Ancient ship replica helps fund Java dig


From The Japan Times

The Indonesian government and a Japanese academic group have recently reconstructed an ancient ship to raise money for an archaeological study on historic ruins in and around Java.

According to the Japan Majapahit Association, the ship has been making port calls in Asian countries since late last month, asking for financial and technical support to excavate the ruins of the Majapahit kingdom, which existed in the area from the 13th to the 16th century.

The ship was built in Madura, part of Indonesia's Java Province, and left there on June 27 for a six-month, 9,000-km journey, before heading back to Jakarta.

It will reach Japan around the middle of July, making its first stop in Kudaka Island, Okinawa Prefecture. The island served as a trading post of the Ryukyu kingdom, which used to govern Okinawa.

The ship will then sail to Naha. The crew will pay Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima a courtesy call before continuing on their journey to Kagoshima, Yokohama, Tokyo and Fukuoka.

The 20-meter ship was reconstructed based on an ancient painting that was on a relief in Java's Borobudur ruins dating back to the eighth century. It is made entirely of wood using materials such as teak and bamboo, and does not use a single nail, according to the group.

The majority of the 15-person crew is Indonesian. Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, a Japanese explorer who canoed across the Indian Ocean, is on board as a project leader.

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