Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | 04:32 WIB

The Netherlands has yet to return Javanese human fossil to Indonesia; here’s why


Jakarta, IDM – Early last month, the Dutch government announced plans to return around 472 cultural artefacts to Indonesia.  However, one of the ‘Java Man’ artifacts is still in the Netherlands because it is still in the research stage.

The Indonesian government has been pressing for the historical object of the Java Man to be returned to Indonesia since 1975. Now, the oldest human fossil ever found on the island of Java is still on display at the Naturalis Leiden Biodiversity Center and is considered one of the important discoveries in the map of human evolution, per BBC Indonesia, Tuesday (11/7).

 Jaef de Boer, Deputy Head of Culture and Communication at the Dutch Embassy, ​​said that the Java Man skeleton found by paleoanthropologist Eugène Dubois was not included in the list of historical objects to be returned by the Dutch Government to Indonesia because they need more time to sort out the entire collection containing thousands of historical objects that Dubois found.

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 “Dubois’ collection is very large and requires more time to be examined before being sent to the Secretary of State for Culture Gunay Uslu,” said Jaef.

 According to Jaef, its return requires consultation, both with the Dutch team and the Indonesian repatriation committee, as well as the Naturalist Museum which houses the remains of the Javanese Man.

 Meanwhile, Hilmar Farid, Director General of Culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture, said the Javanese Man was one of the artifacts included in the priority list by the repatriation team. 

 “We have talked to all stakeholders to compile a list of objects that need priority and Java Man is included in it. I also realize that this must be gradual, because research takes time and efforts,” said Hilmar.

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 Hilmar explained that Indonesia and the Netherlands have agreed that looted relics would be returned unconditionally.  However, that doesn’t mean the process will be straightforward.

 “We want to show Indonesia’s own contribution to the development of human knowledge in history, and that is one reason why Java Man needs to be returned to Indonesia,” he said. (bp)


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