Copper-base Metallurgy in Metal-Age Bali: Evidence from Gilimanuk, Manikliyu, Pacung, Pangkung Paruk and Sembiran

Thomas Oliver Pryce, Ambra Calo, B Prasetyo, Peter Bellwood, Susan O'Connor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The Indonesian Archipelago extends over 5000 km of latitude, from 95�E to 141�E, and hosts some of the world's largest active metal mines. While some fascinating ethnographic and historical sources exist, virtually nothing is known of the country's prehistoric metallurgical traditions. Given Indonesia's scale, this situation cannot be remedied in short order, but with this paper we seek to elucidate some metal production and consumption behaviours on Bali, located around 115�E, during the last centuries of the first millennium bc and the early to middle first millennium ad. The studied early Metal Age assemblage of 27 copper-base artefacts from the sites of Pacung, Sembiran, Bangkah, Pangkung Paruk, Gilimanuk and Manikliyu includes bangle, bowl, drum, hook, mirror and ornamental typologies, and fragments thereof. Fourteen of the 27 samples were suffering from corrosion, but a strong tendency towards leaded copper alloys (21 of 27) can be distinguished, with some bronzes, a high-tin bronze and a leaded high-tin bronze. The high proportion of leaded artefacts mean that lead isotope data cannot be used to identify possible sources of copper, but there is good consistency with Mainland South-East Asian Iron Age leaded alloy signatures for the bulk of the assemblage, possibly indicating the existence of long-range (~2000-3000 km one way) exchange systems at the outset of the Island South-East Asian Metal Age, and perhaps as far as China and India in the case of the mirror and bowl, respectively. Of particular note, the Manikliyu 'Pejeng' drum, a stylistically idiosyncratic type known from Bali and Java, and for which there is local production evidence, transpired to be consistent in terms of elemental composition and lead signature with Mainland 'Dong Son' drums. This could suggest that Pejeng drums were produced not just from metal imported from the Mainland but with melted down Mainland drums; an intriguing case of local reinterpretation of foreign elite material culture and iconography.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1271-1289
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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