West Java Batujaya archeological site, village of Batujaya, Karawang

Written by on June 2, 2012 in Java Heritages with 0 Comments

West Java Batujaya archeological site, village of Batujaya, Karawang



Batujaya is an archeological site located in the village of Batujaya, Karawang in West Java, Indonesia. The site is five square kilometers in area and comprises at least 30 structural[1] in what Sundanese call hunyur or unur (high mounds of earth consisting of artifacts). Unur is similar to the manapo found at the Muara Jambi archaeological site.

The site was first found and examined by archaeologists from the University of Indonesia in 1984. Excavations have since uncovered 17 unur, of which three are in the form of pools. The structures found are made of bricks composed of a mixtures of clay and rice husks (vajra-lepa), not volcanic rock which is difficult to find in Batujaya. Two structures recovered are in the form of temples, one of which, known as Jiwa Temple, has been restored. According to Dr Tony Djubiantono, the head of Bandung Archeology Agency, Jiwa was built in the 2nd century.

As local Indonesian governments do not maintain the site, Ford provides funds for research and excavation of the Batujaya complex as part of its Conservation and Environmental Grants.[2]

The discovery of this archaeological site was important as although it was the location of Tarumanagara, the oldest Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in Indonesia, West Java lacks ancient temple remains. Before the discovery, only four temple sites have been found in West Java, namely they are Cangkuang Temple (in Garut), Ronggeng Temple, Pamarican Temple, and Pananjung Temple (in Ciamis).

Preliminary research at Jiwa found that the temple was built between the fifth and sixth centuries. This is based on the inscriptions found on numerous votive tablets discovered in the area, small clay tablets with inscriptions and pictures of Buddha used in prayer. Prof. Dr. Budihartono (a senior anthropologist from University of Indonesia) proposed carrying out pollen analysis for examining both the paleoenvironment and also cultural records, including evidence of diet and food processing.

In and around the site is also discovered the fragments of Buni culture clay pottery, which suggests Buni prehistoric clay culture spread across West Java northern coast was the predecessor of Batujaya site.

The history of the existence of temples in Indonesia is inseparable from the history of kingdoms as temples were usually built by the order of kings or other local rulers. Since the Dutch occupation centuries ago, there was no new development in the discovery of ancient structures in West Java, until the last thirty years. Ancient heritages play a key role in revealing the history of past Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in West Java. So far, historians make the most of information written on stone statues or ancient manuscripts such as Pustaka Jawadwipa, Pustaka Rajyarajya i Bhumi Nusantara, and Chu-fan-chi by Chau Ju-kua (1178-1225). The latter is a Chinese manuscript that describes Sunda in one of its sections. One of the stone statues from which scholars learn the ancient Sunda is Juru Pangambat stone statue or Pasir Muara stone statue (458 Caka or 536 AD), found in Pasir Muara, Bogor, which describes the handing over of sovereignty back to Sundanese leaders. There is also another stone statue which was found in Pasir Muara. The statue is called Elephant Track stone statue as the stone bears two elephant paw’s prints along with some written information explaining that the elephant whose prints are on the stone belongs to the ruler of Tarumanagara. Ciaruteun stone statue was discovered along Ciaruteun River, about 100 meters from the point where Ciaruteun River joins Cisadane River. Where the statue was discovered is only a few hundred meters from the site where Juru Pangambat stone statue was discovered. Ciaruteun stone statue is marked by a picture of footprints accompanied by some information written in Sanskrit using Palawa characters. The writing informs that the footprints belong to King Purnawarman, ruler of Tarumanagara. The ancient manuscript Pustaka Rajyarajya i Bhumi Nusantara also mentions some information about King Purnawarman. It states that the king ruled Tarumanegara from 395 AD until 434 AD. Meanwhile, a stone statue was discovered in Ciampea, near the site where Juru Pangambat stone statue was discovered, in a coffee plantation that once belonged to Jonathan Rig. The stone statue, later called Kebon Kopi stone statue, dates from 942 AD. Another stone statue was also discovered on top of Koleangkak Hill, Pasir Gintung Village, Leuwiliang Sub-district. The stone statue bears a pair of footprints and a writing informing that the footprints are King Purnawarman’s, the ruler of Taruma. There are other stone statues from which experts learn the history of kingdoms in West Java, such as Citatih (Cibadak, 1030 AD), Cidanghiang (Lebak), and Jambu (Nanggung, to the west of Bogor) stone statues. Based on the information written on stone statues and in ancient manuscripts, Experts conclude that Taruma Kingdom was founded by Rajadirajaguru Jayasingawarman in 358 AD. The king died in 382 and succeeded by his son, Dharmayawarman (382 – 395 M). The next king of Tarumanegara, Purnawarman (395 – 434 AD), built a new capital, Sundapura, in 397 AD. There were only 12 kings who reigned Tarumanagara Kingdom. The last king, Linggawarman, was succeeded by his son-in-law in 669 AD. Juru Pangambat stone statue, which describes the handing over of sovereignty back to Sundanese leaders, was made in 536 AD, during the reign of Suryawarman (535 – 561 AD), the seventh king of Tarumanagara. Pustaka Jawadwipa manuscript adds that during the reign of Candrawarman (515 – 535 AD), Suryawarman’s father, many local rulers were given back their sovereignty over their own lands as a token of gratitude for their loyalty to Tarumanagara Kingdom. The handing over of sovereignty is a clue that Sundapura, previously the capital of Tarumanagara, changed its status and became a separate kingdom. Therefore, the center of Tarumanagara sovereignty was moved to another place. In 670 AD, Tarumanagara was split into two, Sunda Kingdom and Galuh Kingdom, separated by Citarum River. Kings who reigned Sunda Kingdom were the offspring of King Tarusbawa, King Linggawarman’s son-in-law. King Tarusbawa, who controlled Sunda Kingdom until 723 AD, founded a new capital for the kingdom in a hinterland near the upper course of Cipakancilan. In 732 AD, King Tarusbawa later was succeeded by the second king of Sunda Kingdom, King Harisdarma, his son-in-law. The latter conquered Galuh Kingdom and he was better known as King Sanjaya. As King Sanjaya was also the heir of Kalingga’s throne, he became the ruler of North Kalingga which was also known as Mataram Hindu, in Central Java, in 732 AD. He bequeathed the kingdom in West Java to his son, Rakai Panaraban. His other son, Rakai Panangkaran, inherited Mataram Hindu Kingdom. In the last 30 years, some new historical sites were discovered in several different places in West Java, such as Bojongmenje Temple in Kampong Bojongmenje, Cangkuang Village, Rancaekek Sub-district, Bandung District (discovered on August 18th, 2002); Ronggeng Temple or Pamarican Temple in Pamarican Sub-dsitrict, Ciamis District (discovered in 1977); Batujaya Temple complex in Batujaya Sub-district and in Cibuaya, Karawang District; also Cangkuang Temple in Cangkuang Village, Leles Sub-district, Garut District. Although facts about when and by whom those temples were built have yet been successfully revealed, experts are optimistic that the discoveries will contribute to years of efforts to disclose the history of kingdoms in West Java.

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