Indonesian Megaliths: A Forgotten Cultural Heritage
by Tara Steimer-Herbet. Paperback; 205x290mm; viii+104 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (94 plates in colour). (Print RRP £30.00). 413 2018 Laboratoire d’archéologie préhistorique UNIGE
. Available both in print and Open Access.
Printed ISBN 9781784918439. £30.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781784918446.
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).
About the Author
TARA STEIMER-HERBET is a graduate of Paris 1 - Panthéon La Sorbonne where she carried out her doctoral research on developing a methodological approach to Middle Eastern archaeology. Her research led her to become particularly interested in megalithism, and the way this phenomenon is expressed in the cultural and funerary practices of the Levant and western Arabia during the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. In 2005 she excavated a sanctuary in Hadramawt (Yemen) and since 2010 has focussed on the megalithic phenomenon in Indonesia. Her research efforts currently concentrate on the preservation of megalithic monuments in the Akkar region of Lebanon as well as on characterising the megalithic phenomenon of the 3rd and 2d millennium BC in the Kuwait region of al-Subiya, Dr Steimer currently teaches ‘archaeological methodology’ and ‘megalithism in the world’ at the Laboratory of Prehistoric Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Geneva, Switzerland.