Have Sumatran fishing crews discovered the fabled Island of Gold? | Indonesia

It was a fabled kingdom recognized in historical instances because the Island of Gold, a civilisation with untold wealth that explorers tried in useless to search out lengthy after its unexplained disappearance from historical past across the 14th century. The location of Srivijaya might lastly have been discovered – by native fishing crews finishing up night-time dives on the Musi River close to Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Their extraordinary catches are treasures starting from a lifesize eighth-century Buddhist statue studded with valuable gems – price thousands and thousands of kilos – to jewels worthy of kings.

A fisher prepares to freedive with a hookah respiratory system, and iron chain for a weight belt, within the Musi River at Palembang in the hunt for sunken treasure. {Photograph}: Scott Stemm/Pictures courtesy of Wreckwatch Journal

Dr Sean Kingsley, a British maritime archaeologist, stated: “Within the final 5 years, extraordinary stuff has been developing. Cash of all durations, gold and Buddhist statues, gems, all of the sorts of issues that you just would possibly examine in Sinbad the Sailor and suppose it was made up. It’s truly actual.”

He described the trove as definitive proof that Srivijaya was a “waterworld”, its folks residing on the river like fashionable boat folks, simply as historical texts report: “When the civilisation ended, their picket homes, palaces and temples all sank together with all their items.”

He stated: “Bobbing above snapping crocodiles, the native fishers – the fashionable sea folks of Sumatra – have lastly unlocked the key of Srivijaya.”

Analysis will likely be revealed within the newest challenge of Wreckwatch journal, which Kingsley edits. The Srivijayan research types a part of a 180-page autumn publication which focuses on China and the Maritime Silk Street.


Kingsley famous that, at its top, Srivijaya managed the arteries of the Maritime Silk Street, a colossal market wherein native, Chinese language and Arab items had been traded: “Whereas the western Mediterranean world was coming into the darkish ages within the eighth century, one of many world’s best kingdoms erupted on to the map of south-east Asia. For over 300 years the rulers of Srivijaya mastered the commerce routes between the Center East and imperial China. Srivijaya grew to become the worldwide crossroads for the best produce of the age. Its rulers gathered legendary wealth.”

Ancient and early modern Palembang on Sumatra was largely built in the water and then sank.
Historical and early fashionable Palembang on Sumatra was largely constructed within the water after which sank. {Photograph}: Tropenmuseum, Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

He writes: “From the shallows have surfaced glittering gold and jewels befitting this richest of kingdoms – all the things from instruments of commerce and weapons of warfare to relics of faith. From the misplaced temples and locations of worship have appeared bronze and gold Buddhist collectible figurines, bronze temple door-knockers bearing the demonic face of Kala, in Hindu legend the legendary head of Rahu who churned the oceans to make an elixir of immortality. Bronze monks’ bells and gold ceremonial rings are studded with rubies and adorned with four-pronged golden vajra sceptres, the Hindu image for the thunderbolt, the deity’s weapon of selection.

“Beautiful gold sword handles would have graced the edges of royal courtesans, whereas bronze mirrors and a whole lot of gold rings, many stamped with enigmatic letters, figures and symbols, earrings and gold necklace beads resurrect the splendour of a service provider aristocracy going about its every day dealings, stamping delivery manifests, within the palace complicated.”

Why the dominion collapsed is unknown. Kingsley speculates that it might have been Asia’s reply to Pompeii, falling sufferer to Indonesia’s effervescent volcanoes. “Or did the fast-silting, unruly river swallow town entire?”

Gold and ruby-studded jewellery, 8th-10th centuries, found in the river.
Gold and ruby-studded jewelry, Eighth-Tenth centuries, discovered within the river. {Photograph}: Scott Stemm/Pictures courtesy of Wreckwatch Journal

With out official excavations, proof that might reply such questions will likely be misplaced. Treasures now retrieved by the fishers are merely being offered earlier than archaeologists can correctly research them, ending up with antiquities sellers, whereas the fishers utilizing harmful diving gear and buckets obtain a pittance of the true worth.

“They’re misplaced to the world,” Kingsley warned. “Huge swathes, together with a shocking lifesize Buddhist statue adorned with valuable gems, have been misplaced to the worldwide antiquities market. Newly found, the story of the rise and fall of Srivijaya is dying anew with out being advised.”

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2 thoughts on “Have Sumatran fishing crews discovered the fabled Island of Gold? | Indonesia

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