Yogyakarta Prehistoric Legacy Conservation Center (BP3) office has started preparing excavation plans for a recently found archeological structure, believed to be part of an ancient temple, in the compound of the Indonesian Islamic University (UII), Yogyakarta.
The chairman of the center’s protection working group, Indung Panca Putra, said his office was working with the university’s management while waiting for detailed instructions from the Culture and Tourism Ministry culture directorate in Jakarta.
“We will need between two weeks and a month to come up with an excavation plan,” Indung told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Construction workers using a backhoe had come across a stone structure that appeared to be part of an ancient temple, at a depth of about 3 meters, while digging foundations for a new library building at the university on in Sleman regency on Friday.
Subsequent digging around the structure showed a wall-like structure around 50 centimeters in width, with a specific architectural style and relief ornaments on its sides resembling those found at other significant historic Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Indung said, based on his experience and observations of the unearthed parts of the structure, which is about 2.7 meters long and around 40 centimeters deep, the structure is unique because it appears to be comparatively intact, has extremely fine ornaments and is made from a high quality, non-porous andesit stone.
“Only a temple of high importance for its time used this kind of material. This is why the reliefs have remained intact despite their age,” said Indung, pointing at pictures of the structure.
Based on the architectural style and motifs of its ornaments, there is a high possibility the structure was built in the Central Java period, between the 9th and 10th centuries, during the rule of the Ancient Mataram Kingdom, he said.
In particular, motifs of a blossoming lotus, chains of pearls and of creeping plants indicated it was probably from this period, he said.
The exact age and form of the building of which the structure was part could be studied and revealed through excavation, Indung said.
“We are looking at the possibility of conducting a carbon dating to find out the exact age of the structure,” he said.
If the structure is part of an ancient temple of which at least 70 percent of the original structure is intact, then a restoration will be necessary, he said.
Indung revealed that around 2 or 3 kilometers to the south of the site in Palgading hamlet, Ngaglik district, another ancient temple had previously been found and was ready to be excavated.
Also, about 2 kilometers west of the site is a village named Candi, literally meaning temple, which may refer to the temple.