The Social Life of Tombs in West Sumba, Indonesia



Ethnoarchaeological examination of the contemporary practice of erecting stone tombs within residential compounds in West Sumba, Indonesia provides important insights into active social processes that can be associated with residential burials. Residential tombs in West Sumba reach megalithic proportions and convey not only links to past ancestors but also social dynamics associated with power negotiation, achievement, and the continuity of living groups. This study of residential burial and tomb-building in West Sumba reveals actively changing and multifaceted social meanings linked to tombs as well as commonalities shared by both residential and monumental burials with intriguing implications for prehistoric mortuary practices.