By S. Kramer
Located 15 km north of Solo in central Java, Indonesia, Sangiran archaeological excavation site covers an area of 5600 hectares. It was declared as the Unesco World Heritage: Sangiran Early Man site in 1996. It is a key site for hominid studies where more than 100 hominid fossils from around 1.5 million years ago had been unearthed. This totals about half of all known hominid fossils in the world. The importance of this site is that it provides an archaeological record of physical and cultural hominid evolution in its environment.
In search for the missing link of human evolution, Eugene Dubois discovered the remains of a hominid called Pithecanthropus erectus in 1891. This species is also called the Java man. The excavation was continued by G.H.R Von Koenigswald, a German paleo-anthropologist, in 1930 assisted by the locals. Following the discovery of animal fossils in 1930, a jawbone of Meganthropus Paleojavanicus was discovered in 1936 followed by the discovery of the Pithecanthropus Erectus skull in 1960. The species collection from the site include Meganthropus paleojavanicus (Von Koenigswald 1936), Pithecanthropus Mojokertensis (1936), Pithecanthropus Erectus, and Pithecanthropus Soloensis (1969). The skull of Pithecanthropus indicated a brain size about two times bigger than a chimpanzee’s and two third the size of modern human brain.
Referred as the bones of the giants by the locals, the legend of the village told a story of a young man with supernatural power named Bandung of Sangiran defended the village from the attacks of a group of giants.
Management of the area is divided into 4 sites. Krikilan is the visitor center, Ngebung was the site of the original discovery, Bukuran is the site of the hominid evolution, and Dayu as the site of current research. At least two days are needed to visit all the four areas.