From Food to Grave Good Nonhuman Primate Exploitation in Early to Mid-Holocene Eastern Java (Indonesia)
Nonhuman primates are among the most common taxa represented in Holocene faunal assemblages from Java. In this paper, we examined patterns of Cercopithecidae exploitation, from acquisition through processing, in two cave sites in eastern Java’s Gunung Sewu region: Song Terus and Braholo Cave. Trachypithecus auratus accounts for more than 90% of the nonhuman primate remains recorded, suggesting deliberate targeting of this taxon over other monkey species. Skeletal element representation and the placement of butchery marks allowed us to reconstruct how monkey carcasses were processed. The consistency in the placement of butchery marks is highly suggestive of a systematic butchery process as well as of an intimate knowledge of monkey anatomy. In addition to being the major source of protein for the human inhabitants of the sites, leaf monkeys were also an important source of materials for tool and ornament manufacture. It further appears that leaf monkeys played a significant role in rituals, as several remains were found in association with a human inhumation. In this paper we describe the full chaîne opératoire applied in monkey processing, from acquisition to food processing to grave goods, developed by the inhabitants of the Gunung Sewu from the early Holocene onward.