ISBN 1 74076 113 8 $49.50 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 978 1 921313 04 2 (Online)
Published February 2007
|Bird of Paradise|
This volume describes the results of the first archaeological survey and excavations carried out in the fascinating and remote Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia between 1995 and 1997. The naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who stopped here in search of the Birds of Paradise on his voyage through the Indo-Malay Archipelago in the 1850s, was the first to draw attention to the group. The results reveal a complex and fascinating history covering the last 30,000 years from its early settlement by hunter-gatherers, the late Holocene arrival of ceramic producing agriculturalists, later associations with the Bird of Paradise trade and the colonial expansion of the Dutch trading empires.
|Sempe from Batuley Villages|
|The old Qur'an in Ujir Vilage|
The excavations and finds from two large Pleistocene caves, Liang Lemdubu and Nabulei Lisa, are reported in detail documenting the changing environmental and cultural history of the islands from when they were connected to Greater Australia and used by hunter/gatherers to their formation as islands and use by agriculturalists. The results of the excavation of the late Neolithic — Metal Age midden at Wangel are discussed, as is the mysterious pre-Colonial fort at Ujir and the 350-year old ruins of forts and a church associated with the Dutch garrisons.
In the mid-19th century, Sir Russel Wallace (colleague of Charles Darwin) stopped in the Aru Islands to open his observations about the variation of animal species in the Indonesian archipelago. Wallace and Darwin initially announced their findings jointly, though history has embraced Darwin for a few of his more controversial theories.
Given the interest these of these two naturalists in the Aru Islands, it comes as no surprise that a rich ecosystem is at work. Monitor lizards, kangaroos, wallabies, crocodiles and a host of tropical birds live here.
Of the 95 islands, 21 are large enough to explore. Dozens of small islets are interspersed between these. Exploring the terrain requires hiring a guide though there is no outright infrastructure. In some cases, the leaders of more prominent villages will be prepared to connect tourists with guides and homestay arrangements. The only semblance of a hotel scene is on the island of Dobo.