Talk: The emergence of state and cities in southeast Sumatra

Readers in London may be interested in this upcoming talk by Dr Pierre-Yves Manguin at SOAS.

At the origins of Srivijaya: The emergence of state and cities in southeast Sumatra
Dr Pierre-Yves Manguin (Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient)

Date: 14 March 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Source: 20170314 – Seminar – Pierre-Yves Manguin

Ghost ships: why are World War II naval wrecks vanishing in Indonesia?

Natali Pearson discusses the recent cases of underwater looting of World War II shipwrecks in Indonesia

Sunken World War II warships, the final resting place for thousands of sailors, have been disappearing in Indonesia. But so far there’s been little action taken to ensure their protection.

Source: Ghost ships: why are World War II naval wrecks vanishing in Indonesia?

Borobudur authority mulls plan to restrict visitors

Authorities are considering restricting the number of visitors to Borobudur to 15 at any one time to limit structural damage to the ancient monument.

Borobudur. Source: Indonesia Investments 20160831
Borobudur. Source: Indonesia Investments 20160831

Govt to Only Allow 15 Visitors at a Time at Borobudur Temple
Jakarta Globe, 30 August 2016

Authorities Indonesia to Limit Visitor Numbers at Borobudur Temple
Indonesia Investments, 31 August 2016

The government plans to limit the number of visitors who will be allowed access to Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, to only 15 at any given time, an official said on Tuesday (30/08).

State-run Antara news agency quoted Nadjamuddin Ramly, the director of heritage and cultural diplomacy at the Ministry of Education and Culture, as saying that there are concerns about the preservation of the ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist temple. He said the Unesco World Heritage Site often receives hundreds of visitors, who all enter the at the same time, which may affect the building’s structural integrity.

He said the government will issue a regulation that limits the number of people allowed to enter at any given time. The figure of 15 is based on research data related to the structural capacity of the building.

Full stories here and here.

Tourist ban on touching stupas and Buddhas of Borobudur

Borobudur authorities are enforcing a ban on touching stupas and Buddhas in an effort to preserve the site from damage.

Tourists banned from touching Borobudur statues, stupa
Jakarta Post, 27 July 2016

Travelers visiting Borobudur Temple in Central Java should avoid touching and stepping on the temple’s stupa in order to preserve one of the world’s most sacred heritage sites.

Borobudur Conservation Agency public relations officer Mura told tempo.co that authorities had consistently warned tourists through the loudspeaker regarding the matter.

“Touching the stupa can cause damage to the temple. Although it’s made from stone, it can be broken. The bottom part of the stupa has become soft and it lost its original shape due to being touched repeatedly by tourists,” said Mura while showing a palm print that had corroded the temple’s stone.

Borobudur was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Built in the 8th century, it is the biggest Buddhist monument in the world.

Full story here.

A history of local activism at Borobodur

Borobudur is Indonesia’s most famous ancient temple site and also a Unesco World Heritage site. This story tells an inside history of how local communities have lobbied to protect the site from outside commercial interests.

Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016
Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016

The hidden story of Borobudur
Inside Indonesia, Jul-Sep 2016

The local resistance movement, whose lobbying against the mall was eventually successful, used not only conventional demonstrations, such as rallies, but also protests in the form of rituals and art performances. This was to show the government that it was time to stop exploiting Borobudur for commercial purposes and instead nurture the Borobudur that had provided local residents with meaning and livelihoods. Rituals and art performances are an act of giving. Unlike the economically motivated protests in which people demanded their share of the profits gained from treating the temple as a commodity, these cultural protestors voluntarily gave their money, energy and time to maintain the spiritual and social importance of Borobudur. In the controversial arena of cultural heritage management, local groups with strong support are making a robust case: it is time to give the spiritual and ethical basis of Borobudur the respect and attention it deserves.

Full story here.

Bali’s first mosque

A feature on the oldest mosque in Bali, believed to be established during the Majapahit period.

Bali's oldest mosque in Klungkung. Source: Jakarta Post 20160630
Bali’s oldest mosque in Klungkung. Source: Jakarta Post 20160630

The earliest mosque on the Island of the Gods
Jakarta Post, 30 June 2016

Rusiah and other local residents believe that their ancestors were a group of 40 courtiers sent by King
Hayam Wuruk from the Majapahit Kingdom and that they were among East Java’s first Muslim converts.

Led by the only woman in the group, Dewi Fatima, the 40 converts formed an entourage for Gelgel’s king, I Ketut Nglisir, following his visit to Majapahit.

Village head Sahidin claims he is the direct descendant of those 40 courtiers, like many others in the village.

“The Gelgel king was invited to visit Majapahit in East Java. For his return journey, Hayam Wuruk ordered 40 Muslims from East Java to escort the king […] When they arrived here, because of their good behavior toward the king and his kingdom, they were invited to stay,” said Sahidin.

King Nglisir then awarded the new Islamic community several hectares of land just 500 meters to the south of his palace in Gelgel.

Full story here.

Red Bull apologises for desecrating Borobudur

Drink brand Red Bull issues an apology for desecrating Borobudur by filming an unauthorised commercial at the sacred site.

Red Bull ad at Borobudur. Source: Rappler 20160630
Red Bull ad at Borobudur. Source: Rappler 20160630

Red Bull apologizes to Indonesia over offensive ad
AFP, via Rappler, 30 June 2016

Red Bull has publicly apologized for shooting a commercial in which an athlete performed acrobatic stunts across one of Indonesia’s ancient holy temples, an official said Thursday, June 30.

The energy drink manufacturer issued an apology in national newspapers admitting it shot the video at the 9th-century Borobudur temple “without permission from the appropriate authorities”.

The video – in which a famous “free running” athlete is shown jumping between the temple’s stone stupas – triggered outrage in Indonesia, where Borobudur is a revered Buddhist site and national icon.

Full story here.

Evidence of fire-making in Liang Bua

A microstratigraphic study of the Hobbit cave, Liang Bua, reveals the use of fire between 41,000 and 24,000 years ago. The dates suggest that Homo sapiens used the cave after Homo floresiensis and fueling speculation that modern humans were responsible for the extinction of the hobbits.

Liang Bua. Source: Cosmo Magazine 20160630
Liang Bua. Source: Cosmo Magazine 20160630

Initial micromorphological results from Liang Bua, Flores (Indonesia): Site formation processes and hominin activities at the type locality of Homo floresiensis
Journal of Archaeological Science, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.06.004

Fire discovery sheds new light on ‘hobbit’ demise
Science Daily, 29 June 2016

Modern humans may have smoked ‘hobbits’ out of their caves and into extinction
Mother Nature Network, 29 June 2016

Gap Between “Hobbits” and Modern Humans Narrows
The Scientist, 29 June 2016

Fireplace discovery sheds light on hobbits’ demise
Cosmos, 30 June 2016

Humans did wipe out real-life ‘hobbits’, say scientists
The Independent, 1 July 2016

Liang Bua, a karstic cave located on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia, is best known for yielding the holotype of the diminutive hominin Homo floresiensis from Late Pleistocene sediments. Modern human remains have also been recovered from the Holocene deposits, and abundant archaeological and faunal remains occur throughout the sequence. The cave, the catchment in which it is located and the gross aggradational phases of the sediment sequence have all been subject to a great deal of scientific scrutiny since the discovery of the holotype of H. floresiensis in 2003. A recent program of geoarchaeological research has extended analyses of the site’s deposits to the microstratigraphic (micromorphological) level. The stratigraphic sequence in the cave is well defined but complex, comprising interstratified sediments of diverse lithologies and polygenetic origins, including volcanic tephras, fine-grained colluvium, coarse autogenic limestone gravels, speleothems and anthropogenic sediments, such as combustion features. The sedimentological and chemical heterogeneity suggest that processes of site formation and diagenesis varied markedly through time, both laterally and vertically. We present initial results from samples collected in 2014 from an excavation area near the rear of the cave, which yielded radiocarbon ages from charcoal that fill an important temporal gap in the chrono-stratigraphic sequence of previously excavated areas of the site. The results indicate marked changes in site environment and hominin activity during the Late Pleistocene, relating primarily to the degree to which the cave was connected to the hydrogeological system and to the varying intensities of use of the cave by hominins. Importantly, we identify anthropogenic signs of fire-use at the site between 41 and 24 thousand years ago, most likely related to the presence of modern humans.

Article link here.