Wednesday, December 8

Have Sumatra fishing crews found the legendary Isle of Gold? | Indonesia


IIt was a legendary kingdom known in ancient times as the Isle of Gold, a civilization of untold wealth that explorers tried in vain to find long after its inexplicable disappearance from history around the 14th century. The Srivijaya site may have finally been found by local fishing teams conducting night dives in the Musi River near Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

His extraordinary catches are treasures ranging from a life-size 8th century Buddhist statue studded with precious gems, worth millions of pounds, to jewels fit for kings.

A fisherman prepares to freedive with a hookah breathing system and an iron chain as a weight belt, in the Musi River in Palembang in search of sunken treasure.
A fisherman prepares to freedive with a hookah breathing system and an iron chain as a weight belt, in the Musi River in Palembang in search of sunken treasure. Photograph: Scott Stemm / Images courtesy of Wreckwatch Magazine

Dr Sean Kingsley, a British maritime archaeologist, said: “In the last five years, extraordinary things have come up. Coins from all ages, gold and Buddhist statues, gems, all sorts of things you could read about in Sinbad the Sailor and think it was invented. In fact, it is real. “

He described the treasure as definitive evidence that Srivijaya was a “water world”, its people lived on the river like modern ship people, as recorded by ancient texts: “When civilization ended, their wooden houses, palaces and temples sank along with all His possessions. “

He said: “Floating above the crocodiles, the local fishermen, the modern people of the Sumatra Sea, have finally discovered the secret of Srivijaya.”

The research will be published in the latest issue of Wreckwatch Magazine, which Kingsley edits. Srivijayan’s study is part of a 180-page fall publication that focuses on China and the Maritime Silk Road.

Locator

Kingsley noted that, in its heyday, Srivijaya controlled the arteries of the Maritime Silk Road, a colossal marketplace trading local Chinese and Arab goods: “As the western Mediterranean world entered the Middle Ages in the 19th century VIII, one of the largest kingdoms in the world burst onto the map of Southeast Asia. For more than 300 years, the rulers of Srivijaya dominated the trade routes between the Middle East and Imperial China. Srivijaya became the international crossroads for the best products of the time. Its rulers accumulated legendary riches. “

Ancient and modern Palembang in Sumatra was largely built on water and then sank.
Ancient and modern Palembang in Sumatra was largely built on water and then sank. Photography: Tropenmuseum, National Museum of World Cultures Foundation Collection

He writes: “Out of the shallows have risen gleaming gold and jewels befitting the richest of kingdoms: everything from tools of trade and weapons of war to relics of religion. From the lost temples and places of worship have appeared bronze and gold Buddhist statuettes, bronze door knockers with the demonic face of Kala, in Hindu legend the mythical head of Rahu who churned the oceans to make an elixir of immortality. The monks’ bronze bells and gold ceremonial rings are studded with rubies and adorned with four-pointed gold vajra scepters, the Hindu symbol of lightning, the deity’s preferred weapon.

“Exquisite gold sword handles would have adorned the sides of the royal courtesans, while bronze mirrors and hundreds of gold rings, many stamped with enigmatic letters, figures and symbols, earrings and gold necklace beads resurrect the splendor of a merchant aristocracy in their daily dealings. , stamping shipping manifests, in the palace complex. “

It is unknown why the kingdom collapsed. Kingsley speculates that it may have been Asia’s response to Pompeii, a victim of Indonesia’s bubbling volcanoes. “Or did the sediment-thirsty, rebellious river engulf the entire city?”

Gold and ruby ​​jewels, 8th-10th centuries, found in the river.
Gold and ruby ​​jewels, 8th-10th centuries, found in the river. Photograph: Scott Stemm / Images courtesy of Wreckwatch Magazine

Without official excavations, evidence that can answer such questions will be lost. The treasures now recovered by fishermen are simply sold before archaeologists can properly study them, ending up with the antique dealers, while fishermen using dangerous diving equipment and buckets receive a pittance of real value.

“They are lost to the world,” Kingsley warned. Vast swaths, including an impressive life-size Buddhist statue adorned with gemstones, have been lost in the international antique market. Just discovered, the story of Srivijaya’s rise and fall is dying again untold. “


www.theguardian.com

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