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Faces in the stone: Further finds of anthropomorphic engravings suggest a discrete artistic tradition flourished in Timor-Leste in the Terminal Pleistocene

Faces in the stone: Further finds of anthropomorphic engravings suggest a discrete artistic tradition flourished in Timor-Leste in the Terminal Pleistocene
Faces in the stone: Further finds of anthropomorphic engravings suggest a discrete artistic tradition flourished in Timor-Leste in the Terminal Pleistocene
Engraving sites are rare in mainland and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) where painted art dominates the prehistoric artistic record. Here we report two new engraving sites from the Tutuala region of Timor-Leste comprising mostly humanoid forms carved into speleothem columns in rock-shelters. Engraved face motifs have previously been reported from Lene Hara Cave in this same region, and one was dated to the Pleistocene–Holocene transition using the Uranium–Thorium method. We discuss the engravings in relation to changes in technology and material culture that took place in the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene archaeological records in this region of Timor as well as neighbouring islands. We suggest that the engravings may have been produced as markers of territorial and social identity within the context of population expansion and greater inter-group contacts at this time.
0959-7743
129-142
O'Connor, Sue
28374a02-b755-461e-b424-0ba52a83bfb8
Oliveira, Nuno Vasco
2ac9b62d-aca6-4916-9e8d-c64fa3f6d1d5
Standish, Christopher
0b996271-da5d-4c4f-9e05-a2ec90e8561d
García-Diez, Marcos
fc8c2fcd-9bbb-4824-a89a-fab1f33da89d
Kealy, Shimona
ea6c0b32-b8ec-41b7-ab4d-447ed6b8b8bf
Shipton, Ceri
97c2b0d7-74c6-4f8d-a706-ff318728e8df
O'Connor, Sue
28374a02-b755-461e-b424-0ba52a83bfb8
Oliveira, Nuno Vasco
2ac9b62d-aca6-4916-9e8d-c64fa3f6d1d5
Standish, Christopher
0b996271-da5d-4c4f-9e05-a2ec90e8561d
García-Diez, Marcos
fc8c2fcd-9bbb-4824-a89a-fab1f33da89d
Kealy, Shimona
ea6c0b32-b8ec-41b7-ab4d-447ed6b8b8bf
Shipton, Ceri
97c2b0d7-74c6-4f8d-a706-ff318728e8df

O'Connor, Sue, Oliveira, Nuno Vasco, Standish, Christopher, García-Diez, Marcos, Kealy, Shimona and Shipton, Ceri (2021) Faces in the stone: Further finds of anthropomorphic engravings suggest a discrete artistic tradition flourished in Timor-Leste in the Terminal Pleistocene. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 31 (1), 129-142. (doi:10.1017/S0959774320000323).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Engraving sites are rare in mainland and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) where painted art dominates the prehistoric artistic record. Here we report two new engraving sites from the Tutuala region of Timor-Leste comprising mostly humanoid forms carved into speleothem columns in rock-shelters. Engraved face motifs have previously been reported from Lene Hara Cave in this same region, and one was dated to the Pleistocene–Holocene transition using the Uranium–Thorium method. We discuss the engravings in relation to changes in technology and material culture that took place in the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene archaeological records in this region of Timor as well as neighbouring islands. We suggest that the engravings may have been produced as markers of territorial and social identity within the context of population expansion and greater inter-group contacts at this time.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 25 August 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 September 2020
Published date: February 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 444387
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/444387
ISSN: 0959-7743
PURE UUID: 1887b760-95a8-49a6-9797-498b0df1bb02
ORCID for Christopher Standish: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9726-295X

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Date deposited: 16 Oct 2020 16:30
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 02:11

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Contributors

Author: Sue O'Connor
Author: Nuno Vasco Oliveira
Author: Marcos García-Diez
Author: Shimona Kealy
Author: Ceri Shipton

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