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A Bada Valley megalith, Indonesia.

Exploring the Mysterious Bada Valley Megaliths in Indonesia

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Bada Valley (also known as Napu Valley) is a megalithic site situated in the Lore Lindu National Park, in the District of Poso, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Although the megaliths have yet to be formally catalogued and documented (as of 2001) several hundred of them have been located in and around the national park. These megaliths are often carved, and 30 of them depict human / human-like forms. The Bada Valley megaliths are still surrounded by mystery.

Difficult Dating of the Mysterious Megaliths

The megaliths of Bada Valley were first discovered in 1908. Although slightly more than a 100 years has passed since they were first uncovered, it seems that what we know about these objects is still very little. For example, it is not known for certain when these megaliths were made.

Some have speculated that these stones were carved about 5000 years ago. Yet others suggest that they were created at a more recent point of time, i.e. 1000 years ago. Others have also proposed that they are related to a culture that carved megaliths in Laos, Cambodia and other parts of Indonesia 2000 years ago.

People standing by a statue in Bada Valley in the 1930s.

People standing by a statue in Bada Valley in the 1930s. (Tropenmuseum/CC BY SA 3.0)

Uncertain Creators and Purpose

The creators of these megaliths is another mystery. Although it has been suggested that they were made by a culture that made megaliths in other parts of Southeast Asia, the megaliths in Bada Valley are unique, and therefore could have been made by an entirely different culture. At the moment, no one really knows which culture made them.

The original purpose(s) of these megaliths has also been lost, though people have speculated about this as well. Local people, for example, believe that some of the megaliths were once used for ancestor worship. The locals also tell stories about how these megaliths came into being.

For instance, there is a megalith they have named Tokala’ea, which is said to have been a rapist who was turned into stone. The deep cuts on this megalith are said to be knife wounds. Another megalith, known as Tadulako, is thought to have once been a village protector. After stealing some rice, however, he was turned to stone as punishment.

Tokalalaea Megalith, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Tokalalaea Megalith, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Oliver van Straaten/CC BY SA 2.0)

Others have suggested that they had something to do with human sacrifice. Some also believe that the statues were meant to ward away evil spirits, while others claim that the megaliths have supernatural powers and are able to disappear or move from one place to another.

Characteristics of the Bada Valley Megaliths

Regardless of their original purpose(s), the stones used to carve these statues are of a type not found anywhere near the area, thus raising the possibility that they were transported from somewhere else. This means that the people who made the statues were likely to have some sort of social organization that enabled them to undertake such a project.

One of the megaliths in the Bada Valley.

One of the megaliths in the Bada Valley. (Aesthetic Grounds)

The carvings on the megaliths have been described as minimalistic. Human / Human-like figures are often depicted with extraordinarily large heads with straight bodies and no legs. As for facial features, they are commonly shown with round eyes and a single line to represent the eyebrows, cheeks, and chin. Some megaliths have large genitalia carved onto them as well. While many of these statues stand on their own, some were placed in pairs or in small groups.

Another megalith in the Bada Valley.

Another megalith in the Bada Valley. (Aesthetic Grounds)

Confusing Kalambas add to Bada Valley’s Enigmatic Past

Apart from the statues, Bada Valley is also known for its kalambas, which are circular tanks carved out of individual blocks of stone. Kalambas can be found in various parts of the Bada Valley, and come in various shapes and sizes. Some, for example, have a singular hole in the center; while others have two, due to a partition in the middle.

A decorated kalamba.

A decorated kalamba. (Aesthetic Grounds)

According to local belief, the kalambas were meant to serve as bathtubs for nobles / kings. Others have suggested that these were once used as coffins or perhaps cisterns for water. Heavy stone lids, often found lying nearby the kalambas, suggest that they were used to cover these vessels, thus making it improbable that they served as bathtubs. But in the end, much like the statues, it is unclear what these tanks were originally used for.

Kalambas in the Bada Valley.

Kalambas in the Bada Valley. (Lore Lindu Birding)

Top Image: A Bada Valley megalith, Indonesia. Source: scott /Adobe Stock

By Wu Mingren    


Asian Trails, 2014. The mysterious Megaliths of Bada Valley, Indonesia. [Online]
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DrewParsons, 2010. Bada Valley Megaliths. [Online]
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Hile, J., 2001. Explorer's Notebook: The Riddle of Indonesia's Ancient Statues. [Online]
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Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia, 2014. Bada Valley: Sulawesi’s Mystifying Prehistoric Statues. [Online]
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OaNied Explorers, 2016. Bada Valley, Sulawesi, Indonesia – Megalithic Statues Hidden Half a World Away. [Online]
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These are different places. The Kalamba are found in The Napu Valley at a higher elevation than the statues/megaliths which are found in The Bada Valley.

dhwty's picture


Wu Mingren (‘Dhwty’) has a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History and Archaeology. Although his primary interest is in the ancient civilizations of the Near East, he is also interested in other geographical regions, as well as other time periods.... Read More

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