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Jakarta Post

Maritime archaeology in the archipelago

  • Oscar Brittain

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, February 21 2012   /  06:00 am

Asia is a literal treasure trove of marine antiquities, lost and found, but some of those treasures have been overlooked or even taken advantage of due to a lack of government attention to maritime culture.

Compared to other Indo-Pacific neighbors such as Australia, the prevalence of looting and the destruction of important historical sites in Indonesian waters signals a dire need for better shipwreck management policy.

Indonesia’s seabed is relatively flat, with many wrecks lying in water roughly 50 meters deep. This leads to many wrecks being inadvertently discovered by fishermen whose lines or nets get snagged on the remnants. Aside from the destruction the nets cause, those discoveries often lead to looting.

“I recently examined a 15th century site in Sabah that had been totally looted, despite lying only 500 meters from a coastal police post,” archaeolo...