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Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Daro-Daro from Nias

Thanks to Geo for drawing our attention to this fantastic photo.  Apparently it's from the island of Nias, off the coast of Sumatra.  It appears to have been taken in 1915, during the transport of a large "daro-daro" stone, designated to be used as a justice table.  So clearly there was high status and motivation involved here.  I found a few more bits of interest, on the web:

Daro-daro -- flat stone used as a table -- for the administration of justice

Big stones (megaliths), some nicely decorated, were a part of the culture of the island of Nias off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. There were big stone statues, stone seats for the chieftains and stone tables where justice was done. There were also big stones needed to commemorate of important deceased people. When such a stone was erected, a ritual feast was to be given. All this to enable a nobleman to join his godly ancestors in the afterlife. On the photo such a stone is hauled upwards. The story has it that it took 525 people three days to erect this stone in the village of Bawemataloeo. (P. Boomgaard, 2001)

Stone and wood are two part of material that have significant meaning for Nias culture. Nias Island is famous with megalithic tradition[14]. According to research result form Medan Archeological office, there are some area in Nias that still have megalithic tradition: Subdistrict Sirombu (Sisabandrao village); Subdistric Mandrehe (Sisarahili village); Subdistrict Teluk Dalam (Bawomatoluo , Orahili Fau, Hilifalawu, Hilisimaetano); Subdistrict Lolowau (Olayama, Bawe Hesi, Ehosakhozi); Subdistrict Gomo (Tundrumbaho). The relic of megalithic tradition in Nias have connection not only with the soul of ancestor but also with the efforts to elevate the prestige and social[15].
Hombo Batu or stone jump is the one of tradition of Nias people that still exist until now. Usually, the people who will become to adult (men) must able to pass when jump the stone. The hight of stone from the ground around 2 – 2.5 meter. We still can find many relic of Nias people that made from stone : like menhir, statue, daro-daro (table from stone).


Geocur said...

The cropping of the "umbrella " does make a difference to the mood .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Which umbrella? Never was one on the version I saw..... does it have some archaeological significance?

Geocur said...

There wasn't one in the original pic ,or at least the web version . That's what I'm saying , it was cropped and changes the mood of the pic . Look at the right hand of the bloke on the stone if that's not a Savile Row gamp edited out I'll eat my wampum beads .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Do you mean they used to doctor images even in those far off days? I am appalled......

Geocur said...

I imagine it was the original rather than later editing ,but I don't know .Ansell Adams was cropping pics of Yosemite at that time , D. W.Griffith was editing on a bigger scale in an even tricksier medium but much earlier was being very naughty .

Anonymous said...


How can we be sure this was not financed by National Geographic or Hollywood? The wide-angle camera seems to hint at this. So does the 'cast of thousands'. And Geo's cropping observation.


Geocur said...

Some furhtre info about the pic.

Anonymous said...

What is more interesting is that this culture used the stones as foundations to their larger buildings.

The reason for this is that their island is near a fault line and makes them earthquake proof.

Is this the reason Stonehenge has the necessary mortise and tenon joints?

Was once Britain subject to frequent earthquakes in the past?

Iain Stewart

chris johnson said...

Most of the guys in our local football club do it for the social side - playing a match is a good way to work up a thirst for a session in the canteen with their mates. The game is fun too.

I guess it is similar for many megalithic movers. No doubt there are chiefs who get respect by sponsoring the pig-fest and supplying the shirts, but most of the labourers are in it for the party. Reminds me of Durrington Walls.

Sometimes we get too serious about the motives. Most people do not question the intrinsic purpose of an activity, they turn up for the entertainment or because they get paid. In our football club our priest is always in attendance because that is where most of his congregation is on sunday afternoons. Five thousand years from now some professor will no doubt speculate that the presence of the priest makes the sunday afternoon beerfest a religious event with the game itself being a sacred ritual.

No doubt at Stonehenge the vicars would have had their moment to gaze at the stars, perhaps with special effects from Jon's theory, while the majority were waiting for the next round of ribs, another magic mushroom, and a fertility rite.

chris johnson said...

@Iain. No reason to think earthquakes were a factor when building SH, imo. Similar to today.

Anonymous said...


"Britain is overdue a potentially devastating earthquake that could topple London's grandest landmarks, cause billions of pounds worth of damage and endanger scores of lives, a leading seismologist warned yesterday.

Dr Roger Musson of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh said that a sub-sea fault under the Straits of Dover that has caused two large earthquakes in the past 700 years could strike again at any time, putting London in the firing line.

The geological fault has already generated relatively large earthquakes in 1382 and 1580 and there is a substantial risk that a similar-sized earthquake could occur again with severe consequences for the capital given that it rests on clay soil that is easily shaken, Dr Musson said."

In the past 50 days....

Date Time Lat Lon Depth Mag Int Region Comment
2012/10/13 03:24:24.3 49.103 -2.313 5 1.4 JERSEY,CHANNEL ISLANDS 17KM SW OF ST HELIER
2012/10/12 21:33:22.7 56.912 -4.752 7 1.3 2 SPEAN BRIDGE,HIGHLAND FELT BOHUNTINE
2012/10/11 14:26:27.0 49.539 -0.346 16 2.3 ENGLISH CHANNEL 140KM SSW BRIGHTON
2012/10/11 12:31:52.0 49.574 -0.380 14 2.3 ENGLISH CHANNEL 140KM SSW BRIGHTON
2012/10/10 05:18:09.8 52.853 -1.359 11 1.8 CASTLE DONINGTON,LEICS
2012/10/08 09:28:58.9 53.219 -1.047 1 1.6 2 OLLERTON,NOTTS FELT OLLERTON
2012/10/08 03:11:25.1 49.602 -2.929 7 2.2 ENGLISH CHANNEL 30KM NW OF GUERNSEY
2012/10/06 12:30:56.0 55.241 -3.440 2 1.1 JOHNSTONEBRIDGE,D&G
2012/09/30 06:20:30.4 56.389 -3.878 2 0.6 COMRIE,PERTH/KINROSS
2012/09/25 17:19:49.5 49.807 0.038 2 2.1 ENGLISH CHANNEL
2012/09/22 07:39:57.7 56.381 -3.981 2 1.1 3 COMRIE,PERTH/KINROSS FELT COMRIE
2012/09/21 09:29:52.0 56.370 -3.970 2 1.4 3 COMRIE,PERTH/KINROSS FELT COMRIE
2012/09/20 12:59:05.4 55.161 -6.629 5 1.3 COLERAINE,N IRELAND 3KM NE OF COLERAINE
2012/09/17 08:26:48.2 57.603 -5.536 2 1.2 TORRIDON,HIGHLAND
2012/09/08 19:02:54.5 55.029 -7.573 1 1.1 2 COUNTY DONEGAL,IRELAND FELT TAMNEY
2012/09/05 16:08:10.2 53.126 -2.262 7 1.1 CONGLETON,CHESHIRE
2012/09/02 17:06:46.6 53.280 -2.324 8 0.7 OLLERTON,CHESHIRE
2012/09/01 07:04:12.4 55.728 -6.320 26 1.1 2 ISLAY,ARGYLL/BUTE FELT ISLAY

To judge history by today's standards would be an error, similar to suggesting that the weather over the last 5,000 years has always been the same.

Rocks to have practical uses as well as rubbing or worshipping them.


Georcur said...

Iain , oddly enough there are quite a few stone circles and standing stones in the area around the HBF near Shakey (Comrie) they tend to be squat but a group at Dunruchan , which are closer to Stonehenge sarsen stature , are all still standing with no sign of any that have ever fallen .

chris johnson said...

Iain, fascinating input. Thanks.

I have been wondering about the effect of various natural events like volcanic eruptions, objects from space, climate change, and now I'll add earthquakes to the list.

I think the early people had a long folk memory so likely the quakes were woven into their myth making too

I recall there is evidence for a major quake off Ireland a couple of hundred years ago that caused a tsunami in the Bristol Channel.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Iain -- thanks for the comments. Of course there have always been quakes in various parts of the UK, and there always will be. The question is whether large ones (big enough to cause things to fall down) are frequent enough to require a building / design response among local people. If there are several generations who have no memory of a big quake, probably people will get rather blase about what they perceive as a very low risk.

At the end of the Devensian glacial episode, I speculate that there may well have been a lot of tectonic adjustments (quakes and landslides) in those areas where there was a lot or pressure release -- i worked in Iceland in the 1970's and saw evidence of huge landslides on all sides -- triggered off, I suppose, by isostatic recovery processes, pressure release when ice was removed from steep slopes and by the complex tectonic / volcanic situation in the crust in and around Iceland.

I speculate that quakes might have been more frequent in the period 20,000 BP - 10,000 BP because that was the period of rapid glacier retreat and isostatic readjustment in northern Britain. The process is still going on. A rising crust means tension, and an increased risk of tears, fractures, and earthquakes. Southern Britain is sinking, and I speculate that the crust there is under compression and is therefore stronger. Hence a lower risk of large earthquakes. But then of course we do have these things called faults, on which quakes can always be triggered, especially if they have been stuck for a long time. Just a few thoughts.......

chris johnson said...

Quakes might be a plausible explanation for some of the over-engineering we think we see at SH and elsewhere. As Geo points out, the later stone monuments seem to have been quake resistant while we still puzzle why some of the capstones have fallen on the early dolmens.

Very useful addition to our thinking.

chris johnson said...

@Brian. As an after-shock, there is nothing quite so cataclysmic as an ice-age. I wonder whether you see any possible memories of this among the ancient myths?

Geocur said...

Megaliths are often set in shallow settings ,reliant on their bulk and gravity to remain standing .Others are set in a shallow socket ,this one one is only 16 cms into it's socket (scroll to pics 2, 3 &5 ) .
Capstones are much more likely to collapse because they are being supported ,sometimes with only three supports , but the efforts to make an impression with the all important bulk and angle (nothing utilitarian about either ) makes the extreme examples unstable .

chris johnson said...

Interesting link Geo. Well worth a visit if I go to Perthshire. Is there any dating for this site?

Geocur said...

Chris ,there was some bone found at the recent keyhole dig but yet to get a date .This is a good example of a stone circle that is now considered to be have been erected later than previously thought (as opposed to what Simon/stuart love/bob suggest is a one way street in the other direction ).Probably Mid to Late Bronze Age although there is evidence for Neolithic activity it was not related to monument construction . Quite complex sequence too .

Anonymous said...

There is some evidence that past earthquakes are recorded by broken stalagmites in Mendip caves.

Chambers have been discovered ( previously unentered by humans or animals) that contain substantial stalagmites that have been sheared off at their base, with no obvious responsible agency; Rock fall,floods etc, in some cases frost fracturing can also be ruled out.

U/th dating of the calcite also suggests that some of the stalagmites were formed and fractured post devensian.

Anonymous said...


Stonehenge is a site that shows signs of a 'construction' as opposed to just standing stones - so to compare it to a simple stone circle is irrelevant and shows a lack of understanding - a small brick wall will survive and earthquake, a house of the same material will probably fall down.

As for "there was some bone found at the recent keyhole dig... Probably Mid to Late Bronze Age although there is evidence for Neolithic activity"

Also shows a sad failure of rationale. As a piece of bone found on a site (even if it was placed under a standing stone) does not prove the age of the site - just the 'not after' date.

In the same way, as if one day someone finds a piece of bone, pollen or cow dung under the pair of trilithon stones that were re-erected by the ministry of works last century. It would be incorrect and foolish for future archaeologists to suggest that Stonehenge was built in 1958.... although that seems to be the conclusion of your logic.

Bob the Builder

Geocur said...

Bob ,simon, stuart , sherlock and any other RJL alter egos , I was not comparing Stonehenge with other stone circles ,I was mentioning standing stones and stone circles in an area where earthquakes have regularly been recorded .
If you read the comments that you have quoted and connected as if they were in the same sentence then you would realise that they belong to two entirely separate sentences with another sentence in between which changed the thrust from “no date from the recent bone “ to answer the question about possible dates and point out that this is an example of monument that is now seen as being later than previously believed , the reasoning had nothing to do with the yet to be dated bone . If you would like to know ,do ask or even better read the original excavation report and later reconsiderations .
Stick to quotes , that's good and an improvement but don't mix them up . A piece of dated bone found at a stone circle only dates the bone , the context and stratigraphy may help ,nobody says it dates the construction .It could pre or post date the construction by millenia . “Not after “ does that suggest before .Investigate TPQ and TAQ ,useful beginners concepts .

Anonymous said...


"A piece of dated bone found at a stone circle only dates the bone , the context and stratigraphy may help ,nobody says it dates the construction"

Progress at last - you must have read RJL's book and absorbed the wisdom?

Let hope this admission stops this absolute dating you have been quoting on this (and other) blog sites in the past. If you wish to qualify your dates, I suggest you use the 'not after' quote.

i.e "Probably Mid to Late Bronze Age" becomes "not after the Mid to Late Bronze age" - so much more accurate.

AS for 'TPQ and TAQ', unless they use the above principle, you may as well throw them in the same bin the Time Team TV series has now been disposed in, as clearly 'joe public' are turned off by the same inaccurate academic nonsense.

Bob the Builder ;-)

Geocur said...

RJL , no mention of your creative editing of different sentences , worthy of William Burroughs and about as insightful .
Read the literature or quote , neither I , nor anyone here that I am aware of , has ever said anything different to "A piece of dated bone found at a stone circle only dates the bone , the context and stratigraphy may help ,nobody says it dates the construction" .That really is primary 1 stuff and shouldn't need stating . If the “wisdom” is book length , it doesn't bode well considering the mistakes and misunderstandings evident in two short posts here .
Now that you have started to quote get it right . I didn't say "not after the Mid to Late Bronze age" you have made that up by misunderstanding and joining different sentences . The reply to the question still remains “probably Mid to Late BronzeAge “.Look carefully at the “not after “ it is in quotes for a reason , you said it , before is less clumsy . It's not surprising that you might think that the unnecessary "not after the Mid to Late Bronze age" is more accurate for a site you know nothing about .

chris johnson said...

Does not add much to Geo's original post.

Nice to hear from Bob but I am missing his input.