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Forest Of Broken Urns
Archaeology Magazine ^ | 4-6-2007 | Karen J Coates

Posted on 04/06/2007 2:37:36 PM PDT by blam

Forest of Broken Urns

Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2007
by Karen J. Coates

Borneo's unexplored past is dying by the chainsaw.

Tony Paran sits near a jar that held the remains of one of his ancestors. Soon, the forests that shelter these jars will be logged. (Jerry Redfern)

Walter Paran was a lucky boy. Three minutes out his front door lay an old grave in the forest marked by big stone slabs, a broken jar, and human bones. A few minutes another way was a pit where the riches of the dead were purportedly buried. What more could an inquisitive kid want?

More than a dozen burial jars sit in this clearing in Borneo's Kelabit Highlands. (Jerry Redfern)

Back then, in the 1970s, Paran didn't know much about archaeology. He had heard that the burial site, Batu Ritong, held the remains of a prominent ancestor. He and his friends cautiously explored the forest around the stone-slab enclosures and large ceramic jars. "We were afraid when we came here." Superstition mixed with curiosity.

Paran grew up in the Kelabit Highlands of Malaysia's Sarawak state. For centuries, the Kelabit people have lived deep in Borneo's upland jungles, practicing animism and headhunting until missionaries converted them to Christianity after World War II. Before then, the Kelabits erected megalithic monuments such as Batu Ritong. They also built separate memorials where the deceased's belongings were buried. Paran took us to such a place on the other side of his village. It consists of a couple of big stone slabs propped on boulders, covering dozens of small stones and an ancestor's belongings in the ground. Villagers do not dig up the valuables, Paran says, "otherwise your life is not nice."

Paran worries about these sites. Much of the Kelabit Highlands is slated for logging, and Paran fears Kelabit relics and features will perish by axes and bulldozers before archaeologists can study them.

"As yet, no proper archaeological work has been done in the Kelabit Highlands," says Monica Janowski, a University of Greenwich, England, anthropologist. She is part of a research team that will map and investigate highlands archaeology, and trace the relationship between people and the environment through time.

Karen J. Coates is a freelance writer based in Cambodia.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: borneo; broken; forest; godsgravesglyphs; history; laos; plainofjars; urns

1 posted on 04/06/2007 2:37:38 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv; JimSEA
GGG Ping.

I'm reminded of the Plain Of Jars In Laos.

Location of Plain of Jars and Xieng Khouang plain (blue shading).

2 posted on 04/06/2007 2:43:51 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Have you ever heard of “the plain of jars”? I think it’s in Thailand. It sounds like a similar thing.

3 posted on 04/06/2007 2:44:01 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Peace without victory is a temporary illusion.)
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To: blam; Constitutionalist Conservative; Gator113; Zhang Fei; DanielLongo; Tamar1973; Dr. Marten; ...
Asia pinglist.
4 posted on 04/06/2007 2:44:56 PM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: blam

I guess you have. LOL

5 posted on 04/06/2007 2:45:54 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Peace without victory is a temporary illusion.)
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To: blam
Simple solution:

Get some Lilly white, college anthropology major, unpaid intern kids to document/recover the remains.

They really love that stuff.

The more PC they are, the more they believe that, as scientists, they're justified to mess with anybody's "final resting place". Even when the cultures they supposedly revere don't want them to do it.

"Screw 'em, we're highly educated white scientists" is their motto.
/wasted 10 years of my life in "Cultural Resources Management".

6 posted on 04/06/2007 3:39:44 PM PDT by Tinian
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To: blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...
Thanks Blam. This story was a bit jarring. [rimshot!] I'm just glad the gov't there didn't manage to keep the lid on it. [hoo-ha!]

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

7 posted on 04/06/2007 6:07:19 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Monday, April 2, 2007.
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To: Tinian
A lily-white anthro student who is 'PC' as opposed to....what?... a bunch of pot-bellied "arry-head" seeking grave-robbers, who'd just as soon sweep out all the bones and leave them to the wild animals so they can have the pretty little jar to sell on the black market? Or the Muslims who finally come in to claim the area as their own and destroy anything that reminds people of a culture that was there before?

How do YOU tend your dead?

8 posted on 04/08/2007 12:12:42 PM PDT by Alkhin (star dust contemplating star dust)
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· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·

9 posted on 12/07/2008 12:53:53 PM PST by SunkenCiv ( finally updated Saturday, December 6, 2008 !!!)
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