“Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst Range: Policies and Conservation Efforts” (@15th EurASEAA)

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

Antonio J. Guerreiro (IrAsia, CNRS-Aix-Marseille-University, UMR 7306, Marseille)

The paper considers current issues (environmental, socio-economic and cultural) in connection to the conservation of archaeological sites located in the Sankulirang-Mangkalihat Karstic range. The local administrations of East Kutai and Berau Regencies and that of the Province of East Kalimantan in charge of conservation, have been directly involved in the management of few sites. They are preparing for the listing of the Karst area in Unesco’s World Heritage Tentative List. Until now archaeological and anthropological research in the area has been supervised by the National Center of Archaeological Research (Pusat Arkeologi Nasional) based in Jakarta and its branch office in Banjarmasin (Balai Arkeologi). While the French-Indonesian Collaborative Research Programme has been active since 2011, but only a small percentage of the sites surveyed has been studied. The Lebbo’/Basap indigenous people who have been living for centuries (or more ?) in contact to the archaeological sites and the nearby caves, have not been involved officially in conservation or trained for these activities. However, the practice of ‘indigenous conservation’ which can be developed with benefits, remains to be implemented. Presently the local governements of the Regencies of East Kutai and Berau are increasingly concerned with the protection of the sites and of their touristic potential. On the other hand the infrastructures (roads, accommodations, museums…) are not ready yet to cater for an increase of visitors. The protection of the sites, mostly rock art in caves and rock shelters, should be evaluated accordingly.

“Late Pleistocene-Holocene Lithic Industries from Mangkalihat karstic area” (@15th EurASEAA)

Late Pleistocene-Holocene Lithic Industries from Mangkalihat karstic area, East Kalimantan (Eastern Borneo, Indonesia)

Grenet Michel (1), Fauzi Ruly (2,3), Sarel Josette (4), Oktaviana Adhi Agus (2), Ricaut François-X (5)

  1. CNRS, UMR5608 Laboratoire TRACES, France
  2. National Research Center for Archaeology, Jakarta, Indonesia;
  3. Center for Prehistory and Austronesian Studies, Indonesia;
  4. CNRS, UMR 7041, ArScAn, Université de Paris X, France, INRAP
  5. CNRS UMR 5288, Laboratoire AMIS, Université de Toulouse, France

Lack of data and studies on lithic remains from Kalimantan (Borneo) result in a limited understanding of human prehistory in this region. Current collaborative research by a French-Indonesian team is trying to reduce this lack of data by conducting field research and a multidisciplinary scientific project in the karstic region of Mangkalihat (East Kalimantan, Indonesia). A series of analyses related to typo-technological studies on the lithic materials from this project have brought new data and consecutive developments for a better understanding of the prehistory of Kalimantan in the regional context.

This paper will present and discuss some data from Liang Jon (2007-2008); Liang Abu (2009-2012); and Liang Pemalawan (2013). Our observations on the type of raw materials and knapping technics used, show some distinctive characteristics among these sites. However, homogeneityfrom a typo-technological point of view tend to appear in long chronological periods within this region. Hence, the lithic industry in Kalimantan seems to have some similar features (ie. homogeneity in long chronology) with several Indonesian prehistoric sites from the Late Pleistocene and Holocene periods.


“Comparing differences and convergences in some ISEA’s rock art” (@15th EurASEAA)

Comparing differences and convergences in some ISEA’s rock art

Jean-Michel Chazine

As more and more research programs on Rock Art and its corresponding prehistoric anthropology are conducted throughout I SEA, the author has had the opportunity to observe and thus compare some Rock Art sites from Kalimantan/Borneo and those of Misool’s island (Rajah Ampat District/West Papua) area. Their common rough karstic environment being similar, they are nevertheless totally opposed, the first located far inside the inland rain forest, while the second is embedded in a marine/lacustre space. It is nevertheless interesting to try to compare on a structuralist approach on what their supposed differences would be built and if actually, they would not display the same answer to the same problems or universal questions, from Pleistocene to mid-holocene periods. The common, if not almost universal presence of stencilled hands on cliffs or caves panels besides representations of local fauna being thus possibly one of the linking bind.

A Lebbo Shaman Tale

We present here an ethnographic video document in which Pak Kuling explains the Lebbo’ myth of Belian Danyam. A summary of the myth can be read under the video, in English and in French.

Nous présentons sur cette page un document ethnographique vidéo dans lequel Pak Kuling raconte le mythe Lebbo’ de Belian Danyam. Un résumé textuel du mythe est disponible sous la vidéo, en anglais et en français.



A Lebbo’ Shaman’s Tale: A Summary.

In the first part of the interview Pak Kuling – a Lebbo’ shaman from the village of Pana’an (aged about 50) –, tells the feats of Belian Danyam. Belian Danyam, lit. “The Young Shaman” is the culture hero of the Lebbo’ in the Lesan River. Among the villagers the hero’s legacy remains alive up to this day. Several important aspects of this narrative could be stressed. Generally, it is focussed on the idea of territorial origins and shamanic powers. Belian Danyam was miraculously born as a shaman among the humans on earth, however who his parents were is not known. As a child he was ready to practice the ritual, he did not learn with an elder shaman as it is usually the case. During his travels and adventures in the Karst region, the hero expelled the evil spirits from earth, thus making it a suitable place for humans to live. Because he was jalous of his eight wifes’ behaviour, he transgressed the taboo of mocking of animals, then he had to cope with the anger of the powerful Thunder-God, Meruaa Laut, the protector of the adat. Eventually, in his flight the hero vanished in a mountain named Batu Lujep located at the boundary of the upper Lesan and Tabalar Rivers’ areas. After his disappearance in the rock, following the flow of an underground river, his seven successors known by their titles, continued to perform the shamanic tradition (adat belian). Furthermore, it is Belian Danyam’s eight wifes who have made the stencils of negative hands and other marks in the caves as a sign of “being there” and taking possession of the place. The hero produced thus a social space rooted in the remote Karstic region. Perhaps, this feature can be related to the holistic character of the Lebbo’ ritual representations, involving the forested landscape and plentiful natural resources. A feature which is also prevalent in the tale is the notion of bounded territories which are ascribed to Lebbo’ local groups. Spatial boundaries are well known : they relate directly to the natural ressources’ exploitation in the local group’s territory.  

In the second part of the interview, Pak Kuling, describes ritual ideas and practices at the core of Lebbo’ shamanism, i.e. the Tuak Harvest Festival and the Nobèt curative/purification rites.

Antonio Guerreiro


Film : le récit d’un chamane lebbo’ : un résumé

Dans la première partie de l’interview Pak Kuling, un chamane Lebbo’ du village de Pana’an (âgé d’environ 50 ans)‚ raconte les exploits de Belian Danyam. Belian Danyam, littéralement « le jeune chamane », est le héros culturel des Lebbo’ de la rivière Lesan. La mémoire de ce héros est restée vivante jusqu’aujourd’hui parmi les villageois. De nombreux aspects importants du récit peuvent être soulignés. En général, il tourne autour des idées d’origines territoriales et de pouvoirs chamaniques. Belian Danyam est miraculeusement né chamane parmi les hommes sur Terre, sans que l’on sache qui étaient ses parents. Enfant, il commence à pratiquer les rites sans avoir appris auprès d’un ancien chamane, comme c’est habituellement le cas. Au cours de ses voyages et aventures dans la région karstique, le héros expulsa les mauvais esprits de la Terre afin d’en faire un lieu propice à la vie humaine. Parce qu’il était jaloux du comportement de ses huit femmes, il transgressa le tabou interdisant de se moquer des animaux et fit alors l’objet de la colère de Meruaa Laut, le puissant Dieu-Tonerre, protecteur de l’adat. Dans sa fuite, le héros disparu finalement dans une montagne appelée Batu Lujep, située à la limite entre les bassin-versants des rivières Lesan et Tabalar. Suite à sa disparition dans la roche qui s’ouvrit, il fut emporté par le cours d’une rivière souterraine, mais les Lebbo’ pensent qu’il n’est pas mort. Ses sept successeurs, connus par leurs titres (noms chamaniques), continuèrent d’entretenir la tradition chamanique (adat belian). De plus, ce furent les huit femmes de Belian Danyam qui réalisèrent les motifs de mains négatives et les autres marques dans les grottes comme signe de « présence » et de prise de possession des lieux. Le héros contribua ainsi à constituer un espace social enraciné dans cette région karstique reculée (les Lebbo’ en sont les seuls habitants autochtones). Cette caractéristique peut être rapprochée du caractère holistique des représentations rituelles lebbo’, qui englobent les paysages forestiers riches en ressources naturelles. L’idée d’un territoire borné et assigné aux groupes lebbo’ locaux est un autre aspect saillant du récit. Les frontières spatiales sont bien connues : elles sont immédiatement relatives à l’exploitation des ressources naturelles dans les territoires des groupes locaux. 

Dans la seconde partie de l’entretien, Pak Kuling décrit des pratiques rituelles et des idées au cœur du chamanisme lebbo’, comme le festival de la récolte du padi, le Tuak ou le Nobèt, un rite curatif ou de purification.

Antonio Guerreiro

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