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May/June 2015

7

Makassar—the Centre for the Preservation of the Cultural

Heritage of Makassar. A sprinkling of rain spatters the coconut

palms and the fort’s yellow walls with their red-trimmed windows

and doors. Our guide and interpreter, archeologist Mubarak Andi

Pampang, meets us and leads us up old granite stairs to the offices

of Muhammad Ramli, second in command at the Centre. Sitting

at his desk below Indonesia’s national coat of arms, he greets us

warmly and shares coffee. Clearly eager for the trip, he dons a hat

familiar to fans of a popular Hollywood

archeologist played by Harrison Ford.

We nickname him “Indonesia Jones.” He

smiles and leads us out.

Chatter in the car on the busy road

north toward Maros is of endless curios-

ity. Are previously undiscovered paintings

still being found? Yes, says Pampang, we

encourage locals to report new findings,

and then government archeologists go in

and survey them. “We give full credit to

the discoverer, honoring them each year

and often providing them jobs as main-

tenance and security for the sites,” he

explains. “We ensure they understand it’s

their own proud heritage.”

Limestone karst formations soon

dominate the landscape. We are driving

on a flat plain, mostly of rice fields, but

just a few kilometers away these closely

grouped steep hills of limestone rise

Adjacent to the oldest known hand stencil

is this now-faint drawing of a babirusa

(“pig-deer”),

left,

that Aubert dated to

35,400 years old, near the time of the oldest

figurative cave art in Western Europe. The

archeologist’s drawing

below

shows the

babirusa, the handprint, flaked-off (exfoli-

ated) areas as well as dozens of dot-like

calcite accretions known as “cave popcorn”

or, scientifically, coralloid speleothems.

INDONESIA

MALAYSIA

SINGAPORE

Sumatra

Jakarta

Java

Kalimantan

New Guinea

Indian Ocean

MALAYSIA

BRUNEI

Maros

Makassar

South Sulawesi

Cave Region

Pacific Ocean

L

Sulawesi

DRAWING: LESLIE REFINE, GRAPH & CO / COURTESY MAXIME AUBERT; OPPOSITE, LOWER: BLAINEY WOODHAM