Sailing the deep blue sea: The rock art of Wetang Island, Maluku Barat Daya, Indonesia

Sue O’Connor*, Shimona Kealy, Lucas Wattimena, Adam Black, Muhammad Husni, Mahirta

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Recent discovery of painted rock art on Wetang Island in the Babar Island group, Maluku Province, Indonesia, reflects the central place of boats in the daily lives of island peoples, as well as their paramount ritual and symbolic role in Maluku, and more broadly across Island Southeast Asia. In addition to boats, the Wetang sites contain images of domestic animals, as well as a unique image of an apparent macropod (a marsupial mammal of the family that comprises kangaroos and wallabies), a family not found on most of the Maluku islands today. The Wetang art sites have some geometric motifs in common with their neighbor island, Kisar, and we raise the possibility that these symbols may have operated as markers of family or clan identity and thus may inform on lineal ownership of land and relationships between these islands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)398-425
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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