Sangiran Early Man Site

Sangiran Early Man Site

Source : unesco.org

Excavations here from 1936 to 1941 led to the discovery of the first hominid fossil at this site. Later, 50 fossils of Meganthropus palaeo and Pithecanthropus erectus/Homo erectus were found – half of all the world’s known hominid fossils. Inhabited for the past one and a half million years, Sangiran is one of the key sites for the understanding of human evolution.

Justification for Inscription

The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated site under cultural criteria (iii) and (vi) as one of the key sites for the understanding of human evolution that admirably illustrates the development of Homo sapiens sapiens from the Lower Pleistocene to the present through the outstanding fossil and artefactual material that it has produced.

Sangiran is one of the key sites for the understanding of human evolution. It illustrates the development of Homo sapiens sapiens from the Lower Pleistocene to the present through the outstanding fossil and artefactual material that it has produced.

The archaeological site of Sangiran is situated 15 km east of Solo. The geological stratigraphy of the Sangiran area covers 2 million years, from the late Pliocene to the recent periods. The Lower and Middle Pleistocene Ievels have produced considerable fossil and artefactual material. Fifty early human fossils (Pithecanthropus erectus/Homo erectus ) have been found, representing 50% of all the known hominid fossils in the world, together with numerous animal and floral fossils such as rhinoceros, elephant ivory, buffalo horn, deer horn and many others.

Palaeolithic stone tools (Sangiran flakes) found at Ngebung include flakes, choppers and cleavers in chalcedony and jasper and, more recently, bone tools. The site has also produced Neolithic axes. This evidence indicates that hominids have inhabited the area for at Ieast 1.5 million years. The Palaeolithic tools can be dated to around 800,000 BP, and the sequence of cultural material from this period through to the Neolithic illustrates continuous evolution of man in relation to the ecosystem over a long period.

The geology of the Sangiran Early Man Site is sedimentary in origin, beginning with the late Pliocene. It was deformed into a domed anticline by diaper intrusion. The summit was subsequently eroded by river action, turning it into a recessed, reversed dome. Early hominid fossils occur in successive formations, starting with the Pucangang (0.5-1.5 million years BP), but more particularly in the Kabuh (0.25-0.5 million years BP) and Notopuro (11,000-250,000 years BP). Nowadays, it is an unfertile hill and the region is now entirely devoted to peasant agriculture.

Ever since von Koenigswald found flake tools in the Ngebung village in 1934, the site has made an immense contribution to the study of evolution over the past million years by illustrating the evolution of Homo erectus . Homo erectus is important to the study of the early history of mankind before the emergence of the modern Homo sapiens . Fossils of Homo erectus have been found from time to time in a site covering 8 km by 7 km since 1936 to the present day.

Not only has the Sangiran site contributed to the understanding of the family tree of mankind, it has also thrown much light the evolution of culture, of animals, and of the ancient environment. Large quantities of human and animal fossils, along with Palaeolithic tools, have been found on the Sangiran site in a geological-stratigraphical series that has been laid down continuously for more than 2 million years.

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