Borobudur and Merapi: What went on before?

An interesting discussion on the volcano Mount Merapi Borobodur, and whether Borobodur ever existed partly underwater or covered by ash.

13 June 2006 (Jakarta Post) – An interesting discussion on the volcano Mount Merapi Borobodur, and whether Borobodur ever existed partly underwater or covered by ash.

Borobudur and Merapi: What went on before?

It all started with a theory proposed in 1933 by Dutch anthropologist WOJ Nieuwenkamp, who said that the temple was built on a hill surrounded by a lake.

That then triggered the curiosity of a Dutch geologist, Reinout Willem van Bemmelen, who carried out more research on the history of the temple.

Concurring with Nieuwenkamp’s theory, in the early 1950s, van Bemmelen proposed that the eruption in 1006 resulted in the burial of Borobudur temple and the ancient Mataram-Hindu kingdom, forcing it to relocate to East Java.

But should Merapi be blamed for all this? Dr. Sri Mulyaningsih, a geologist who wrote a dissertation for her doctorate degree at Bandung Institute of Technology on the impact of Merapi eruptions on the old temples at Yogyakarta, agrees with Nieuwenkamp’s theory but refutes van Bemmelen’s.


Related Books:
Borobudur by L. Frederic and J. Nou
Borobudur Projekt by H. Prager
Some architectural design principles of temples in Java: A study through the buildings projection on the reliefs of Borobudur Temple by P. Atmadi
The Lost Temple of Java (History/Journey’s Into the Past) by P. Grabsky
The Restoration of Borobudur (World Heritage Series)

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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