Stone Archives and Fortified Histories in Timor-Leste

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    This paper explores the multiple ways that local records of the past are inscribed in the landscape through a variety of megalithic structures and stone objects. As archives of past habitation and sociality, stone is the most enduring structural form in the dynamic tropical environments of Timor-Leste. Largely for that reason, it has long been utilised as a building material of choice in the construction of defensive fortifications. But over time these structures also accrete layers of site-specific meanings and significance as repositories of past events. They may form material traces of mythic group identity, be viewed as places of religious veneration, as boundary markers of political jurisdictions, and as structures of memorialisation for familial ancestors. In these and other ways, megalithic structures—large and small—constitute spatial and material archives of the past and serve as reference points for local assertions of claim, narrative histories and spiritual protections in the present. The paper draws on examples from Fataluku culture in Timor Leste to illustrate the rich possibilities of the emplaced past and its cultural trajectories.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)247-260
    JournalThe Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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