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Illegal treasure hunters flock to Sukoharjo heritage site in Central Java

Illegal treasure hunters flock to Sukoharjo heritage site in Central Java Visitors take in the sight of the Sirih Temple, a long-abandoned ancient site in Karanganyar village, Weru district, Sukoharjo, Central Java. (thejakartapost.com/Ganug Nugroho Adi)
Ganug Nugroho Adi
Sukoharjo, Central Java   ●   Wed, November 1, 2017 2017-11-01 11:08 1287 1f87594453bb792833e1ece3a26e10c6 1 National treasure-hunters,illegal-excavation,Sukoharjo Free

Residents of Mandan and Joho sub-districts in Sukoharjo, Central Java, have reported an influx of treasure hunters who are scouring paddy fields looking for ancient objects.

The sub-districts are believed to be site of an ancient Buddhist temple.

The residents said the raiders often sneaked in at night.

"They are usually made up of three to five people," said Bimo Kolor Wijanarko, one of the residents, adding that the illegal treasure hunters had already excavated several spots within the 10-hectare area.

Bimo said this had been going on for two years now.

It decreased after the local administration declared the land a conservation area and heritage site, making such activities illegal. However, it has picked up again in the past few months. 

Another resident, Handoyo, 40, said the raiders sometimes paid the local owners to excavate their fields.

"They have found bones, jewelry, statues and pottery even though they only dig as deep as 30 centimeters," Handoyo said.

A paddy field owner, Mariman, said the treasure hunters usually came during the dry season when farmers do not plant their fields.

"I know nothing about the heritage. [Some people] want to rent my field for Rp 3 million [a month] and I just allow them [to do the activity]," he said.

Darno, of the Sukoharjo Education and Culture Agency, said the local administration had given the area conserved zone status.

"Therefore, we will take action against those illegal treasure hunters," Darno said (foy/dmr).