Short report of the archaeological campaign 2012
Tanah Datar - Short report of the field campaign 2012
The second field campaign in Tanah Datar was aimed to enlarge the excavations on Bukit Gombak where 917m² of excavation surface was already exposed in 2011. The new focus of investigation was the adjacent Bukit Kincir which, also in 2011, was identified as a potential settlement site and burial place obviously closely connected to the settlement of Bukit Gombak. In addition to these large surface investigations on these two mounds, a new small-scale excavation was pursued at Tanah Lua which is situated just opposite Bukit Gombak on the other side of the Selo River. In total, nine areas were opened with an excavation surface of 987m² which yielded 4893 pottery sherds.
The field work from 3 March – 15 April 2012 included:
1. Excavation at Bukit Gombak
In two trenches in the southeastern part of the mound, more house posts and two hearths of ovoid shape were found. The rich material of earthenware sherds and early Ming Dynasty-ceramics (15th-16th centuries) discovered under the street level of a modern road clearly indicate that the settlement of the 13th-16th centuries spread until this area of Bukit Gombak.
2. Excavation at Bukit Kincir
On the northern slope of the adjacent hill, 124 river stones were unearthened in total in the years 2011-12. Most of them are upright stones erected in the direction towards the volcano Gunung Merapi. Two stone alignments describe an “L”-shape and a straight line. All these stones are anthropogenic and mark a burial site, though skeletons did not remain due to the acid soil. Deep pits were found adjacent to the stones as well as fired clay, charcoal remains and some few pottery sherds which may point to burial rituals.
On top of Bukit Kincir a settlement site was identified. Numerous sherds of brittle-ware, metal slag, compact burnt clay, tools of obsidian and river stone indicate household and small-scale industrial activities. The find of one fine celadon vase of the Song or Yuan Dynasty (12th-13th century) and the absence of blue underglaze wares may indicate that this settlement precedes the one on Bukit Gombak.
3. Excavation at Tanah Lua
The settlement site of Tanah Lua was identified in 2011 due to a chance find of numerous potsherds and an adze in the vicinity of the channel of Batu Papahat where one of Ādityavarman’s inscriptions was documented. The site lies northeast of Bukit Gombak at the opposite side of the river Selo. The four trenches yielded paddle-impressed and incised pottery sherds as well as obsidian tools. The brittle and coarse pottery suggest a much earlier date than the Bukit Gombak settlement.
4. Topographical mapping and aerial photography
Topographical mapping of Bukit Gombak and its surroundings was continued by using GPS data. Aerial pictures from up to 60m height were taken by the Octocopter Falcon 01, a UAS (Ultralight Unmanned Aerial System) operated by remote control. These images allow us to define the extension of the former settlement areas and map the landscape features of the extensive study.
5. Geological surveys
During surveys along the Selo River and its tributary, the Silaki River, soil samples were taken in order to investigate potential former gold mining or panning places.
6. International Workshop
An international workshop “Tanah Datar” was organized from 25.-29.3.2012. Prof. Dr. John Miksic (NUS Singapore), Prof. em. Herman Kulke (Universität Kiel), Prof. Dr. Arlo Griffiths (EFEO Jakarta) and Ingki Rinaldi (KOMPAS) were invited to attend this gathering.