It’s Time to Look to the West: a New Interpretation on Homo Erectus Findings Distribution of Java


  • Harry Widianto Balai Arkeologi Provinsi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
  • Sofwan Noerwidi Balai Arkeologi Provinsi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta



Homo erectus, Java, Early Pleistocene, Rancah, Semedo, Bumiayu, dispersal


Paleontological data indicate that the beginning of Java Island’s occupation occurred at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary, around 2.4 Mya. However, the oldest Homo erectus fossil was found in Sangiran, around 1.5 Mya. Recently, Pleistocene sites were discovered from the western part of Java, e.g. Rancah, Semedo, and Bumiayu. This paper describes the significance of archeological, paleontological, and especially paleoanthropological data from the new sites, and their implications to the future Quaternary prehistory research strategies determination. Data collection methods include literature study and surveys, while analysis is carried out on the geological, archeological, paleontological, and paleoanthropological data. The result shows the dispersal of Homo erectus is extended to the western part of Java, between 1.8-1.7 Mya, older than the oldest Homo erectus of Sangiran. A new window of the human arrival on this island is identified. So, it is time to look to the west, and intensive research should be carried out to those areas.


Download data is not yet available.


Cohen, K. M., Finney, S., & Gibbard, P. L. (2013). International chronostratigraphic chart. International Commission on Stratigraphy.

de Vos, J. (1985). Faunal Stratigraphy and Correlation of the Indonesian Hominid Sites. In Ancestors: The Hard Evidence (pp. 215–220).

de Vos, J. (1995). The Migration of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens in South-east Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago. In J. R. F. Bower & S. Sartono (Eds.), Pithecanthropus Centennial 1893-1993 Congress (pp. 239–259). Leiden: Leiden University.

Dubois, E. (1894). Pithecanthropus erectus eine Menschenaehnliche Uebergangsform aus Java. Batavia: Landesdruckerei.

Faylona, M. G. P. G. (2019). The Early Pleistocene Aquatic Palaeoecology and Palaeoclimate in Central Java, Indonesia as Recorded in Mollusc Assemblages from the Kalibeng and Pucangan Layers of Sangiran Dome. Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle.

France, D. L. (2009). Human and Nonhuman Bone Identification: a color atlas. NW: Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved from

Hall, R. (2009). Southeast Asia’s changing palaeogeography. Blumea: Journal of Plant Taxonomy and Plant Geography, 54(1–3), pp. 148–161.

Hall, R., Clements, B., & Smyth, H. R. (2009). Sundaland: basement character, structure and plate tectonic development.

Henke, W., Tattersall, I., & Hardt, T. (2014). the Handbook of Paleoanthropology. New York: Springer.

Herz, N., & Garrison, E. G. (1998). Geological Methods for Archaeology. Oxford University Press.

Hetzel, W. H. (1935). Toelichting bij Blad 54 (Madjenang), Geologische Kaart van Java, schaal 1:100,000. Bandung.

Hooijer, D. A. (1948). Prehistoric teeth of man and the orang-utan from central Sumatra, with notes on the fossil orang-utan from Java and southern China. Zoologische Mededelingen, Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie Te Leiden, 29, 175–301.

Kramer, A., Djubiantono, T., Aziz, F., Bogard, J. S., Weeks, R. A., Weinard, D. C., … Agus. (2005). The first hominid fossil recovered from West Java, Indonesia. Journal of Human Evolution, 48(6), pp. 661–667.

Lewin, R., & Foley, R. A. (2004). Principles of Human Evolution. Victoria: Blackwell Publishing. Retrieved from

Martin, R., & Saller, K. (1957). Lehrbuch der Anthropologie: in systematischer Darstellung mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der anthropologischen Methoden. Stuttgart: G. Fischer.

Noerwidi, S., & Siswanto. (2014). Alat Batu SItus Semedo: Keragaman Tipologi dan Distribusi Spasialnya. Berkala Arkeologi, 34(1), pp. 1–16.

Noerwidi, S., Siswanto, & Widianto, H. (2016). Giant Primate of Java: A New Gigantopithecus Specimen from Semedo. Berkala Arkeologi, 36(2), pp. 141–160.

O’Brien, M. J., & Lyman, R. L. (1999). Seriation, Stratigraphy, and Index Fossils: the Backbone of Archaeological dating. Springer Science & Business Media.

Prasetyo, U., Aswan, A., Zaim, Y., & Rizal, Y. (2012). Perubahan Lingkungan Pengendapan pada Beberapa Daerah di Pulau Jawa Selama Plio-Plistosen Berdasarkan Kajian Paleontologi Moluska. Jurnal Teknologi Mineral, XIX(4), pp. 173–180.

Rizal, Y., Westaway, K. E., Zaim, Y., van den Bergh, G. D., Bettis, E. A., Morwood, M. J., … Bailey, R. M. (2020). Last appearance of Homo erectus at Ngandong, Java, 117,000–108,000 years ago. Nature, 577(7790), pp. 381–385.

Sellet, F. (1993). Chaîne opératoire; the concept and its applications. Lithic Technology, 18(1–2), pp. 106–112.

Sémah, F. (1984). Stratigraphie et paléomagnétisme du Pliocène supérieur et du Pléistocène de l’île de Java (Indonésie). These de Doctorat Es Sciences. Université de Provence Aix-Marseille I.

Sémah, F. (1986). Le peuplement ancien de Java. Ebauche d’un cadre chronologique. L’anthropologie, 90(3), pp. 359–400.

Setiyabudi, E. (2009). An Early Pleistocene giant tortoise (Reptilia ; Testudines ; Testudinidae) from the Bumiayu area, Central Java, Indonesia. Journal of Fossil Research, 42(1), pp. 1–11. Retrieved from

Siswanto. (2014). Penelitian Manusia, Budaya, dan Lingkungan pada Kala Plestosen di Situs Semedo, Kabupaten Tegal, Jawa Tengah. Yogyakarta.

Siswanto, & Noerwidi, S. (2014). Fosil Probocidea dari Situs Semedo: Hubungannya dengan Biostratigrafi dan Kehadiran Manusia di Jawa. Berkala Arkeologi, 34(2), pp. 115–130.

Siswanto, S., & Noerwidi, S. (2015). Perbandingan Data Geologi, Paleontologi Dan Arkeologi Situs Patiayam Dan Semedo. Berkala Arkeologi Sangkhakala, 18(2), pp. 169–185.

Sondaar, P. Y. (1984). Faunal evolution and the mammalian biostratigraphy of Java. Cour. Forsch. Inst. Senckenberg, 69, pp. 219–235.

Stehlin, H. G. (1925). Fossile Saugetier aus der Gegend von Limbangan (Java). Wetenscappelijke Mededeelingen, 3, pp. 1–3.

Sudijono. (2005). Age and The Depositional Environment of The Kalibiuk Formation of The Cisaat River Section, Bumiayu, Central Java. Jurnal Sumber Daya Geologi, 15(2), pp. 118–135.

Ter Haar, C. (1934). Toelichting bij Blad 58 (Boemiajoe) Geologische Kaart Van Java. Dienst Mijnbouw Nederlandsch-Indie.

van Bemmelen, R. W. (1949). The geology of Indonesia, Vol. IA: General Geology of Indonesia and Adjacent Archipelagoes. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

van den Bergh, G. D. (1999). The Late Neogene elephantoid-bearing faunas of Indonesia and their palaeozoogeographic implications: A study of the terrestrial faunal succession of Sulawesi, Flores and Java, including evidence for early hominid dispersal east of Wallace’s Line. Scripta Geologica, 117, pp. 1–419. Retrieved from

van der Maarel, F. H. (1932a). Contribution to the knowledge of the fossil mammalian fauna of Java. Wetensch. Med. Dienst Mijnb. Ned. Indie., 15, pp. 1–208.

van der Maarel, F. H. (1932b). Contributions to the knowledge of the fossil mammalian fauna of Java. Wet. Med. Dienst. Mijnb. Ned. Indie, 15, pp. 1–208.

van der Meulen, A. J. (1999). New paleontological data from the continental Plio-Pleistocene of Java. Deinsea, 7(1), pp. 361–368.

van Es, L. J. C. (1931). The age of Pithecanthropus. Thesis, M. Nijhof, The Hague: 1-142, 2 pis, 1 chart.

von Koenigswald, G. H. R. (1934). Zur Stratigraphie des Javanischen Pleistocän. De Ingenieur in Nederlands-Indië, 1, pp. 185–201.

von Koenigswald, G. H. R. (1935). Die Fossilen Saugetierfaunen Javas. Kon. Akad. Wet., Amsterdam, 38(2), pp. 188–198.

White, T. D., & Folkens, P. A. (2005). The human bone manual. Elsevier. Academic Press.

Widianto, H. (2001). The Perspective on the Evolution of Javanese Homo erectus Based on Morphological and Stratigraphic Characteristics. In T. Simanjuntak, B. Prasetyo, & R. Handini (Eds.), Sangiran: Man, Culture, and Environment in Pleistocene Times (pp. 24–45). Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.

Widianto, H. (2011). Nafas Sangiran, Nafas Situs-situs Hominid. Jakarta: Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan.

Widianto, H. (2019). Poros Bumiayu-Prupuk-Semedo : Migrasi fauna dan manusia tertua di Pulau Jawa. Yogyakarta. Retrieved from

Widianto, H., & Grimaud-Hervé, D. (2014). The Latest Discoveries of Homo erectus in Java. In N. Amano, A. Borel, A. Purnomo, & H. Xhauflair (Eds.), Southeast Asia: Human Evolution, Dispersals and Adaptations (pp. 102–106). Burgos.

Widianto, H., & Hidayat, M. (2006). Semedo, Situs Baru Kehidupan Manusia Purba pada Kala Plestosen. Berita Penelitian Arkeologi, 21.

Widianto, H., Toha, B., Simanjuntak, T., & Hidayat, M. (1997). Laporan penelitian Situs Sangiran: Proses sedimentasi, posisi stratigrafi dan kronologi artefak pada endapan purba Seri Kabuh dan Seri Notopuro. Berita Penelitian Arkelogi, 1, pp. 1–136.

Zhang, Y., & Harrison, T. (2017). Gigantopithecus blacki: a giant ape from the Pleistocene of Asia revisited. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 162(November 2016), pp. 153–177.

Berkala Arkeologi; homo erectus; java



How to Cite

Widianto, H., & Noerwidi, S. (2020). It’s Time to Look to the West: a New Interpretation on Homo Erectus Findings Distribution of Java. Berkala Arkeologi, 40(2), 153–178.