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Jakarta Post

Archeologists unearth ancient Mataram Hindu temple

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang   /   Wed, September 30, 2015   /  03:06 pm
Archeologists unearth ancient Mataram Hindu temple Uncovered: Workers excavate the ruins of a temple on farmland in Mijen district, Semarang, on Monday. A national team of archaeologists believe the red-brick temple was built during the seventh century during the era of the Mataram kingdom.(JP/Suherdjoko) (JP/Suherdjoko)

Uncovered: Workers excavate the ruins of a temple on farmland in Mijen district, Semarang, on Monday. A national team of archaeologists believe the red-brick temple was built during the seventh century during the era of the Mataram kingdom.(JP/Suherdjoko)

A National archeology team has been excavating a Hindu temple believed to be from the Ancient Mataram era built during the reign of the Sanjaya '€” Rakai Pikatan dynasty between the seventh and 10th Centuries.

The temple, with a structure of red bricks made of clay and andesite stones, is located in Duduhan hamlet, Mijen subdistrict, Mijen district, Semarang, Central Java.

The team leader Agustijanto said the base of the temple was a square measuring 9.3 meters on each side. The bricks measured 34 centimeters in length, 20 centimeters in width and were 9.5 centimeters thick.

'€œWe have yet to learn the height of the temple,'€ Agustijanto said on the sidelines of the excavation works on Monday, which began last Friday.

Members of the team included expert in temple materials Johan Arif of Bandung Institute of Technology'€™s School of Geology, Bowo of the Yogyakarta Archeology Center, some students from Gadjah Mada University and several locals.

The temple is located in a field of a farm belonging to a man named Sutopo. It is covered in soil in which durian and mahogany trees grow.

The National Archeology Research Center initially recorded the discovery in 1976. A number of discoveries including a Ganesh statue and fragments from a statue'€™s head and arms were stored at Kendal Regency Tourism and Culture Agency.

By Monday, the team had excavated a number of spots, and the base of the temple was already exposed. The bricks still looked intact and of much better quality, and more solid and harder in texture, than bricks presently found on sale in underground antique markets.

The team has also found a yoni and a nandi (ox) statue whose head and tail were missing. They were found at a T-junction some kilometers from the temple. The team believed the two objects came from the temple.

'€œThis is the ruins of an early Hindu temple,'€ said Agustijanto, adding that the team had conducted research on early Hinduism and Buddhism along Java'€™s northern coast.

The team, he said, had discovered temples and inscriptions in Brebes, Tegal, Pekalongan, Semarang regency and Semarang city.

'€œThis is the first temple we have discovered in Semarang city. We have not yet found an inscription here. We can only estimate that it originated from between the seventh and 10th centuries,'€ he said.

Meanwhile Johan Arif said that the temple was located close to two lakes and agricultural fields.

'€œWe provisionally estimate that the rice fields were artificial and not nature-made. We have not yet investigated if there was a group of people who lived here, prepared the fields for cultivation and then built a temple for religious rituals,'€ Johan said.

With regard to the bricks, Johan said that the materials were thought to have come from the surrounding areas. There was lava in the clay that the bricks could have been made of, he said.

'€œWe are now collecting toponym data to look for the origin of the area from the names of the villagers there,'€ Johan said.

Separately Asih Sandrawati of Semarang City Tourism and Culture Agency said that she went to the location of the temple some three years ago.

'€œI didn'€™t realize that it was a temple. I also saw a similar mound near here. It could be another temple,'€ she said.

The archeology team was scheduled to finish the excavation on Tuesday. It will prepare a complete report on the work as material for a research paper, and possibly as a basis for the restoration of the temple.