It is thought that the Indonesians were expelled from Further India
by Austro-Asiatic peoples, amongst who were the Khmer in Cambodia
and the Mons in southern Burma.
Neolithic man is generally thought of as barbaric and scarcely civilized.
It is hard for modern man to detach himself from h is own world,
in which technology has opened tip possibilities for advance hitherto
undreamed of, and to appreciate adequately the progress achieved
during the Neolithic era.
Those migrants who came to the Archipelago were no longer nomadic.
They built rectangular houses supported on piles and developed the
planting of rice in artificially irrigated fields. They kept pigs
and cattle, but owing to the lack of suitable pastures cattle raising
was of insignificant importance over vast stretches of the Archipelago.
They made articles of clothing from the bark of certain trees and
receptacles from clay. But as there existed many kinds of bamboo,
tile canes of which could easily be worked into wooden vessels,
pottery was restricted to the so-called coiling technique: the clay
was coiled upon itself in concentric rings until the desired shape
was obtained. A potter's wheel was not employed in this technique.
For the firing of pottery, naturally, only a fairly primitive process
Whether these tribes were versed in the art of weaving cannot easily
be ascertained, although this is probable, since ancient receptacles
have been found which still bear the imprint of plaited work and
woven fabrics. However, it has not yet been possible to date these
remains with absolute certainty. Besides the rectangular axes already
mentioned, the largest specimens of which were undoubtedly used
in agriculture as hoes, one also finds adzes - axes used for the
purpose of working wood. This follows from the manner in which these
stone implements must have been secured at the haft. These kind
of quadrangular axes, which have come down to us in various sizes,
testify to the fact that the Indonesian of the Neolithic period
must have been fairly skilled in the working of wood, as is shown
by the finds of small adzes which can only have been employed fur
woodworking of a more delicate kind.
As is only to be expected, objects made of such non-durable material
or remains of such objects, have not been preserved. But artistically
worked objects in stone- beads and bracelets, evidence of various
stages of' technical development - have been found. From this it
follows that people who could master technical difficulties in producing
magnificent artifacts of this nature were certainly capable of making
beautiful objects from wood, which was so much easier to work.
The question arises as to where Neolithic man found the hard types
of rock which he required for his implements. Excavations at many
sites have brought to light whole collections of stone implements
which have only been partly worked. Only through primitive shape
had been hewn out; no ground or polished pieces arc to be found,
or remains to show that these sites were inhabited. In all probability
these are workshops dating from the Neolithic period, since they
arc always situated where there arc plentiful supplies of the appropriate
kind of stone, silicated limestone. One may presume that the stone
implements were only worked upon provisionally here. so as to reduce
the weight of this heavy material as much as possible before transport.
The grinding and polishing, on the other hand, required much more
time, and could be carried out more easily at. the place of destination.
AL the same time it should be borne in mind how dangerous it must
have been for these men to stay away from their homes for along
period of time.