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Jakarta Post

Toll road construction hits archaeological sites in East Java

  • Aman Rochman

    The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java   /   Sat, March 16, 2019   /   11:45 am
Toll road construction hits archaeological sites in East Java Bajang Ratu Temple, a relic from Majapahit Kingdom in Trowulan, East Java. (Shutterstock.com/INDONESIAPIX )

A site thought to be from the Majapahit Kingdom has been found in Sekarpuro subdistrict, Malang regency, East Java, during the development of section V of the Malang-Pandaan toll road project.

The discovery has put the construction on hold, according to the president director of state-owned toll road operator PT Jasa Marga Pandaan-Malang, Agus Purnomo.

“We are waiting for the result of the study conducted by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center [BPCB] and will coordinate with the BPCB in Trowulan [East Java] regarding the finding,” Agus said on Sunday.

The finding was a brick structure resembling stairs and bricks scattered on the site of the toll road construction. Each of the bricks is about 45 x 60 centimeters wide with a thickness of 7 cm.

They were found when a bulldozer was about to clear the area.

Observing the bricks, archeologist M. Dwi Cahyono of Malang State University predicted that they came from a building constructed during the era of the Majapahit kingdom, which existed from the 13th to the 15th centuries.

Looking at the structure, he hypothesized that it was a place of worship located in the middle of a village. It could also have been the residence of a rich family or an important official, as suggested by the discovery of objects such as coins, gold jewelry and ceramic fragments on the site.

“Based on information from locals, some of the coins were found in a jar container,” said Dwi Cahyono, adding that the shapes of the coins suggested that they came from China.

Read also: Ancient objects believed from Ming Dynasty found in East Java

Haryoto of the Malang office of the BPCB concurred, saying he thought the site dated back to the Majapahit kingdom. The brick structure is thought to be a place of worship because it resembles those in the Brahu Temple in Trowulan, Mojokerto, East Java, the crematorium of Majapahit kings Brawijaya I to IV.

Trowulan is a district in Mojokerto regency where most of the relics and ruins of the kingdom were found.

“To make sure about the shape of the structure and its detailed history, an excavation is needed,” said Haryoto, calling on anyone that finds a historical object there to hand it over to the BPCB office.

Malang was home to numerous ancient kingdoms, he added, ranging from Kanjuruhan, Ancient Mataram of the East Java period, Singosari, up to the Majapahit kingdom. This is why numerous historical objects have been found there, with many others thought yet to be found.

The Singosari section of the Malang-Pandaan toll road development project also collided with Punden Watu Gajah, an archeological site made of andesite rock 136 centimeters tall, which is thought to come from the Singosari kingdom.

The party responsible for the project had agreed to move the development from its initial plan.

“We heard Jasa Marga has agreed to move the project from its initial location, but [for the Majapahit relic] they are still waiting for the result of the study conducted by the BPCB team,” Haryoto said.