Accepted paper:

Changing monumental landscape in the highlands of central Borneo


Nicholas Gani (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Megaliths have been significant features in the landscape of upland central Borneo for more than 2000 years and played important roles in beliefs and cultural practices. This paper examines the changing roles of megaliths in the region in light of historical events and social changes over the years.

Paper long abstract:

The highland region of central Borneo is home to a unique megalithic tradition consisting of the construction of stone mounds, standing stones, stone burial jars, dolmens and boulders covered with carved symbols. In addition, other types of landscape modifications in the highlands of central Borneo include the construction of ditches, ridge cuttings and crocodile-shaped earthen effigies. Archaeological and ethnographic research among the local indigenous populations (the Kelabit, the Lun Bawang and other related groups) in the region suggest a long-term history of land use that may extend back several millennia, and a megalithic tradition that may began more than 2,000 years ago and continued up to the mid-20th century. Beginning the early 20th century, and especially after the second World War, the highlands of central Borneo have experienced several historical changes that have rapidly affected the practice of various aspects of the indigenous groups' traditional culture. By focusing on the megalithic tradition of the central highlands of Borneo, this paper aims to examine the changing roles of monuments in the lives of the local population. Specific questions to be addressed are how the perceptions of monuments have changed over the years, and how new meanings of the monumental landscape are created.

panel P21
Exploring the Archaeology of Everyday Living in Southeast Asia