WHS: Sangiran Early Man Site

Moving on from Semarang back south towards Solo (Surakarta), you pass through fairly standard looking central Java countryside, wouldn’t have a clue there was anything remarkable about it just to look…

… but this, is fact, a key place in our understanding of himan evolution: half — HALF! — of all the world’s known hominid fossils come from this neighborhood, which makes it a shoo-in for a World Heritage inscription:

Sangiran Early Man Site

Java Man


Sangiran Early Man Site is situated about 15 kilometers in the north of Solo town in Central Java, Indonesia, covering an area of 5,600 hectares. It became famous after the discovery of Homo erectus remains and associated stone artifacts (well-known as Sangiran flake industry) in the 1930s. There is a very significant geological sequence from the upper Pliocene until the end of Middle Pleistocene by depicting the human, faunal, and cultural evolutions within the last 2.4 million years. The property also yields important archaeological occupation floors dating back to the Lower Pleistocene around 1.2 million years ago. 

The macrofossils that appear abundantly from the layers provide a detailed and clear record of many faunal elements, while the property reveals more than 100 individuals of Homo erectus, dating back to at least 1.5 million years ago. These fossils show human evolution process during the Pleistocene period, particularly from 1.5 to 0.4 million years ago. Inhabited for the past one and a half million years, Sangiran is one of the key sites for the understanding of human evolution…

For sites like this where the actual inscribed property is too fragile to visit personally and/or there isn’t any particular enlightment to be gained by kicking the dirt around at a place the things of interest have been removed from, we figure it’s perfectly acceptable to count a sighting of the inscription document as a sighting of the actual site. Like, for instance, this one:

Sangiran Early Man Site Inscription

(And, y’know, even if you can’t locate said document as we managed here, as long as you make it to an exhibit devoted to the place … hey, long as you’ve got a story to tell, go ahead and count it. Because we figure the stories are what it’s all about, really.)

The two pictures above are actually from different museums: the inscription is hanging at a new one opened in 2014, which is a pretty quick visit with four rooms of bones and stuff, and the statue at the top there is a much larger museum + park complex that’s a popular tourist stop.

Both worth a visit if you’re at all interested in human evolution — excellent mix of dioramas and other crowd pleasing displays

Sangiran Museum Diorama

right up to some cutting edge discussion of the various Out of Africa vs multiregional theories of human diversity that you’re not likely to find discussed in mainstream publications these days, and there’s a lot more solid support for the multiregional theories than we realized.

The pièce de résistance here though, is actual remains of Homo floresiensis. Hobbits are REAL!


So between that conclusive proof of hobbits as a separate tool-using hominid, and a surprising number of under the radar discoveries like the Red Deer people, that absolutely would have been immediately named a separate species if they were a similar close-but-not-quite like that to any species other than humans, we figure this visit convinced us that the multiregional hypothesis is likelier.

Plenty of room for discussion though; go check the Sangiran museum out and make your own mind up, we always welcome informed and impassioned debate around these parts!


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I go places.

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