[Lecture] Ten Years of Archaeological Research in Indonesia: Highlights from the National Archaeology Research Centre

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this lecture at ISEAS on Wednesday.

Ten Years of Archaeological Research in Indonesia: Highlights from the National Archaeology Research Centre
Date: 08 Aug 2018
Time: 10:00am – 11:30am
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2

About the Lecture
The National Archaeology Research Centre (PUSLIT ARKENAS) was established shortly after Indonesia’s independence, on the foundations of the Dutch colonial Antiquity Service (Oudheidkundige Dienst, 1913). For about 105 years after its creation, PUSLIT ARKENAS has conducted archaeological surveys and research on land as well as underwater throughout the archipelago. The last ten years saw groundbreaking discoveries from the prehistory to the WWII periods. These discoveries will be presented at this seminar. These endeavors range from the Harimau cave, a site once inhabited by the Sriwijayan people on the estuary of Musi River (South Sumatra), to the early Mataram period Liyangan settlement site in Java, on the slope of Mt Sindoro (9th c.), and lastly, the WWII shipwreck of the German U-boat which sank in the Java Sea.

About the Speakers
Bambang Budi Utomo is an archaeologist at the Indonesian National Archaeology Research Centre (PUSLIT ARKENAS). He has participated in numerous research projects in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Lesser Sunda over the years. He has also written for various national newspapers and served as a reference source for semi-documentary films produced by private television stations. His primary research focuses on the Sriwijaya and Malayu periods, specifically on the influences of Sriwijaya in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, the Malay Peninsula, and Southern Thailand. More recently he has used maritime archaeology and history to try to understand Sriwijaya from a maritime cultural perspective in the hope of helping Indonesians understand their strong maritime connections that come from living in an archipelago.

Shinatria Adhityatama graduated from Gadjah Mada University in 2012 with a BA in Archaeology. He has been a maritime archaeologist at the National Archaeology Research Centre (PUSLIT ARKENAS) in Jakarta, Indonesia since 2013. He is an experienced diver with more than 400 logged dives since 2006. Shinatria has been involved in domestic and international maritime archaeology training and maritime archaeological projects in Indonesia and Australian waters, including the exploration of a German U-boat in Java Sea in 2013; the exploration of prehistoric maritime culture in Misool Island, Raja Ampat in 2014; a survey of the HMAS Perth in the Sunda Strait in 2014; the exploration of underwater archaeology in the outer islands of Indonesia; Natuna Island in 2015; research for shipwrecks around Belitung Island in 2015; the Fortuyn Project in 2016; submerged prehistoric landscapes in Matano Lake in 2016; and the HMAS Perth project in 2017.

Borobudur exhibition in North Jakarta mall

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04 June 2007 (Jakarta Post) – For this week at the Mangga Dua Square in Jakarta, shoppers will be treated to an exhibition on the greatest Buddhist monument in Southeast Asia, Borobudur.

Ancient past exhibited in mall

For the next seven days starting Sunday, the seemingly distant topic of archaeology will be bridged by the exhibition, “Tracing the Nusantara civilization from the 9th to 12th centuries, Maha Karmawibhangga: The hidden legacy at the foot of Borobudur.”

“We want to bring this topic closer to the public and reveal things that previously remained exclusive to academics,” the Tourism and Culture Ministry’s head of cultural research and development, Junus Satrio Atmodjo, said last week.

The famed Borobudur serves as a lure to bring people in and pique their interest in Indonesia’s ancient past.

The timing of the exhibition was impeccable, with Buddhists commemorating Buddha’s Day of Enlightenment, or Waisak, the Friday before its opening.

Working with the Indonesia Sangha Conference, the ministry is putting on a full week of events as part of the exhibition, including art performances that will highlight the country’s rich cultural past.

In building Borobudur, the ancient civilization of Syailendra was thoughtful enough to provide a temple that would serve as a historical library for future generations.

Read more about the Borobudur exhibition at Mangga Dua Square mall.

Books about the great Buddhist monument, Borobudur:
The Restoration of Borobudur (World Heritage Series)
The Lost Temple of Java (History/Journey’s Into the Past) by P. Grabsky
The Mysteries of Borobudur: Discover Indonesia Series by J. N. Miksic
Borobudur by L. Frederic and J. Nou
Borobudur: Golden Tales of the Buddhas (Periplus Travel Guides) by J. Miksic
The Magnificence of Borobudur by D. D. Burhan

Down on their luck, farmers turn gold diggers

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27 February 2007 (Jakarta Post) – Indonesian farmers turn to treasure hunting in times of drought to raise money, oblivious to the archaeological value of the artefacts.

Jakarta Post, 27 Feb 2007

Down on their luck, farmers turn gold diggers

It was seven months into the drought last month and the farmers of Pedes district in Karawang, West Java, were at their wits end thinking of ways to make a living.

Then one of them hit on something — literally — when he was digging in a field. Beads of gold and stone, ceramics and human bones protruded from the freshly dug earth.

“You can’t imagine what it was like to strike gold after being broke for months,” 56-year-old Wijaya, one of the Pedes residents who spent days and nights digging for ancient treasure in one of the rice fields near his house, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Living just an hours drive from archeological sites dating back to a prehistoric era did not make Wijaya and his neighbors aware of the historical value of the beads they found.

Illegal excavations are common practice in the country, with some fully aware of the fact they are breaking the law stipulating that artifacts that are more than 50 years old belong to the state.

Some others, like those who found ceramics and coins in Jakarta’s Old Town, were simply ignorant they were erasing traces of history for the sake of some extra cash.

Meanwhile, archeologists are too busy playing Indiana Jones or seeking funding support to preserve ancient sites and the government cannot be relied upon.

“The public cannot be blamed for what has happened all too often. We have to support public archaeology if we want to raise community awareness,” said Peter Ferdinandus, a researcher with the National Archaeological Research Center.

Public archaeology is a branch of modern archaeology that focuses on increasing public awareness and education about archaeology and that promotes legislative attempts to provide funding and protection for archaeological sites.