Fri, 05 Dec 2003

Elephant fossils found in Tangerang hamlet

Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang

Fossils, most likely those of a giant elephant, were discovered buried six meters under the ground by a sand miner recently, in Balencong hamlet, Ketapang village, Mauk district in Tangerang regency.

Tangerang regency Tourism and Culture Agency chief, Muhyi Syarifudin, said on Thursday that the discovery had been reported to the agency, which later sent officials to survey the site.

"We concluded that this giant elephant, a migrant elephas maximus from Sumatra, had lived in the area thousands of years ago," he said. Such elephants grew to 15 meters in length.

The agency will start excavating the bones in early January.

Muhyi said that the agency had also consulted the National Archeology Center in Jakarta. The center has confirmed that the bones are most likely those of the elephas maximum.

According to Muhyi, the fossils were the third major find in the country, following finds in Trowulan, East Java, and in Sumatra.

Several years ago, more than a dozen ancient Chinese ceramic pieces were discovered at the same location, when Tangerang regency was still a part of West Java province.

"Those findings indicated that some 5,000 years earlier, human beings inhabited this area, along the banks of the Cisadane river," Muhyi said.

The agency plans to propose to the Tangerang regency administration that a museum be built to exhibit the bones, which are believed to of high historic value.

The agency has recorded a total of 812 artifacts found in Tangerang. These consist of 33 ethnographic findings, 158 archeological findings, 601 numismatic findings and 19 findings, which were mostly ceramics. They are all now stored in the Sri Baduga Museum in Bandung.