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MEGALITHIC CULTURE

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As has already been mentioned above, during the Neolithic period there came to Indonesia not only stone implements for immediate economic use, but also beautifully shaped stone axes which served a sacral purpose. Both types were, however, tools according to their shape and purpose. The former were used by all in the performance of their everyday tasks in agriculture, tree filling, hunting, etc., whilst the latter, the 'irrational' implements, were in the hands of those who performed certain sacral actions, such as sacrificial slaughter of animals.

But other objects made of stone also play a considerable part in Neolithic culture. They represent something special in so far as they have not the slightest connection with the term implement as such. They are to be found practically everywhere in the world where civilization has developed. Colossal and mysterious, they excite the imagination of the observer of today. Thus in northern districts of the Netherlands we find tumull, and in Brittany table-shaped stones and tall upright monumental stones, as silent witnesses of a Neolithic culture long ago extinct. And die Breton terms dolmen and menhir are employed by archeologists when referring to similar objects the world over. These megaliths, i.e. large stones, are so widespread, and are so much alike, that it was even thought that they had been brought to far distant parts of the earth from Egypt, the land where megalithic culture develop.-d on the most grandiose scale.' Be that as it may - and the last word has by no means been said on this theory - the fact remains that, apart from the single exception of Australia, megalithic culture has existed throughout the world, and here and there is still inexistence even today. In Indonesia, too, megaliths arc to be found in many places. In most cases they bear witness to civilizations which have ceased to exist. Buton, Nias Island, on the other hand, an island off the west coast of Sumatra, megaliths are still venerated objects, whilst on Sumba and Flores in the Lesser Sunda group stone sepulchral monuments are still being erected at the present day.

But it should not be supposed that megaliths are necessarily always stones of considerable size, although the term 'large stones' might lead to this misconception. On the contrary, smaller stone objects must, also be classed as megaliths, inasmuch as they were evidently made with some particular sacral purpose in view, and have no connection with implements in the ordinary sense of the word.

 
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