The Cultural Legacy of Makassar Stone in East Timor

Andrew McWilliam*, David Bulbeck, Sally Brockwell, Sue O'Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    During research on the archaeology and ethnohistory of fortified settlements in East Timor, a series of old graves was recorded with masonry features that local Timorese referred to as 'Makassar stone' (M: Batu Makassar, or Makassar mataru in the Fataluku vernacular). Oral histories of Fataluku-speaking communities associate the grave styles with traders from Sulawesi who developed a major maritime network from the late sixteenth century. While the stone used in the Timorese graves is clearly of local origin, the use of similar stonework for grave construction in seventeenth-century Makassar graves in Sulawesi suggests the possibility of close links between the two societies, including the extension of Islamic influences into East Timor at this time. In the following paper, we evaluate a range of evidence for these associations, including a seventeenth-century Islamic burial of a high-born Sulawesi woman near the port of Hera in East Timor.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-279
    Number of pages18
    JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Anthropology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


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