The Meaning Behind the Stone: A Perspective on Megalithic Culture and Traditions in the Indonesian Archipelago

Erwin Mansyur Ugu Saraka1, Akin Duli1, Muh Nur1, Supriadi2, Hasanuddin3

1Department of Archaeology, Hasanuddin University, Indonesia

2Association of Indonesian Archaeologist (IAAI), Eastern Indonesian Region, Indonesia

3Archaeological Research Centre, National Research, and Innovation Agency (BRIN) for Historical and Prehistoric Studies, Indonesia

Indonesia possesses a diversity of megalithic cultural heritage scattered throughout the archipelago. Relics of megalithic cultures can be found either in the form of ancient monuments or objects that went out of use a long time ago, or that are still in contemporary use, and construction continues to this day. The purpose of this research is to identify and record community perspectives on the meaning and function of megalithic heritage and traditions that currently exist for both those monuments and heritage that have been abandoned, and those that are still functional today. The project consists of library data collection, surveys to collect field data by conducting direct observations, and interviews from those individuals that have a direct relationship with megalithic heritage. The data is analysed and interpreted using a qualitative approach. The results indicate that megaliths constructed of stone in Indonesia are primarily designed for worshiping ancestors, as objects reinforcing social status and embedding legitimacy of power and togetherness in society. Functionally, some megalithic buildings are still functioning with the same embedded ideology they had in the past, some have the same meaning but there have been changes in function, and some have been abandoned, and no longer have the significance and meaning they once held.