New publication: “Mainland-coastal interactions in East Borneo: Inter-site comparison and Bayesian chronological models of two Late Pleistocene–Holocene sequences (Liang Abu and Kimanis rock shelters)”

Former members of the MAFBO project published the results of the excavations carried out in the Liang Abu site in 2009 and 2012, in the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. The paper can be accessed:


  • S. Plutniak, A. Araujo, B. Sugiyanto, A. Agus Oktaviana, J.-M. Chazine, F.-X. Ricaut. 2022. “Mainland-coastal interactions in East Borneo: Inter-site comparison and Bayesian chronological models of two Late Pleistocene–Holocene sequences (Liang Abu and Kimanis rock shelters)”. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2022.2108947.


In recent decades, East Borneo has become an increasingly important archaeological “hot-spot” in Island Southeast Asia as a result of early dates for rock art ca. 38,000 BP and the greater number of excavated sites that support a much longer period of human occupation. However, the chronology of settlement and adaptation to environmental changes during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition is still poorly known. Here we report on an excavation at the Liang Abu rock shelter which has contexts dating from the Late Pleistocene (12,660 ± 58 uncal. BP) to the present day, indicating a terminus ante quem (TAQ) for human occupation at 23,790 BP. We present the results of an attempt to systematically integrate and compare data from Liang Abu and Kimanis, a geographically close site with a previously published sequence. Particular attention is paid to post-depositional issues in tropical settings and to data compatibility, reuse, and reproducibility, relying on open-source software for data processing (R scripts) and Bayesian chronological modeling. Two Bayesian models are built and compared using the ChronoModel software, which can handle outliers and uncertainty (e.g., freshwater reservoir effect). This first inter-site comparison for Borneo results in a new chronology of human settlement and mainland–coastal interactions in East Borneo and paves the way for future regional synthesis.

New publication: methodological advances from Liang Abu pottery refitting data

S. Plutniak recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science a methodological paper about archaeological refitting, entitled “The Strength of Parthood Ties. Modelling Spatial Units and Fragmented Objects with the TSAR Method – Topological Study of Archaeological Refitting”. This research was developped from stratigraphic issues we faced at Liang Abu during the 2012 excavations. The paper can be downloaded:


  • Plutniak, Sébastien. 2021. “The strength of parthood ties. Modelling spatial units and fragmented objects with the TSAR method -Topological Study of Archaeological Refitting”. Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 136, p. 105501. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105501, hal-03419952.
Continuer la lecture de « New publication: methodological advances from Liang Abu pottery refitting data »

The “Early Photography in Borneo” a panel at the 2021 EuroSEAS conference

The 2021 conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) was held in Olomuc, Czech Republic, from the 7th to the 10th September.

The panel “Between Heritage and Colonial Representations: Early Photography in Borneo”, organised by Antonio Guerreiro, included four presentations related to Borneo:

  • Antonio J. Guerreiro, “Charles Hose’s Borneo: A Pioneer photographer in Sarawak”
  • Rosalie C. Corpuz, “Early Photography in North Borneo – Sabah, Malaysia”
  • Bernard Sellato, “Jean Demmeni (1866-1939), a great photographer for two famous Borneo explorers”
  • Nicolas Césard & Bernard Sellato, “Expeditions and photography in Kalimantan. Combining historical and morphological approaches to reconstruct Dutch military excursions in the Interior of Borneo”

Panel abstract

Charles Hose

The panel will showcase the salient aspects of early photography in Borneo, in the former British (Sarawak, Sabah), and Dutch colonial areas (Kalimantan), c. 1870s – 1920s. A first step will be identifying the individuals active in the field and their practice of photography. Charles Hose (1863-1929) as a cadet, then Resident, was the most notable administrative
officer in the Brooke Raj who was involved in pioneering ethnographic studies and photography. Between 1884 and 1907, he was posted in out-stations, in the Baram and the Rejang. The panel will outline the different uses of photography and more generally, illustration, in Charles Hose’s main publications, including the style of the captions. The relation between photography and ethnographic and natural history collecting, will be stressed. Besides cultural heritage (tangible, i.e material culture, and its intangible dimensions), the exotic as expressed in landscapes, animal life and portraits, features prominently in the images from this period. Dayak/Punan/Penan/Murut indigenous peoples and fauna and flora have been the most popular subjects of photographers. A mapping of the categories of representations in order to focus on the colonial gaze in Borneo will be provided. The panel will address as well the historical context at the time: the colonial presence and ‘ethnographic expeditions’ taking place in central Borneo, a region spread between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia (known then as ‘Dutch Borneo’). Another famous photographer, Jean Demmeni (1866-1939), participated in A. W. Nieuwenhuis’ three expeditions taking place across West and East Borneo, between 1896 and 1900. Hose intensively practiced photography during his postings in the Baram and the Rejang areas (circa 1895 – 1907,1920). Besides Charles Hose and Jean Demmeni, other photographers were active in Borneo during this period (inter alia Evans, Funk, Furness, Grubauer, Haddon, Harrisson-Smith, Martin and Osa Johnson, Mjöberg, Tillema, Woolley). Besides so-called ‘scientific photography’, used to support academic texts and explorations, another photographic type which has been overlooked, i.e. postcards with exotic and romantic connotations, will be considered. In short, early photography besides engravings or drawings – actually the former often made after photographs – had a significant role in the shaping of Borneo’s ‘culturescape’ during the 20th century.

Transmission of shamanic knowledge among the Lebbo’ people: a poster by Antonio Guerreiro

Last december, the “Maison Asie-Pacifique”, a research centre located in Marseille, France, organised an exhibition entitled “Asie-Pacifique: itinéraires de recherche” for its 20th anniversary.

Antonio Guerreiro participated to this exhibition with a poster about the transmission of shamanic knowledge among the Lebbo’ people. The Lebbo’ people live in the Sankulirang karstic area, including in Merabu village, where we settled during our survey and excavation at the Liang Abu rock-shelter. In 2014, we recorded a video of Pak Kuling, telling the story of Belian Danyam to a young audience in Merabu.

Belian Danyam, literally “the young shaman” is the cultural hero of the Lebbo’. The memory of this hero has been kept alive until today among the villagers

From Borneo to New Guinea: Field research in East Kalimantan are finish, publishing continues, and new fieldwork starts in Papua New Guinea

From 2011 to 2016, the MAFBO (French Archaeological Project in Borneo) project has investigated the chronology of human occupation and its technological development in East Kalimantan since the Late Pleistocene/early Holocene. This project was in strong collaboration with several Indonesian institutions (National Centre for Archaeology, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology), which led to 28 scientific publications, 49 conferences, and more than 50 events to the general public. During this time the project expanded its initial focus and problematic to exploring the population movements and histories from and to Indonesia across the Indian Ocean and Pacific region.
The new scientific and cooperation developed by MAFBO, led the project and its team to shift its focus to another region nearby: the New Guinea island, and specifically the territory which corresponds to actual Papua New Guinea.
For this reason, our fieldwork research in Borneo stops and new ones started in Papua New Guinea. However, despite this shift toward east, our publication work about Borneo is still ongoing and the publication of this blog will be maintained with a focus on research news on Borneo archaeology. Continuer la lecture de « From Borneo to New Guinea: Field research in East Kalimantan are finish, publishing continues, and new fieldwork starts in Papua New Guinea »

New publications: Quaternary International issue about Southeast Asia Prehistory


The proceedings of the “Southeast Asia: Human Evolution, Dispersals and Adaptation” session held in 2014 in Burgos (IUSPP Conference) have been published in a special issue of Quaternary International.

MAFBO’s team members offered two contributions, concerning respectively lithic and pottery materials: Continuer la lecture de « New publications: Quaternary International issue about Southeast Asia Prehistory »

Conference: “Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst Range of East Kalimantan (Indonesia): Policies and Conservation Efforts”

“Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst Range of East Kalimantan (Indonesia): Policies and Conservation Efforts”

« Le patrimoine culturel et naturel dans le massif karstique de Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat. Stratégies de conservation et politiques patrimoniales »

Click to download the flyer

Conférence de Antonio Guerrreiro à l’auditorium de l’Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI) à Jakarta, le 1er juin 2016, de 17h30 à 19h. Continuer la lecture de « Conference: “Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst Range of East Kalimantan (Indonesia): Policies and Conservation Efforts” »

Pradiptajati Kusuma

Participation: 2014-

Pradiptajati Kusuma
Pradiptajati Kusuma

Pradiptajati Kusuma, often called Pai, is a population geneticist and he is a research assistant in Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology,  Jakarta. Pai works on various ethnic populations in Indonesia in respect to molecular anthropology and human evolution studies. He focuses on utilizing genomic data to understand how human demography, migration, and dispersal of language and diseases, shape genetic diversity in populations across the archipelago.

He is now working on Borneo populations, tracing the source of historical human migration through Indian Ocean that settled Madagascar. He is currently enrolled in doctoral program at Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Moléculaire et Imagerie de Synthèse, Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse III, France, under direct supervision of Dr. François-Xavier Ricaut.

Pradiptajati Kusuma, ou Pai, est généticien des populations et assistant de recherche au Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, à Jakarta. Dans les perspectives de l’anthropologie moléculaire et des études de l’évolution humaine, Pai étudie diverses populations ethniques en Indonésie. À partir des données génétiques, il cherche à éclairer la manière dont démographie humaine, les migrations, la diffusion des langues et des maladies, déterminent la diversité génétique dans l’archipel indonésien.

Il s’intéresse actuellement aux populations de Bornéo, cherchant à retracer les flux migratoires, traversant l’Océan Indien, qui constituèrent la population de Madagascar. Il poursuit ce travail en tant que doctorant au Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Moléculaire et Imagerie de Synthèse, Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse III, France, sous la direction de François-Xavier Ricaut.

Publication: Césard, Guerreiro & Soriente, Petualangan Unjung dan Mbui Kuvong

Book cover (click to download the full cover)
Book cover (click to download the full cover)

MAFBO’s member Antonio Guerreiro co-authored with Nicolas Césard and Antonia Soriente a book entitled Petualangan Unjung dan Mbui Kuvong: Sastra Lisan dan Kamus Punan Tuvu’ dari Kalimantan (The Adventurous Unjung and The Tale of Mbui Kuvong. Oral Literature and Punan Tuvu’-Indonesian Dictionary from Kalimantan).

Antonio Guerreiro (membre de la MAFBO) et ses co-auteurs Nicolas Césard et Antonia Soriente, ont récemment publié un livre intitulé Petualangan Unjung dan Mbui Kuvong: Sastra Lisan dan Kamus Punan Tuvu’ dari Kalimantan (Unjung l’aventureuse et le conte de Kuvong. Littérature orale et dictionnaire Punan Tuvu’ – Indonésien de Kalimantan).


Sembilan kisah yang menjadi bagian dari buku Petualangan Unjung dan Mbui Kuvong, memberikan suatu ringkasan tentang kekayaan sastra lisan suku Punan Tuvu’ dari Kalimantan Utara.
Seringkali penuh dengan kiasan, kisah-kisah yang disebut mbui ini tergolong dongeng, legenda, dan mitos, yang dimiliki suku Punan Tuvu’ dan diwariskan dari generasi ke generasi sejak dahulu kala.
 Mbui membicarakan tokoh-tokoh atau tempat-tempat yang merupakan bagian dari kebudayaan Punan. Dengan adanya keprihatinan bahwa bahasa Punan Tuvu’, sebagaimana terjadi di tempat lain di indonesia dan di dunia, akan punah berikut semua pengetahuan, nilai, kearifan lokal yang dikandungnya, maka buku ini merupakan usaha untuk mengumpulkan, merekam dan menulis kembali cerita-cerita tersebut sebagai usaha dokumentasi bahasa dan budaya.
Dongeng dan mitos Punan menceritakan kepada kita tentang sebuah masa ketika manusia, tumbuhan, dan hewan hidup erat berdekatan satu dengan yang lain, suatu masa yang tidak terlalu lampau ketika suku Punan yang masih mengembara mendiami hutan lebat di bagian hulu sungai di Kalimantan sebelum kemudian tinggal di tepi sungai besar.
Kisah-kisah itu menggambarkan dan terinspirasi dari kehidupan sehari-hari yang mulai ditinggalkan sedikit demi sedikit oleh para keluarga Punan dari Sungai Tubu dan Malinau, karena mereka mulai menetap, kemudian hidup lebih ke bagian hilir dan menjauhi hutan serta isinya.
Kisah-kisah itu juga mengingatkan akan masa lampau yang saat ini diidamkan oleh mereka yang pernah mengenalnya. masa lampau yang aturannya ditaati, dan juga tempat para anggota kelompok bertemu di malam hari untuk berbagi kisah petualangan mereka dan petualangan para leluhur mereka

Buku ini ditujukan terutama kepada generasi muda Punan, yang secara tradisional merupakan tujuan kisah-kisah tersebut, dan juga kepada mereka yang lebih tua yang mungkin mencoba mencari tahu kembali dengan membaca kisah itu dan dengan membandingkannya dengan versi terjemahannya dalam bahasa indonesia




National Geographic news article on the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat karst / Article dans le National Geographic sur le karst de Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat

Vue du karst
Vue du karst

In a recent paper entitled “A Race to Save Ancient Human Secrets in Borneo”, the National Geographic highlights the importance of protecting the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat karst biodiversity and, historical and cultural heritage. It hopes that efforts of archaeologists (MAFBO), biologists and conservation agencies will help this region of eastern Borneo to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dans un article récemment publié, intitulé « A Race to Save Ancient Human Secrets in Borneo », le National Geographic réaffirme l’importance de protéger la biodiversité et le patrimoine culturel et historique du karst de Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat, où opère notre projet franco-indonésien MAFBO. Il insiste sur les efforts conjoints des archéologues, des biologistes et des organisations pour la conservation, pour permettre de classer au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO cette région de l’est de Bornéo.

Exposition sur la préhistoire / Prehistory Exhibition (Balikpapan)

Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto
Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto

Prehistory Exhibition at the Balikpapan Plaza

An archaeological exhibition took place from the 29 th July until the 3rd August at the Balikpapan Plaza, the main shopping center in Balikpapan, the economic capital of the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. The theme of this exhibition was “From prehistory to the first empires in East Kalimantan”. The exhibition was organized by the Regional Office for Archaeology in all Kalimantan provinces (Balai Arkeologi Banjar Baru, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan), in collaboration with the MAFBO project. It was a huge success, beyond the expectations of the organisors. Balai Arkeologi has good experience in the organization of this kind of event – events installed in places visited by a large public, beyond museums. Shopping centers are the best places to reach a large audience and to inform them about archaeology and its importance. The exhibition displayed archaeological artefacts, photography and six educational posters designed by the MAFBO project on the prehistory in East Kalimantan.

Exposition sur la préhistoire au Balikpapan Plaza

Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto
Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto

Du 29 juillet au 3 août 2015 s’est tenue une exposition archéologique au Balikpapan Plaza (un centre commercial situé à Balikpapan, province indonésienne de Kalimantan est). Elle avait pour thème « De la préhistoire aux premiers empires dans l’est de Kalimantan ». Cette exposition a été organisée par le service de l’archéologie de Banjarmasin (Balai Arkeologi Banjar Baru, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan sud), en collaboration avec le projet MAFBO. Elle a connu un succès appréciable, le nombre de visiteurs ayant comblé les espérances des organisateurs. Le Balai Arkeologi possède déjà une certaine expérience dans l’organisation de ce type d’exposition, installées dans des lieux fréquentés par un public large : au-delà des musées, c’est effectivement dans les centres commerciaux qu’il est poss ible, plus encore, de sensibiliser le public aux travaux archéologiques et à leur importance. L’exposition présentait des objets archéologiques, des photographies et les six posters éducatifs réalisés par la mission MAFBO sur la préhistoire dans l’est Kalimantan.

Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto
Photo courtesy of Bambang Sugiyanto

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