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Paleoanthropology in Java, Indonesia

Andrew Kramer

river in JarkartaDuring the summer of 1999, our project conducted paleoanthropological, archaeological and geological fieldwork at two sites in the Rancah District of West Java, Indonesia. This work is generously supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation. Preliminary surveys and excavations funded by the Graduate School of the University of Tennessee, were undertaken nearby during June of 1997. Our project has recovered numerous large mammal fossils similar to those found at the famous, Early Pleistocene, fossil hominid site of Sangiran in Central Java. The island of Java, however, emerged from the sea from west to east, requiring mammals (including hominids) to migrate through western Java to reach its central and eastern portions. This fact has encouraged us regarding the potential of our fieldwork to recover the first West Javan and possibly the most ancient Southeast Asian hominids yet found. Important questions can be addressed by this research, including:

Who were, and when did, the first hominids migrate to southeastern Asia?
What were their behavioral capabilities?
What climates, habitats and animals did they encounter?

In addition to its scientific value, this project continues to reinforce and expand professional relationships between geologists, archaeologists and paleoanthropologists in Indonesia and the United States.