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Sangiran (Java)


Definition: The Sangiran cave site, located on the island of Java, is a Homo erectus dated btween 1.6 and 1 million years ago. Over fifty fossils have been recovered Sangiran Cave, including Pithecanthropus erectus and Homo erectus. Fossils representing about a dozen H. erectus have been recovered.

Excavations at Sangiran revealed animal bones with cut marks, but no stone tools, leading some researchers to suggest that shell tools were used by H. erectus to butcher the animals. Experimental data tends to support these suppositions. If so, this may be a characteristic of H. erectus behavior that scientists have missed in the past.

Sangiran cave was excavated by R.G.H. von Koenigswald in 1936-1941, and later by S. Sartono and T. Jacob. The most recent studies have been joint Indonesia and Japanese studies led by Kildo Choi and Dubel Driwantoro.


Choi, Kildo and Dubel Driwantoro 2007 Shell tool use by early members of Homo erectus in Sangiran, central Java, Indonesia: cut mark evidence. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:48-58.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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