The dilapidated King Blongkod burial ground, a pre-Islamic era heritage site in Gorontalo, will undergo restoration work.
The Gorontalo Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency (BPCB) has begun an initial study of the site, which is located in the middle farm land in Dunggala village, Tapa district, Bone Bolango regency.
Hadi Saputro Wirahadikusumo head of the restoration study team, speaking at the site recently, said that there were nine historical areas of interest that were believed to be burial grounds.
King Blongkod’s tomb measures 3.5 meters (m) by 4.95m and is just over 2m high. It takes the shape of a stepped pyramid.
Some of the tomb’s bricks are damaged and the outer wall is peppered with cracks.
Another, bigger tomb — measuring 2.2m by 1.34m and surrounded by a rectangular wall measuring 5.2m by 4.7m — is next to King Blongkod’s tomb. It is believed to be the grave of the king’s wife, Boki Bimbing and is in a much better condition.
Two other tombs in the same locale are severely damaged.
Hadi said his team would restore the tombs with materials that matched the originals.
“After the restoration work is complete, the site, which was designated a heritage site in 2007, will become either a tourist site or a public museum along with an archeological center run by Gorontalo,” he said, adding that the actual restoration work would begin in 2014.
Faiz, a member of the restoration team, explained how King Blongkod’s tomb was identified as a pre-Islamic structure because it was built facing east-west.
“Tombs from the Islamic era had a north-south orientation,” said Faiz.
Another interesting discovery was the presence of earthenware and pottery fragments around the site. Faiz said the artefacts might have been buried with the deceased or indicated the presence of settlements around the site.
“Farmers cultivating the field here claim they often stumble upon such fragments when plowing,” he said.
Based on the motifs and color of the earthenware, the team believe them to dated back to the Ching and Ming Chinese dynasties around the 14th century.