All of a sudden, attention is focused on Borobudur Temple in Magelang. It turns out a new temple has been found close to Borobudur.

This new historical object, in the form of a base of a temple, was found some 5 kilometers to the north of Borobudur Temple, or to be exact, in Samberan hamlet, Ringin Anom village, Tempuran, Magelang regency, Central Java. It was found in the backyard of a house belonging to a local resident, Wahani, 49.

At first, nobody ever thought the mound of earth, which was used by Wahani as material for his brick-making business, had a historical object deep down.

“It is estimated that this archaeological site was of the same period as other andesite buildings, in about the year 900 AD, the legacy of the Hindu era. Our team is now carrying out research into the site,” said chairman of Yogyakarta Archaeological Center, Baskoro Daru Tjahyono, at the location.

He said that apart from the building already discovered, there could be three more buildings, namely perwara temples, around the central temple. However, as of the end of the research, on Sept. 21, 2002, the 10-man team had yet to find the three perwara temples.

The team, however, found three locations assumed to be the corners of the temple. Each corner was about 16 meters (m) from the others. Besides, they also found a stone, a peripih 70 square centimeters (cm) in area and 1 m high.

When excavations reached a depth of about 2.5 m, they found a pile of bricks 11 layers deep, thought to be the foot of the temple. Each brick is 5 cm thick, 60 cm long and 45 cm wide.

“Our team has also found the lower part of the temple in the form of an arrangement of bricks in a vertical position. Generally, under the foundation there was an arrangement of river stones as the base of the building,” Baskoro noted.

Meanwhile, the upper part of the temple was missing because it was located on the surface. Probably the stones forming the upper part of the structure were taken away a long time ago.

Baskoro thought the plot of land now in the yard of a house owned by Wahani and Cahyatin was the meeting point of the rivers Prawu and Tangsi. Close to the two rivers there is a waterspout, Kali Reco.
“The site close to the confluence of rivers used to be chosen as a site for a temple,” he said. Today, he went on, the team is trying to draw up a site plan, determine the temple’s direction and find its entrance door—whether it faces west or east.

It is estimated that this site used to be part of a royal seat area, given that Borobudur Temple used to be the seat of the government. As for the three perwara temples, usually found around a Hindu central temple, they are also thought to be located around the Samberan site.

Baskoro said the team from Yogjakarta Archaelogical Center had studied 48 temples found around the Borobudur Temple. As many as 30 were made from bricks. The remaining 18 were of andersip stone. The site of the new temple, thought to originate in the 9th century, was the 48th discovery.

Earlier, in mid-August this year, the team also carried out excavations and research into the base of a temple found in Menoreh village, Salaman district.

Baskoro said all the temples found around the Borobudur Temple were auxiliary in nature and were put up by a lower-level administration, or the local community. However, these temples were similarly used as prayer houses.

He said although Borobudur Temple used to be located in the administration seat and was built by the Buddhist Syailendra Dynasty, the people were not prohibited from following other religions. That is why some of the temples already discovered are a legacy of the Hindu period.

“This means that the government at that time showed great tolerance toward religious followers. Although the king was a Buddhist, the subjects could profess other religions,” he said.

He cited that the base of a temple discovered in Menoreh was made of bricks and was made up of five levels. It is octagonal in shape and measures 12 m by 12 m.

“If you look at the shape, it is the legacy of the Buddhist period in 9th century A.D. When it was found, the upper level was already buried 1 m deep,” he said.

Locals have it that the temple found in Menoreh is called Wurung Temple as it is not like other temples yet. “Yes, at first there was a plan to build a temple. Later, this plan was discontinued so that the locals have called it Wurung Temple,” he said.

Wahani said that the location where the new temple was discovered was originally a 1 m mound of earth. As the earth has been collected for brick making, the mound is flat now.

Today bamboo trees and secondary crops are grown there. He also said dozens of years ago the locals found two slabs of stone that had been moved to the local mosque.

Features - November 09, 2002
Berchman Heroe, Contributor, Magelang, Central Java