Megalithic Tombs of Sumba

Elaborately carved tomb along road in Kodi region

Although megalithic cultures are a thing of the past in most of the world, these traditions are alive and well in many remote Indonesian islands from Nias to Sulawesi to Flores to Sumba. Of these islands, Sumba is – without a doubt – megalith central. Thousands upon thousands of monstrous stone tombs dot the island. They are literally everywhere.

Even today, megalithic tombs are an important (and exorbitantly expensive) part of the death rituals in Sumba. While archaeologists theorize about the construction of famous sites such as Stonehenge or Gigantia, the people of Sumba are actively building their megalithic masterpieces. We’ve put together a small collection of some of the more interesting tombs, both old and new, that we’ve found while exploring the surrounding countryside.

Interesting tomb design in Weiyuli(?) village
just behind Praigoli in Wanokaka region

Tomb along coast near Ratenggaro in Kodi region

200-year-old Watu Kajiwa tomb in
Praigoli, Wanokaka region

Typical table-style tomb in Waikabubak

Modern tomb along road in Wanokaka region

6 responses to “Megalithic Tombs of Sumba”

  1. avatar Guillaume says:

    Dear Tony,
    I am a French archaeologist currently working in Cambridge university. In the course of my research I’ve been finding a big interest in Sumba decorated tombs. After a research on the internet I found your wonderful photograph of one of the Ratengarro tombs (the 3rd photograph in your “megalithic tombs of Sumba” webpage) and I wanted to know if it would be possible to kindly send me a copy of this photograph in bigger resolution. This is for my own use only and not for publication or internet use.
    Thank you very much for your help and congratulations for your fantastic photographs!
    Guillaume

  2. your pictorial is very interesting since i am an admirer of socio-cultural anthropology and voluntary worker for indigenous social development. hope you can send some more pictures of the Sumba carved ‘batu kubur’. i try to find the correlation between the carvings and tenun ikat motifs/designs re spirituality of the weaver….and later on the beholder.
    tq. Soli Deo Gloria!

  3. avatar sellofruska says:

    Dear Guillome,
    I am doing some research about the megalithic structures of Sumba, and i have trouble finding information about the motifs carved on the stone structures. Could you recommend me any site or source of information where i could learn about this?

    Thank you!

    s

  4. avatar dida says:

    dear tony…
    i am from sumba and really apreciate your picture…
    i wish can help you to find more information about sumba.
    thank you

  5. avatar Ailantd says:

    Hi, can you tell us about the traditional reasons, practical or mythological, to build such kind of tombs? Also, how traditionally the stones where cut, moved and put in their final place?

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