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The early civilizations of Indonesia part #1

Updated on April 2, 2013


To understand about the history of The Early Civilizations of Indonesia, we need to understand this 4 points.

  1. The migration process of Deutero Malays race and Proto Malays race to Indonesia
  2. The influence from cultural development of Bocson-Hoabinh, Dong Son, and India with the development of early societies in Indonesia
  3. The early civilizations of the world
  4. Bronze Age in Indonesia

I will try to explain those 4 point one by one, although in this part 1 series, i only explain point one and two only. Point three and four will be explain in the next hubpages.

The migration process of Deutero Malays race and Proto Malays race to Indonesia

Dutch historian Van Heine said that since 2000 BC ( in Neolithic Age ) up to the year of 500 BC ( in bronze age ), people from Asia to the islands south of it make wave of migration to Indonesia. Around 1500 BC, they were driven from Campa then moved to Cambodia and continue on to the Malay Peninsula.

Meanwhile, other nations go to the islands to the south of Asia, namely Austronesian (austro meaning south, nesos means island). Nations that inhabit the Austronesian area are called Austronesian peoples. Austronesian peoples inhabiting a very broad area, encompassing islands that stretches from Madagascar (west) to Easter Island (east) and From Taiwan (north) to New Zealand (south).

Van Heine Geldern Opinion about this is reinforced by the discovery of ancient human tools in the form of a rectangular stone pickaxe in Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and west of Sulawesi. This kind of Pickaxe was also found in Asia, namely in Malaysia, Burma
(Myanmar), Vietnam, Cambodia, and especially in the area of ​​Yunnan (South region of China).

The second wave migration occurred around 500 BC in conjunction with Bronze Age. This move also brings bronze culture, such as axe shoes and nekara or drums that came from the Dongson Area. The cultures from this area than called the Dong Son culture. Supporter of Dong Son culture is Austronesian people who live in islands in Asia and Australia. Indonesian nation ancestors left Yunan area around the upper reaches of the Salween and the Mekong River where the land is fertile which made them good at farming, sailing and trading.

In further development, the various ethnic groups that inhabit Indonesia then form their own communities that make them get their own cultures name. They come in the archipelago using the bercadik Boat as means of transportation. They sailed in groups without knowing the fear and then occupy various islands in the archipelago. It is clear that the ancestors of Indonesia are accomplished sailors who have a strong marine life. They have intelligence in sailing, navigation, and astrology In addition, they found bercadik boat models that are robust and able to deal with waves and become the typical model ship in Indonesia.

Austronesian people who entered the archipelago and then settled in Nusantara is called the Austronesian Malays or Indonesian Malay. Those who enter into Aceh area then called Aceh Tribe, those who entered the area of Borneo then Called Dayak tribe, those who enter West Java then called Sundanese, those who entered into Sulawesi then Called the Bugis and Toraja Land, and those who enter into the Jambi Area then called Kubu tribe (Lubu).

The immigrant and The local

Here we will learn about the immigrant people and the people that actually live first in Indonesia.

A. The Immigrant

Malay people can be divided into two, namely the Old Malays and Young Malays.

1. Old Malay race (Proto-Malays)

Old Malay people are Austronesian people from Asia (Yunan) whose first migrate to the archipelago in around 1500 BC. They came into the country through two road.

  1. The road west of Yunnan (South China) through the Straits of Malacca (​​Malaysia) and then entered into Sumatra and the Java. They take the form of rectangular axes tool to Indonesia.
  2. The north road (east) of Yunan via Formosa (Taiwan) into the Philippines and then to Sulawesi and then to New Guinea . They carry hatchet shaped tool to Indonesia.

Old Malay nation has rock culture because their tools made ​​of stone that has been developed, which has been refined, in contrast to early humans tools that were still rough and simple. The results of their culture known for its rectangular axes which are found in Indonesia, such as Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Borneo. The hatchet shaped mostly used by them who come through the north road, Sulawesi and Irian. According to Von Heekern research, in Kalumpang, North Sulawesi has been a blend of tradition of hatchet shaped and rectangular axes which brought by Austronesian people who came from the north, Indonesia in Formosa (Taiwan), the Philippines, and Sulawesi.

2. Young Malay (Deutero Malay)

Young Malay people also called Deutero Malays come from the Yunnan (South China) about 500 BC. They entered the country through the west road only. Young Malay successfully pushed and assimilated with the Proto-Malays. Deutero Malay enter through the Gulf of Tonkin (Yunan) to Vietnam, then to the Malay Peninsula, continues to Sumatra, and finally into Java.

Deutero Malay nation has a more advanced civilization than the Proto-Malays. They've been able to make the goods of bronze and iron. The most famous of the culture product is the funnel ax, hatchet shoes and nekara. In addition to bronze culture, Deutero Malays are also developing Megalithic culture, the culture that produces building made of large stones. The results of Megalithic culture, for example is menhirs (stone monument), dolmen (stone table), sarcophagi (coffins, corpses), grave stones, and punden terraces. Indonesia's ethnic groups including the Young Malay descent (Deutero Malay) are Javanese, Malay and Bugis.

B. The Local

Before the immigrant entered the Malay Archipelago, in fact there have been groups of people who had previously lived in the area. They include people with a primitive culture that is still very simple. Those include the following primitives.

1. Pleistocene Human

Pleistocene people life is always on the move with very limited capabilities. The similarly also apply to their cultural patterns that make it cannot be followed back, except for a few aspects. For example, the technology is still very simple (Paleolithic technology).

2. Wedoid tribe

The remains of the Wedoid tribe still exists, for example, Sakai tribe in Siak and tribal stronghold on the border of Jambi and Palembang. They live from gathering (collecting forest) and their cultured are simple. They are also difficult to adjust to modern society.

3. Negroid Tribe

In Indonesia, there is no longer the remnants of tribal life of negroid. However, in the interior of Malaysia and Philippinesm the negroid tribe still exists. Negroid tribes including race, for example, the Semang tribes in Peninsular Malaysia and Negrito tribes in the Philippines. They were eventually pushed by the modern Malay so they can only occupy the isolated rural areas.

The influence from cultural development of Bocson-Hoabinh, Dong Son, and India with the development of early societies in Indonesia

Here we will learn about the Bascon Hoabinh Culture, Dongson Culture and India Culture. We will discuss them one by one.

A. Bocson-Hoabinh

In Bacson Mountains and Hoabinh Province near Hanoi, Vietnam, a research by Madeleine Colani discovered a plethora of tools that became known as Hoabinh Bacson Culture. Similar types of equipment also found in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. Sumatra relics in the form of hills of shells called kjokkenmoddinger (kitchen waste), which extends from North Sumatra to Aceh.

The hallmark of the Hoabinh Bacson culture is flakiness on one or two sides of the stone surface which have size of a fist with a very sharp edges. The Flakiness results show various shapes, such as oval, square, and shape with waist. In Indonesia, stone tools from Hoabinh Bacson culture can be found in Papua, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara. Hoabinh Bacson culture spread along with the migration of race Melanesian Papua into Indonesia through the west and the east road (north). They come in the archipelago by bercadik boat and stayed on the east coast of Sumatra and Java, but then they were pushed by the Malay race that came later. Finally, they fled to eastern Indonesia and is now known as the Papuan race which at that time under the Mesolitikum culture. So Melanesian Papuan was the supporter of Mesolitikum Culture. Papuan race is alive and living in caves (abris sous roche) and leave the hills of shells or kitchen scraps (kjokkenmoddinger). Melanesian Papua Race arrive at the archipelago in the Holocene era. At that time the state of our planet is already habitable making it comfortable place for human life.

Kjokkenmoddinger investigation conducted by Dr. P.V. Van Stein Callenfels in 1925 found that hand-held ax called Sumatra ax, which made ​​of a stone that were cut open, the outside is not crushed, and the inside is done as necessary. Another type is the short axes (hache courte), semi-circular shape, which the sharpness located of the curved side. He also found a stone grinder (pipisan) as a food grinder or red paint, arrowheads tip, flakes, and Proto Neolithic ax.

Melanesian Papuan Race still half settled life doing hunting and simple farming. They live in caves and some in the garbage hills. Man who lived in the age of Mesolitikum culture are already familiar with arts, such as painting of what it seems to be a wild boar that are found at Leang-Leang Cave (Sulawesi). The painting contains images of animals and stamp hands.

The dead were buried in caves or scallops hills with their body put in a squat stance, some parts of the body smeared with red paint. Red is the color of blood, a sign of life. The bodies smeared red with the intent to restore their lives so that they can be contact with dialogue. Except for the stone tools, there also found the remains of bones and teeth of animals such as elephants, rhinos, bears and deer. So, in addition to collecting shells, they also hunt large animals.

In Sumatra, stone tools of Bacson-Hoabinh culture can be found in Lhokseumawe and Medan. In Java, a tool similar to Hoabinh Bacson culture tools can be found in the area around the Bengawan Solo, it found at the same time as the excavation of early human fossils. The Equipment that are found was made in a simple way, not flakes and uncut. The tool is expected to be used by this type of Pithecanthropus erectus in Sandpipers, East Java.

Mesolitikum Painting

Example of Painting of Mesolitikum Era, that are found in Leang-Leang Cave, Sulawesi.
Example of Painting of Mesolitikum Era, that are found in Leang-Leang Cave, Sulawesi. | Source

Melanesian Cultural Area

Melanesian Cultural Area
Melanesian Cultural Area | Source

2. Dong Son Culture

Dong Son culture taken from one of the names in the Tonkin region. Bronze culture in Southeast Asia commonly called Dong Son culture. In this area found an assortment of tools made of bronze. In addition it was also found nekara and cemeteries. Vessel similar to those found in Kerinci and Madura were also found there, in the Tonkin Area where bronze culture originated.

Metal processing showed a more advanced stage of life, there is already a good division of labor, society is organized. Metallurgical technique is a high technique.

The fact was pointed out to us the existence of a close relationship between Indonesia and Tonkin, that metal culture in Indonesia was a part of metal culture in Asia, based in Dong Son. From this area came in waves metal culture via the west, namely Malaysia. The Supporting culture is Austronesian peoples, also supporting rectangular axes. In Indonesia, the use of metals has been carried out since several centuries BC, that is in the year 500 BC in the form of bronze tools and bronze jewelry, while the tools of iron is in the form of ax, blade, sword, and hoes. Bronze Age cultures in Indonesia is a part of perundagian Age. Role of bronze and iron are very large, especially in the use of the tools.

Dong Son Culture has enormous influence on the development of bronze culture in Indonesia. Nekara bronze that has been made ​​in the Indonesian islands such as Sumatra, Java, and South Moluccas is a proof of the strong influence of the Dong Son culture. Some nekara found in Indonesia has significant value, for example, in Makalaman near Sumba (containing ornaments resembling the image of Han Chinese clothing) and nekara of the Kei Islands, Moluccas (horizontal row contains pictorial decoration deer). Based on the conclusions of the experts, there are a chance where those areas not make the tools themselves, but actually get it from China as there are models of domestic Chinese style decoration. The nekara were found in the area near Sumbawa Sangeng by Heine Geldern may come from Funan.

The development of metal culture in Indonesia can be seen already influenced by Dong Son culture that spread across the archipelago. There are some important areas in the development of the metal in the archipelago.

a. Initial metal culture in Java

In Java, there are relics of the metal in the early stages, was in the tombstone coffin (sarcophagus) in the Mount Kidul, Yogyakarta. Estimated as stock equipment from the grave in the form of iron.

b. Initial metal culture in Sumatra

In Pasemah, West Sumatra, there is a gravestone equipped with glass beads and some metal objects such as iron spear and a gold pin.

c. Metal culture early in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara

In Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara ( Lesser Sunda Islands ) , there is a tradition to bring metal objects and put it near coffin of the dead in burial ceremony . However, there has also been found to household appliances like a small pottery vessel and made ​​of metal. It used as provision for the dead.

d. Initial metal culture in Bali

Not different with other regions, in Bali we also find metal objects as a provision for the dead.

Thus, we can know that the culture of metal was already growing in Indonesia. Many found tomb with metal provision, this means they honor the spirits of dead ancestors with valuable goods. However, we also found the tool for the living in form of metal in the community in the past, for example, knives, spears, arrows, and sculpture.

3. India Culture

Since pre-literacy time, Indonesia's population is known as a sailor and capable of wading through the vast ocean. Greeks Geographer named Claudius Ptolemy mentioned that there were an island called Zabadiu at his time, the island actually Yavadwipa or Java or known as Rice Island.

According to Hornell, bercadik boats are the exclusive property of the Indonesian nation. Bercadik Boat also found in South India due to the influence of Indonesia because there are Thanar tribes. They do coconut cultivation and trade it with Indonesian merchants.

Trade relations between Indonesia - India turns out adds the ability to exchange cultural, religious and cultural influences from India to Indonesia. Trade relations are key factors of communication between Indonesia and India which led to the spread of Indian culture to Indonesia. However, elements from ancient Indonesia culture remains dominant, for example, caste system is not going well in Indonesia, there almost non exist. The prominent Arts Results of Temple in Indonesia during ancient Indonesia Age is a gigantic temple.

Evidence of the influence of Indian culture in Indonesia is as follows.
a. The existence of a bronze Buddha statue in Sempaga (South Sulawesi) as evidence of the oldest style amarawati (South Indian style), similar statues were also found in Jember and Siguntang Hill, South Sumatra. Other Buddha statues also found in the Bangun city, Kutai, using Gandhara style (North Indian style).

b. Inscriptions found in the Kingdom of Kutai and Tarumanegara that are affected by India, that is the use of the Sanskrit language and Pallawa lettered.

c. The existence of the temple and statues that are influence by Hindu and Buddhist.

d. The existence of Srivijaya inscription written in Old Malay lettered Pallawa that already have prominent Indonesian elements.

e. Archaeological evidence in Indonesia that prove Indian influence in Indonesian Culture.

f. In many ways the Indian influence was seen. In the area of ​​governance is the emerging of empire, in the field of cultural influences from India gave birth to magnificent temples in Indonesia, for example, the temple of Borobudur, Prambanan, in the social bonds spawned villages and feudal ties.


Temple that build that shown india influence in Indonesia
Temple that build that shown india influence in Indonesia | Source

Take a rest

It take me a week to write all of this and i think there still many mess around this, especially the grammar. Please feel free to tell me if you see any typos, bad grammar, misinformation and other stuff. There is a comment column below. I know we still have 2 more point, but i think i will save them for the next article. For now enjoy this first.



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