Have Sumatran fishing crews found the legendary Golden Island? | Indonesia
IIt was a legendary kingdom known in ancient times as the Golden Island, a civilization of untold riches that explorers unsuccessfully attempted to find long after its unexplained disappearance from history around the 14th century. The Srivijaya site may have finally been found – by local fishing teams doing night dives on the Musi River near Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Their extraordinary catches are treasures ranging from a life-size 8th-century Buddhist statue studded with gems – worth millions of pounds – to jewelry fit for kings.
Dr Sean Kingsley, a British maritime archaeologist, said: “Over the past five years extraordinary things have happened. Coins from all eras, gold and Buddhist statues, gems, all kinds of things you might read in Sinbad the Sailor and think it was invented. It’s actually real.
He described the treasure as definitive proof that Srivijaya was an “aquatic world”, its inhabitants living on the river like modern boat people, just as ancient texts relate: “When civilization ended, their wooden houses , their palaces and temples have all sunk along with all their possessions.
He said: “Flying over the snapping crocodiles, local fishermen – modern Sumatran seafarers – finally unlocked Srivijaya’s secret.”
The research will be published in the latest issue of Review of the wreck, which Kingsley edits. The Srivijayan study is part of a 180-page fall publication that focuses on China and the Maritime Silk Road.
Kingsley noted that in its heyday, Srivijaya controlled the arteries of the Sea Silk Road, a colossal market in which local, Chinese and Arab goods were traded: “As the western Mediterranean world entered the dark ages in the 8th century, the world’s greatest kingdoms erupted on the map of Southeast Asia. For more than 300 years, the rulers of Srivijaya controlled the trade routes between the Middle East and Imperial China. Srivijaya became the international crossroads of the best products of the time. Its rulers have accumulated legendary wealth.
He writes: “Shallows have surfaced glittering gold and jewels worthy of this richest kingdom – everything from tools of trade and weapons of war to relics of religion. From lost temples and places of worship appeared Buddhist figurines in bronze and gold, bronze temple knockers bearing the demonic face of Kala, in Hindu legend the mythical head of Rahu who stirred the oceans to make an elixir of it. ‘immortality. The bronze monk’s bells and gold ceremonial rings are studded with rubies and adorned with four-branched golden vajra scepters, the Hindu symbol of lightning, the deity’s weapon of choice.
“Exquisite gold sword hilts are said to have adorned the sides of royal courtesans, while bronze mirrors and hundreds of gold rings, many of which are stamped with enigmatic letters, numbers and symbols, ringlets of Ears and necklaces of gold pearls resurrect the splendor of a merchant aristocracy going about their daily activities. , stamping shipping manifests, in the palace complex. “
Why the kingdom collapsed is unknown. Kingsley speculates that this may be Asia’s response to Pompeii, a victim of Indonesia’s bubbling volcanoes. “Or did the unruly, rapidly silting river swallow the whole town?”
Without official excavations, the evidence that could answer such questions will be lost. The treasures now recovered by fishermen are simply sold before archaeologists can properly study them, ending up at antique dealers, while fishermen using dangerous scuba gear and buckets receive a paltry sum of true value .
“They are lost to the world,” Kingsley warned. “Vast areas, including a superb life-size Buddhist statue adorned with precious stones, have been lost to the international antiques market. Newly discovered, the story of Srivijaya’s rise and fall once again dies untold.