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31 January 2009
Ancient human remains discovered in Bali

The human remains discovered inside a sarcophagus that was excavated recently in Keramas village, Gianyar, may be the ancestors of today's Balinese, chief of the Bali Archeology Office Wayan Suantika said. Suantika said the Keramas sarcophagus showed similarities with a number of other sarcophaguses found in Gianyar. "Earlier findings have shown that people then were already living in small groups of villages and that they were Mongoloids, the race with which most Indonesians are associated today," Suantika said.
     Last week, construction workers found a sarcophagus containing human bones when digging up a section of Jalan Raya Pura Selukat in Keramas, Blahbatuh, Gianyar. It is the 12th sarcophagus found in the Gianyar regency, and the 80th in Bali. Suantika, who led the field operation to check on the sarcophagus, said the interesting thing was that the sarcophaguses found in Gianyar tended to be found within a relatively small area and shared many similarities. He estimated that the remains may be dated as early as 500 BCE. "My estimation is based on the similarities it shared with the other discoveries, such as its shape and size," Suantika said.
     The sarcophagus was shaped like a vessel and made of a 1.5 meter long slab of rock, with a circular lid 1 meter in diameter. It was buried 2.5 meter beneath the ground. He said the sarcophagus came from the Megalithic era, which predates the Iron Age. Several Megalithic structures can still be found on the island of Nias (where a cultural tradition requires adult males to jump over a tall slab of rock) and several areas in Kalimantan.
     Meanwhile, the sarcophagus will be staying where it was found, Suantika said. "We don't want to risk taking it back to Denpasar because in the past, we have had occasions where the locals believe that moving such an artifact would bring disaster to the village," he said, adding that his office will continue making trips to the site to study the sarcophagus further.

Source: The Jakarta Post (21 January 2009)

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