Yogyakarta Archaeology Center

Ancient boat reveals shipbuilding skills of Java's seafarers

Ancient mariner

By Suherdjoko - The Jakarta Post

Historians have long wondered just how Indonesians in the 6th and 7th centuries built their boats. A recent archaeological discovery sheds some light on the mystery.

In July last year, an ancient boat, measuring 15.6 meters long and 4 meters wide was discovered in Punjulharjo village, Rembang district, in Rembang regency.

A team from the Yogyakarta Archaeology Center made a detailed study of the site, about 200 meters inland from the Java Sea coastline, from June 17 to 26 this year.

The boat, approximately 1,200 years old, was found buried near the Central Java northern coastline, with its bow lying to the west and its stern in the east. Head of Punjulharjo village Nursalim said eight local residents had stumbled across the ancient relic while making a pond.

“The land was originally planted with coconuts, followed by secondary crops,” he told The Jakarta Post. “But as the soil was not fertile enough, they decided to make a pond. That’s when they noticed the buried boat, its main part still in its whole form, as they dug deeper.”

According to the chairman of the Yogyakarta archaeology team, Novida Abbas, the ancient boat is the most complete ever found in Indonesia. “So far we have only got wooden planks and other separate pieces. The discovery in Rembang is 50 percent intact,” Novida said. “We can see the actual shape of the boat and its construction technology.”