Archaeologists find 150 prehistoric rock art images on Indonesia’s Kisar island in Maluku

An ancient wall painting of a gecko flanked by two hands was found in Liang Tewet, Sangkulirang, East Kutai district, East Kalimantan province. (The Indonesian National Archeology)

Bogor, W Java (Indonesia Window) – A team of archaeologists from the Maluku Archeology Center found 150 images of prehistoric rock art on Kisar island in Southwest Maluku district, Maluku province, while conducting a survey looking for traces of ancient human migration in the southern part of the Maluku Islands in August 2021.

“A quantitative analysis has not been carried out, but from the survey the number is very large, around 100 to 150 ancient rock images that have never been recorded before,” Lucas Wattimena from the Maluku Archeology Center was quoted by Antara news agency as saying in Ambon on Thursday (Sep. 23).


He pointed out that 150 ancient rock art images were found scattered on the walls and roofs of 13 cave sites in the west of North Kisar sub district, not far from Kisar John Becker Airport.

The motifs of those ancient images are quite diverse in figurative and non-figurative forms, such as images of the sun, boats, anthropomorphic types of lines, handprints, and circles. The images are associated with one another, as well as in groups, and some are located in a single form.

The discovery, Lucas said, increased the number of prehistoric rock art images ever found on Kisar island to nearly 3,000 images since a joint study by the Australia National University (ANU), the Indonesian National Archaeological Research Center and the Maluku Archaeological Center was conducted at the end of 2014.


“In 2015 there was a follow-up study from the Maluku Archaeological Center. If it is included, therefore the number is almost 3,000 rock images that have been found in 80 cave sites,” he noted.

According to Lucas, the ancient rock art on Kisar island is very fascinating to study further because the number and motifs, as well as the distribution of images are very diverse.

For example, the image of a handprint. Based on the shape, the handprint motifs found in the area are divided into several forms, namely the palm of the hand, the palm of the hand to the wrist, and the palm of the hand to the arm.


Recently, in the same study, an image of the left hand stamp without an index finger was also found. The object of such an image has never been found before in the Maluku Islands.

“For handprint images, the shapes are quite diverse, there are left and right hands in small and large sizes. Meanwhile, generally they drew in red and orange colors,” said Lucas.

Reporting by Indonesia Window


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