Hunter-gatherers in labyrinth karst: An Early Holocene record from Gunung Sewu, Java

Hendri Kaharudin, Grizzly A.R. Ananda, Wastu H. Prasetya, Muhammad W. Wibisono, J.S.E. Yuwono

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    Gua Mandung is an inland prehistoric site in Gunung Sewu karst area of central Java, Indonesia. This area is rich in valleys and corridors which make up Gunung Sewu's distinct labyrinth-like landscape. For Java, Gunung Sewu is known to have a relatively harsh environment with limited access to permanent water sources and a short wet season. However, here we report evidence of occupation at the site of Gua Mandung since at least 11,073 cal BP. An abundance of terrestrial fauna remains alongside numerous bone tools with differing functionalities suggests that these early cave dwellers applied well-developed subsistence strategies to maximise the available resources. Gua Mandung records continuous exploitation of small to large terrestrial fauna including monkeys, porcupine, deer, pig, cattle, rat, snake, and monitor lizard. The site's proximity to nearby lakes and a ∼ 5 km walk to the coast also provided Gua Mandung's early inhabitants with secondary aquatic resources such as fish, freshwater shells, marine shells, barnacles, crab, and sea urchin. Based on our findings from the Gua Mandung excavation, and in comparison with surrounding archaeological sites, coastal resource exploitation appears to have been a common, albeit more minor, subsistence strategy employed by the early inland communities of the Gunung Sewu karst area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    JournalArchaeological Research in Asia
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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