Historical Treasure Troves Looted: West and Central Java

New archaeological finds in Java are being looted by local villagers, with reports of hundreds of kilogrammes of gold being taken from graves and sold in the black market.

21 January 2007 (Jakarta Post and Reuters, by way of planetmole.org) – New archaeological finds in Java are being looted by local villagers, with reports of hundreds of kilogrammes of gold being taken from graves and sold in the black market.

Historical Treasure Troves Looted: West and Central Java

It appears that too many Indonesian farmers and the ilk have been watching Lara Cross and Tomb Raider recently. There have been two important archaeological finds in Central and West Java – both were looted.

The finds were in tombs in a rice field at Kendal Jaya village east of Jakarta, and the other in Sleman near Magelang in central Java.

In West Java, farmers have sold hundreds of gold artifacts stolen from skeletal corpses unearthed at a newly-found ancient burial complex. The skeletons had chains of gold rings around their necks, heads, hands, and feet.

They were buried with other accessories made of precious stones or gold as well as axes and other pottery articles. Between 15 and 25 people are estimated to have been buried at the site at a depth of only about 1.5 meters (five feet).

Archaeologists expressed concern at reports that hundreds of villagers have been selling gold necklaces and ornaments that they found at the site over the past week.

Archaeological agency official Manggar Sariayuwati said it was estimated the relics dated back to an 8th or 9th century Buddhist kingdom.

And, an archaeological team working in Magelang district near Yogyakarta have also unearthed a site from the Mataram Kingdom dating back to the ninth century AD.

The site at Losari village is believed to possibly be even bigger than the famous Borobudur Buddhist monument near Yogyakarta city, which also dates back to around the ninth century.

The head of the Yogyakarta ancient heritage office, Manggar Sariayuwati, said that the findings were estimated to be dated from the eighth to the ninth century AD.

Java has many ancient sites dating back to the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms that flourished from the seventh century onwards.


Related Books:
Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula by P. M. Munoz
The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (Suny Series in Religion) by D. K. Swearer

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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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