Sangiran Early Man Site
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Replica of fossil from Sangiran ("Sangiran 17")
CriteriaCultural: iii, vi
Inscription1996 (20th Session)
Area5,600 ha
Coordinates7°27′S 110°50′E / 7.450°S 110.833°E / -7.450; 110.833
Sangiran is located in Indonesia
Location of Sangiran in Indonesia
Homo sapiens Ngrejeng (40 kya)

Sangiran is an archaeological excavation site in Java in Indonesia.[1] According to a UNESCO report (1995) "Sangiran is recognized by scientists to be one of the most important sites in the world for studying fossil man, ranking alongside Zhoukoudian (China), Willandra Lakes (Australia), Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), and Sterkfontein (South Africa), and more fruitful in finds than any of these."[2]

The area comprises about 56 km2 (7 km x 8 km). It is located in Central Java, about 15 kilometers north of Surakarta in the Solo River valley. Administratively, Sangiran area is divided between 2 regencies: Sragen (districts of Gemolong, Kalijambe, and Plupuh) and Karanganyar (district of Gondangrejo). An important feature of the site is the geology of the area. Originally a dome was created millions of years ago through tectonic uplifts. The dome was then eroded exposing beds within the dome which are rich in archeological records.[3]


Stegodon trigonocephalus - Molar

Over time, following the initial work by Dubois and von Koenigswald at Sangiran, other scholars including Indonesian archeologists undertook work at the site. Indonesian scholars included Teuku Jacob, Etty Indriati, Sartono, Fachroel Aziz, Harry Widianto, Yahdi Zaim, and Johan Arif.[6]

Sangiran museum

A modest museum existed at Sangiran for several decades before a modern, well-functioning museum and visitors' centre was opened in December 2011. The new building, a modern museum, contains three main halls with extensive displays and impressive dioramas of the Sangiran area as it was believed to be around 1 million years ago. Several other centres are under construction as well (early 2013) so that by 2014 it is expected that there will be four centres at different places within the overall Sangiran site. The four planned centres are:[7]

The current museum and visitors' centre has three main halls. The first hall contains several dioramas that provide information about the early humans and animals which existed at the Sangiran site around 1 million years ago. The second hall, which is more extensive, presents much detailed material about the wide variety of fossils found at Sangiran and about the history of exploration at the site. The third hall, in a separate impressive presentation, contains a large diorama which provides a sweeping view of the overall area of Sangiran, with volcanoes such as Mount Lawu in the background and humans and animals in the foreground, as it is imagined to have been around 1 million years ago. Several of the presentations in this third hall draw on the work of the internationally known paleontological sculptor Elisabeth Daynes.


Access to the Sangiran museum is gained by travelling around 15 km north from Surakarta along the main road towards the central Java town of Purwodadi. The turnoff to the museum, just past the small market town of Kalioso, leads along a sealed road that winds through a relatively poor rural area for around 4 km before reaching the final short entry road to the visitors centre to the right. Total travel time from Surakarta, depending on traffic conditions along the crowded Surakarta-Purwodadi road, is about 45-60 mins. There are frequent buses along the route from Surakarta to Purwodadi which will drop passengers off at the turnoff on request. Local informal motorcycle taxi drivers will ferry visitors along the remaining 4 km for a modest charge. The museum can be reached conveniently by Trans-Java Toll Road. (The museum is open from 8.00am to 4.00pm each day except for Mondays when the museum is closed.)

Social and other issues

Development of the overall Sangiran site has not been without controversy. Uncontrolled digging and illegal trade in fossils have occurred on various occasions since the site was first discovered. For a considerable period, villagers in the area frequently dug up and sold fossils to local buyers. Following the enactment of National Law No. 5 of 1992 on cultural heritage objects, there were stronger controls on these activities.[8] However, illegal activities have sometimes continued to occur in recent years.[9] In 2010, for example, an American citizen claiming to be a scientist was arrested near Sangiran while travelling in a truck containing 43 different types of fossils in boxes and sacks with an estimated market value of $2 million.[10]

More recently, there has been discussion in the Indonesian media about the way that the development of the Sangiran site has failed to bring any significant tangible benefits to the rural communities in the local area.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Choi, Kildo; Driwantoro, Dubel (2007). "Shell tool use by early members of Homo erectus in Sangiran, central Java, Indonesia: cut mark evidence". Journal of Archaeological Science. 34: 48. Bibcode:2007JArSc..34...48C. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2006.03.013.
  2. ^ World Heritage List note, Sangiran, No 593, September 1995.
  3. ^ Tantri Yuliandini, 'Tracing man's origins in Sangiran, Pacitan' Archived 2013-09-05 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Post, 23 August 2002.
  4. ^ Surat Keputusan Menteri Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan (Decision of the Minister of Education and culture) No. 070/O/1977 dated 15 March 1977.
  5. ^ UNESCO Document WHC-96/Conf. 2201/21.
  6. ^ Etty Indriati, Warisan budaya dan munusia purba Indonesia Sangiran [Cultural heritage and ancient Indonesian man Sangiran], PT Citra Aji Parama, Yogyakarta, 2009.
  7. ^ Kusumasari Ayuningtyas, 'Sangiran Museum to open in 2014', The Jakarta Post, 18 February 2012.
  8. ^ Ganug Nugroho Adi, 'The paradox of Sangiran', The Jakarta Post, 11 June 2013.
  9. ^ Lusiana Indriasani, 'Kemiskinan dan Penjualan Benda Purbakala Sangiran' Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine (Poverty and the sale of ancient artifacts at Sangiran), Kompas, 19 December 2011. There are similar problems at other archaeological sites in Indonesia where regulatory controls are weak, such as at Padang Lawas archaeological site in North Sumatra.
  10. ^ Nurfika Osman, 'American Held Over Rare Fossils Theft' Archived 2010-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Globe, 24 October 2010.
  11. ^ Sri Rejeksi, 'Sangiran, Bumi manusia Jawa yang tandus' [Sangiran, Java's barren homelands], Kompas, 16 March 2013. Also Sri Rejeksi, 'Tanah Air: Wajah Kontradiktif Sangiran' [Homeland: The Contradictory Face of Sangiran], Kompas, 16 March 2013.