Sangiran Early Man Site is situated about 15 kilometers north of Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, covering an area of 5,600 hectares. According to a UNESCO report (1995) "Sangiran is recognized by scientists to be one of the most important sites in the world for studying fossil man". It became famous after the discovery of Homo erectus remains and associated stone artifacts (known as Sangiran flake industry) in the 1930s. There is a very significant geological sequence from the upper Pliocene until the end of Middle Pleistocene by depicting the human, faunal, and cultural evolutions within the last 2.4 million years. Excavations here from 1936 to 1941 led to the discovery of the first hominid fossil. Later, 50 fossils of Meganthropus palaeo and Pithecanthropus erectus/Homo erectus were found – half of all the world's known hominid fossils and 65% of findings in Indonesia. Inhabited for the past one and a half million years, Sangiran is one of the key sites for the understanding of human evolution.
This skull fragment consists of the upper jaw and part of facial bone. Discovered by Suherman and Toto Marsono on the banks of irrigation canals, Bapang, Krikilan Village in 1978. Being observed from the morphology and stratigraphy, the specimen is identified as archaic Homo erectus, dated about 1.5 million years ago.
Found by a resident in Perning at 1936 on the conglomerates sand layer of Pucangan Formation. Skull morphology which is not fully developed indicates that the individual is a child between 3-5 years old. The physical aspect of the findings clearly shows the characteristics of Homo erectus, with a protruding forehead, narrowing in the orbit of the eye, or the tapering of the back of the skull. By potassium-argon testing on samples of pumice found near the skull, obtained a very old dating, 1,9 - 0.4 million years old. By Argon method, is obtained the .81 million years old dating.
The structure of this Pithecanthropus Erectus from Trinil is very short but elongates to the back, with a 900 cc cranial capacity. The brow bone is protruded and there is a significant constriction on the eye orbital area, showing undeveloped brain. The back part is pointy. It is a female, noted from no skull relief development where muscular insertion develops.
Ngandong is a village on the Bengawan Solo riverbank that is located in the middle of teak forest in Blora Regency, Central Java. An excavation done by Ter Haar, Oppenoorth, and von Koenigswald in 1931 – 1933 contributed to the finding of 11 human skulls. They are described by Oppenoorth as Homo Soloensis. The skull cap is more rounded and higher, influencing a higher cranial capacity compared to those of Sangiran and Trinil, around 1,100 cc, a characteristic that shows it had developed to a later stage.
Small-sized stone tools like flake, blade, and scrapper were used for simple work like scrapping, sharpening, finishing, and cutting small objects. The edges of those tools are similar to that of a knife and there was retouching on both sides to make a jagged edge, found on some tools. One of the prominent function of a flake was for flaying animals’ skin. Flaying, a process of separating skin from the flesh, eased the preparation of animal meat and skin for various purposes. Ethnography data shows that the skin was used as cloth-making material to cover their bodies and also as a container.
For a Sangiran Homo erectus, natural resources such as jasper and chalsedony needed for making big-sized tools like an axe were not easy to find. They had to wander for around 30 km to find good materials in Kendeng Hills just for small sized materials. Therefore, Homo Erectus used andesitic-basaltic stone that were abundantly found in the lower part of Notopuro Formation. The finding of chopper, chopping tool, and hand axe in the Kedungdowo River is believed to lead to big stone tolls-bearing layer in Sangiran.
The exhibition was curated by Iwan Setiawan Bimas.
Text and photos : Iwan Setiawan Bimas
Translate : Ike Wahyuningsih and Wuri Hatmani
Edit Video : Puja Apriyanto