Dieng Ceramics and the Batuhitam/Belitung Shipwreck

Prepared by Team Projek Dieng 2010, Jurusan Arkeologi, Fakultas Ilmu Budaya, and Universitas Gadjah Mada. Translated by Goh Geok Yian and John N. Miksic. Editors: Mahirta Sasongko, Goh Geok Yian, Widya Nayati, and John N. Miksic

June 2010

The largest quantity of Tang ceramics yet recovered from archaeological research in Indonesia has been found on the Belitung or Batuhitam shipwreck which sank in the sea lane from the South China Sea to the Java Sea in about AD 835. On dry land, the largest amount of Tang ceramics in Indonesia has been found in the Palembang region of southeast Sumatra (Manguin). No major deposits of this ware have been reported thus far from Java. No Changsha three-colored ware has been reported from excavations, but Changsha kendis were found by villagers during the construction of a well near Candi S, between Prambanan and the Ratu Boko Plateau. Three-colored Changsha ware is commonly found in the Malay Peninsula, in Kedah and southern Thailand, where it is associated with glass and turquoise fritware from the Near East. Dusunware jars have been discovered at several sites in the Prambanan area, include intact examples which were buried to contain valuable items. Sherds of green-splashed ware, probably from Gongxian, Henan, were found on the surface of the courtyard of Candi Sari, near Prambanan, and in an excavation conducted by the Department of Archaeology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, on the Ratu Boko plateau in the early 1980s. Few of these finds have been published. It is hoped that the report of this brief excavation will encourage other archaeologists to publish more data about finds of Tang dynasty ceramics in Southeast Asia so that their distribution and quantity can be more clearly understood. Only when a substantial body of information on this topic has been accumulated will it be possible to understand the significance of the Batuhitam/Belitung shipwreck.

Supported by an incentive grant from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University; by the Archaeology Unit, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies; and by Jurusan Arkeologi, Fakultas Ilmu Budaya, and Universitas Gadjah Mada. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Nanyang Technological University, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, nor Universitas Gadjah Mada.