joorens. She showed the shell to her Australian colleague Steven Munro. He made pictures of it. At home in Canberra he did his fascinating discovery. He immediately sent an e-mail to Joorens. It was the beginning of exciting research.

Joorens explains: “Munro saw a pattern of a kind of scratching on the shell. He was really surprised. Normally something like that should not be present in a shell…” In Leiden Joorens along with fellow researcher Frank Wesselingh needed a lot of time for further investigation. They had to consider all other possible causes of the scratches. Eventually they could draw no other conclusion anymore about this one shell.

“There are many things that may scratch,” said Wesselingh. “At first we did not believe ourselves what we saw. We considered all possibilities. And we can only conclude that this must have been done by a hominid.”

Until now only an engraving by Homo sapiens was known of 100,000 years old. It was found in South Africa. After the new discovery a drawing in color was made of a shaggy man who proudly displays the shell with a zigzag pattern. It is unclear what he meant. The researchers have carefully avoided to describe it as an early form of art.

“We can not look inside the head of Homo erectus,” said Joorens. “We do know that it must have taken considerable effort to make such a nice pattern. We have tried to imitate it and noticed that you have to really pay much attention to it to get it so neatly. It was absolutely a skilled individual.”

Trinil was here”

Simply it might be a message like ‘Trinil was here’, in the handwriting of someone who wanted to leave something for posterity. “A matter of pride: to show that you possess something beautiful, as you now show an iPhone,” said Wesselingh. “That shell used to be quite dark. If you scratched it would show beautiful white luminous lines. The picture on the reconstruction is more beautiful than it is now, but what it means we do not know.”

The discovery gives rise to an adjustment of knowledge and ideas about the evolution of man. “It does not show that [our species] is earlier than we thought, but that we had predecessors who also had certain skills. It also says something about ourselves, that we tend to overestimate ourselves as modern man and underestimate others.”

See also here.

Homo erectus engraving could re-write human history, and might show art began 400,000 years earlier than we knew: here.

A recent article in the scientific journal Nature reports on the discovery of what appears to be a clamshell bearing intentionally produced geometric engravings dating to approximately half a million years ago (radiometrically dated to between 430,000 and 540,000 years before the present). If confirmed, this would be the oldest symbolic representation by human ancestors yet discovered, documenting an early stage in the development of modern human cognition: here.

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.

See also here.

Saving Sulawesi’s ‘pig-deer’, the babirusa: here.