Tomb Raiders ‘Find Treasure Trove’

JAKARTA ~ Farmers have reportedly sold hundreds of gold artefacts stolen from skeletal corpses unearthed at a newly found ancient burial complex in Indonesia.

Skeletons wearing chains of gold rings around their necks, heads, hands and feet were found in the tombs in a ricefield at Kendal Jaya village, about 60 kilometers east of Jakarta, local media reported.

They were buried with other accessories made of precious stones or gold as well as axes and other pottery articles.

Between 15 and 25 people are estimated to have been buried at the site at a depth of only about 1.5 meters.

Archaeologists expressed concern at reports that hundreds of villagers have been selling gold necklaces and ornaments they found at the site over the past week.

“We only take the gold, because we can sell it for Rp120,000 (US$13) per gram,” local farmer Surip, 29, who has been digging for the past week, said.

Rumasih, 40, said she had collected around 100 grams in the past week.

“I have bought 100 grams this week alone. And there are many other buyers here, so most likely there are hundreds of grams found so far,” she said, adding that she sold the gold at a local market.

“They shouldn’t have sold the findings; there are laws against it,” Peter Ferdinandus of the Ministry of Education’s Archaeological Study said.

“We should quickly investigate this and stop what they’re doing. And if possible get back whatever has been sold off,” he said.

There has been no official announcement on the find and the archaeologist said he only heard of it from the media.

Ferdinandus, who has worked on an archaeological site near the new finds since 1993, said the graves could date from the Buni people who lived around the second century AD, roughly 1,800-1,900 years ago.

“In the Batu Jaya ancient temple site, we found traces of the Buni people. Carbon dating results estimated the complex to be from around the second century AD,” he said.

There are 24 ancient Buddhist temples in the Batu Jaya complex.

Two other findings thought to be from ancient temples were found in Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces recently.

Local residents in Yogyakarta have reported finding statues of Buddha and of monkeys, lions and religious symbols.

An archaeological team working in Magelang district near Yogyakarta has also unearthed a site from the Mataram Kingdom dating back to the ninth century AD.

The site at Losari village is believed to possibly be even bigger than the famous Borobudur Buddhist monument near Yogyakarta city, which also dates back to around the ninth century.

The head of the Yogyakarta ancient heritage office, Manggar Sariayuwati, said the findings were estimated to be dated from the eighth to the ninth century AD.

Java has many ancient sites dating back to the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms that flourished from the seventh century onwards.

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