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Central Sulawesi megalithic sites delineated for world heritage status

Ruslan Sangadji
Ruslan Sangadji

The Jakarta Post

Palu, Central Sulawesi | Tue, July 24, 2018 | 03:47 pm
Central Sulawesi megalithic sites delineated for world heritage status

The megalithic sites are said to be located within the protected Lore Lindu National Park. (JP/Ruslan Sangadji)

The Gorontalo Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency (BPCB), which covers Central Sulawesi, North Sulawesi and Gorontalo, is conducting a delineation of the Lore Lindu Megalithic area in Central Sulawesi as part its proposal for UNESCO's world heritage committee.

Agency head Zakaria Kasimin told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the process was important because the megalithic sites, which are around 2,500 years old, are the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

"We need to delineate these megalithic sites, so we can identify its borders, as well as the status of the areas in which they are located – whether they are owned by the government or the locals," Zakaria said.

As part of the project will be carried out in several phases, including briefing a team of researchers, visiting the sites, conducting a focus group discussion and releasing a conclusion.

"We are targeting to submit the proposal of naming these megalithic sites in Central Sulawesi a world heritage to UNESCO by 2021," Zakaria said.

The existence of these sites was reportedly discovered at least two centuries ago.The existence of these sites was reportedly discovered at least two centuries ago. (JP/Ruslan Sangadji)

The megalithic sites are said to be located within the protected Lore Lindu National Park.

However, some of these areas have turned into the paddy fields and plantations owned by local residents.

"If those megalithic sites are indeed found within the locals' lands, we will have to discuss compensation, or we have to find a win-to-win solution for all," said Bunga Elim Somba from the Central Sulawesi administration.

Central Sulawesi is home to thousands of megalithic cultural sites spread across Poso, Sigi and Morowali regencies, giving it the nickname "Country of a Thousand Megaliths".

Read also: Strolling through megalithic village of Bena

The existence of these sites was reportedly discovered at least two centuries ago.

One of them, Bada Valley, also known as Napu Valley, is home to huge ancient stones that are said to offer mysteries of the Nalu, Besoa and Bada tribes' golden era. According to the agency, around 1,451 statue-like stone structures can be found in this site, which serve as pre-historic remnants said to be older than Borobudur temple.

The stone statues found in the valley have thin bodies, big heads, round eyes and lines depicting eyebrows, cheeks and chins. The stone statues found in the valley have thin bodies, big heads, round eyes and lines depicting eyebrows, cheeks and chins. (JP/Ruslan Sangadji)

The stone figures found in the valley have thin bodies, big heads, round eyes and lines to depict eyebrows, cheeks and chins. Some are standing with half their bodies buried in the vast meadow. Until today, more than 400 stone carvings have been found in Bada Valley, however only 30 depict human forms. The biggest statue reaches 4 meters in diameter and is around 4 m tall.

Other than statues, Bada Valley is also famous for its kalamba, a drum made of stone. Around 50 kalamba can be found across valley in various shapes and sizes.

"All the megalithic sites have granite stones with the highest quality that don’t exist in the mountains of Central Sulawesi," said Bunga. "It remains a mystery where these stones came from, since Central Sulawesi mountains do not have such granite stones."

According to a study by Germany researchers, the type of granite stones found in the megalithic sites are similar to those found in North America and the United Kingdom. (kes)

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