Sangiran: Museum of Ancient Java Man

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Have you ever wondered what folks seemed like millions of years ago? From Solo, take a trip back in time and make the journey to Sangiran, house of the ancient Java man.

The story of Java Man begins more than a century ago. In 1890, a Dutch military doctor and paleontologist Eugene Dubois found a fossilized primate jawbone in Trinil further east down the river. The jawbone possessed distinctive human characteristics. Thus, Dubois was convinced that this was Darwin’s “missing link” in the theory of human evolution but lacked the evidence to prove his theory.

Almost 50 decades later, Berlin-born paleontologist GHR von Koenigswald, found a fossilized ‘coffee man’ or homo erectus jawbone in Sangiran. This was a considerably old fossil, dating back over a million years or more. Dubois was suitable. Java guy was the proof he had wanted that homo erectus existed in Java around as ancient as in Africa.

Today, scientists recognize that homo erectus, that inhabited the earth between 1.7 million to 250,000 years ago, would be the direct ancestors of homo sapiens (modern human beings).

It is believed that Java man probably made his home in caves or in open decks and it is very likely that he was the first human that used fire. He also used stools such as stone axes and hand-adzes, most of which were discovered by the Baksoka River near Pacitan.

The Sangiran region is full of fossils of all sorts. Together with Indonesia’s temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, Sangiran is recorded by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. At Sangiran museum, you can follow the history of Java man and the story of the discovery in the little Sangiran Museum. This very simple museum is located some 15 km north of the town of Solo (Surakarta). At the museum, find out about how prehistoric men might have lived millennia past. The fossil shells and animal bones are available here range between 1.2 million and 500,000 years of age. Also on display is an enormous 4-meter tusk in the stegodon, which is anticipated to have measured 11 meters from head to tail!

In the Sangiran museum, you can see replicas of the first Java man fossils.

Approximately 5 km west of the memorial stands a three-story viewing tower at which you can see around the Sangiran valley.

The highlight of your journey is going to be a trip to the 48 square kilometers archaeological site. Located by the Bengawan Solo river at the foot of Mt. Lawu, this site is rich in ancient fossils, which frequently lie exposed in the areas after heavy storms. For anybody having an interest in archeology, this is a rare chance to see such ancient fossils.