Jakarta (ANTARA News) - More and more prehistoric artifacts have been surfacing in Indonesia`s islands from Sumatra to Papua over the years, attesting to very deep roots of the country`s civilization.

The discovery of fossil remains of Pithecanthropus Erectus or "Java Man", the extinct hominid on the island of Java, proves that Indonesia was already inhabited bas early as two million to 500,000 years ago.

The fossil remains comprising skullcap and thighbone discovered by Eugene Dubois, a Dutch anatomist and geologist, in the early 1890s, were the first known fossils of the species Homo erectus.

Indonesia developed many well-organized kingdoms much later. Ruled by indigenous Rajas who embraced the Hindu and Buddhist religions, these kingdoms grew to become very civilized. The period of Buddhist-Hindu Kingdoms lasted from ancient history to the 15th century.

One of the early Hindu-Buddhist Kingdoms in Indonesia was the Sriwijaya Kingdom in Sumatra. The maritime and commercial kingdom flourished between the 7th and the 13th century in the Malay Archipelago.

The kingdom originated in Palembang in South Sumatra and soon extended its influence to the Strait of Malacca.

It is therefore no wonder that many historical artifacts have been found in Sumatra, finds dating back to the Sriwijaya Kingdom and even to an era long before the kingdom existed.

Recently, researchers from the Palembang Archeology Office found artifacts believed to be one thousand to 1,400 years old in Kotaraya Lembak and Gunung Kaya villages, Pajarbulan sub district, Lahat District, South Sumatra Province.

They found at least 28 artifacts consisting of among other things a megalithic kampong or settlement, seven stone chambers, four stone mortars, a menhir or a large upright standing stone, and 11 dolmens estimated to be 1,400 years old, Kristantina Indriastuti, a researcher at the Palembang Archeology Office, said.

At the same location, they also found four stackable stones, the carved image of an elephant with people on it, clay fragments, and foreign ceramics.

"While at Gunung Kaya village, Pajarbulan sub district, Lahat District, they found a large vase dating back to around 1,000 years ago, or the 10th century," she said.

Tens of artifacts of different types and shapes had earlier been unearthed in Lahat and Pagaralam so far. "Compared to other regions, Lahat and Pagaralam have the largest number of site findings," she said.

At Mingkik village, Atungbungsu, South Dempo Sub district, also in South Sumatra,, two stone caves, a stone chair, a trimurti megalith, and a megalithic kampong were discovered recently.

The Kotaraya Lembak megalithic site, located near a coffee plantation around 250 km west of Palembang, was discovered in 1988. Seven stone chambers found at the site earlier were believed to be about 2,500 years old.

Still on Sumatra Island, archeologists found some artifacts made by prehistoric humans, including a square stone axe believed to date back to 3,500 years ago, and a niche (Rock Shelter/Abris Shous Roches), pottery pieces and a human skeleton in Mendale village, Kebanyakan sub district, Takengon District, Indonesia`s wastern most province of Aceh.

Ketut Wiradnyana and Lucas Partanda Koestoro, two senior archeologists from Medan, North Sumatra last September said the Kampung Mendale area, Central Aceh district, was once inhabited by prehistoric humans.

On Indonesia`s eastern-most island of Irian (Papua), the Jayapura Archeology Service last April 2011 found two prehistoric burial sites in Pegunungan Bintang district, Papua Province.

One of the burial sites was located at Kabiding Hamlet, Oksibil subdistrict and the other one at Wanbakok Hamlet, Serambakon subdistrict.

A researcher of the Jayapura Archeology Service, Rini Maryone, said in Papua Province`c capital of Jayapura, the tribes in Pegunungan Bintang District had a prehistoric cave burial tradition, different from those residing in Pegunungan Tengah District.

Some artifacts such as splinter stones, square stone axes, were found inside and outside the burial cave sites. The artifacts indicated that prehistoric humans in the region had a hunting and gathering tradition, Rini said.

Besides the two burial sites, the Jayapura Archeology Agency also found a prehistoric cave related to the worship ritual conducted in Okmakok Hamlet, Oksibil District.

"The sites definitely have great cultural value," Rini said, adding that the local people should also preserve the prehistoric sites.

Local residents of Jayapura district, Papua, found more ancient prehistoric relics at two different locations, also in April 2011.

The leader of an Archeological Institute research team, Hari Suroto, said in Jayapura, last May 2011, that locals digging in the ground at Kalkote hamlet in East Sentani district on April 27, came across pottery pieces believed to date back to 1500 BC or the Neolithic era.

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

Besides the two relics, the archeological team had also discovered a Mesolithic cave containing tools for skinning and cutting hunted animals. The tools were discovered in Ayapo village, East Sentani district and Baborongko, Ebungfau district, Papua, and estimated to date back to around 10,000 BC and to have belonged to people of the Austromelanesian race.

Similar tools were also found in Fak Fak, West Papua province in 1930 by researchers from the Netherlands, Hari said.

Interesting archeological findings were also been made in the world`s most famous tourist island of Bali.

Two prehistoric sarcophaguses containing skeletal remains had been found earlier this year at Subak Saba, Keramas village, Blahbatuh sub district, Gianyar district, Bali Province.

According Dawa Kompyang Gede, the head researcher of the sarcophaguses at Keramas village, the sarcophaguses` age was estimated at between 2,000 and 2,500 years or were made during prehistoric times.

In Central Java, the local Archeological Office (BP3) will starting next year study a concentration of prehistoric stone mounds that were found near the Merak Temple complex recently.

"Genuine rock formations resembling parts of a temple were found around Merak Temple, and earlier, around two months ago, we discovered at least five prehistoric sites surrounding the temple," head of the Central Java BP3`s Preservation and Usage Section, Gutomo, said here on Saturday.

At a location around one kilometer from Merak Temple, researches found stone mounds in the form of stupas, he said.

The search was intended to verify an old legend about the existence of an area where no less than one thousand temples had stood in Karangnongko and Prambanan sub districts.

"As we know, in the two sub districts, there are several temples located close to each other, and most likely they are historically related," he said.

Local villagers had also found a number of prehistoric objects in their settlements and even buried under their houses.

Klaten is known as an area having many prehistoric sites in the form of temples. It is believed that there are many more unexplored prehistoric sites in the district.

BP3 researchers found a trench structure in the complex of Plaosan and Sojiwan temples in Prambanan sub district. Some 13 small temples were also discovered around Plaosan Temple during an archeological search there.

"We believe there are many more prehistoric sites buried near Merak Temple. Therefore, in 2012, we will begin a search in areas surrounding the newly renovated temple, to find out whether the location is a temple complex or not," he said.

Reporter: by Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2011