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Second Ancient Sarcophagus Uncovered in Bali
February 3rd, 2009

A sarcophagus, or stone coffin, estimated to be up to 2,500 years old has been found in Bali’s Gianyar district, a local archaeologist said on Monday.

Wayan Suantika, the head of the Denpasar Archeology Agency, told the Jakarta Globe that the sarcophagus had been found on Saturday in Keramas village by Muksin Riadi, a brick maker, while he was digging for brick-making material. It was found 1.5 meters below the surface.

Muksin had immediately stopped digging and reported the finding to the Blahbatuh Police.

Wayan said the size of the sarcophagus suggests that it was most likely used to inter a child, and he made a preliminary estimate that it dated back about 2,300 to 2,500 years. Bones and teeth were also found.

The sarcophagus had a width of 60 centimeters and a height of 49 centimeters.

Wayan said he would lead a team of experts to further examine it today.

“We haven’t opened it yet, so we don’t know what is inside of it,” he said.

It was the second discovery of a sarcophagus within a month, after the first was found on Jan. 13 less than 10 meters away.

Now that two had been found, the agency had assumed the location had been a residential area of people from a Mongoloid race.

Wayan said it was likely that the people buried inside the sarcophagi were from important families.

“Not everybody could be buried in a sarcophagus, only important people or a tribe leader,” Wayan said.

He said the agency would secure the sarcophagus if the landowners did not want to take care of it. They had declined an offer to keep last month’s find and it had been removed to the agency’s office.

The latest finding was the thirteenth sarcophagus in the Gianyar district.

Hundreds have been found across Bali Island.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reports that Malaysian archaeologists have announced the discovery of stone tools they believe are more than 1.8 million years old and the earliest evidence of human activity in Southeast Asia.

The stone hand-axes were found at Lenggong in Perak state, in a type of rock formed by meteorites, and were sent to a Japanese lab to be dated.

Team leader Mokhtar Saidin said “this is the earliest evidence of Paleolithic culture in the Southeast Asian region.”

Mokhtar, from Malaysia’s University of Science, said he believed the hand-axes were used by homo erectus, an extinct early human.

He said the previous oldest homo erectus fossil discovered in Southeast Asia was from Java and dated at 1.7 million years.

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