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Jakarta Post

Archeologists call for preservation of ancient structure found in Kediri airport site

  • Asip Hasani

    The Jakarta Post

Kediri   /   Tue, March 3, 2020   /   06:15 pm
Archeologists call for preservation of ancient structure found in Kediri airport site An ancient brick structure in Grogol district, Kediri, East Java, thought to originate from the time of the kingdom of Kediri, between the 11th and 13th centuries. (JP/Asip Hasani)

Archeologists have called for the preservation of an ancient brick structure recently found in Kediri, East Java, in an area set to be developed into a new airport funded by major cigarette producer Gudang Garam. 

"We have to protect the site where some parts of an ancient structure or building have been discovered," archeologist Nugroho Harjo Lukito from the East Java Cultural Heritage Preservation Center told The Jakarta Post recently. “We will talk to Gudang Garam because we are going to carry out an initial excavation to determine the size of the ancient structure.”

He said Gudang Garam would have to adjust its airport site plan because the cultural heritage site was located within the airport area. 

The structure was first reported by Jasmin, 55, a resident of Grogol village, Grogol district, who accidentally discovered the structure a few months ago as he was walking along a riverbank near rice fields that had been acquired by Gudang Garam. 

He slipped and fell into the river and saw a structure made of bricks measuring around 2 meters high with a small opening at the bottom. 

"The structure was covered by thick bushes. I forgot the pain in my legs and tried to take a closer look,” Jasmin told the Post, adding that he immediately went to see the village head to tell him about what he had just seen. 

Nugroho said the structure might be part of a hot spring bath built during the time of the Hindu kingdom of Kediri between 11th and 13th centuries. 

He said the opening at the bottom was probably a water outlet of an underground water system that supported the hot spring.  

“The kingdom of Kediri had a number of underground water systems,” he said. 

The structure’s proximity to other heritage sites on the slopes of Mount Klotok also indicated it was of the same origin, he said. 

”There are four hermitage caves and a temple on Mount Klotok, which are all from the time of the Kediri kingdom,” he said. 

Nugroho added that construction workers had also recently found ancient clay housewares around a kilometer from the structure 

Archeologist Dwi Cahyono from state-run Malang University agreed with Nugroho, saying that the structure could be an important Javanese heritage site that needed to be preserved. 

"The ancient structure could be a special site within the airport that passengers could look at it," he told the Post

Gudang Garam, through its subsidiary Surya Dhoho Investama, is set to spend around Rp 10 trillion (US$732.4 million) to build the airport, including the acquisition of around 400 hectares of land.

The airport, the construction of which is being fully funded by the company, is expected to be bigger than the Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport in Malang and accommodate around 5 million passengers per year.

Once completed, it will have a 3,000 meter by 45 m runway that will be able to accommodate a wide range of aircraft, from Boeing B777s to Airbus A350s, as well as a passenger terminal, cargo terminal and parking area.

The ancient structure is located just 700 meters from Bedrek hamlet, where some 20 households have yet to agree to the compensation offered by Gudang Garam. 

"We just want a fair compensation so that we can buy land and build houses with similar proximity and access to public facilities," said Anis, one of the Bedrek villagers.

The airport’s official groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-April.