Bumiayu (Indonesia)

The archaeological component of the Task-force C will focus on the site of Bumiayu, in South Sumatra. The aim is to understand the material organisation of this unique Hindu community, as well as its economic and environmental impact on the region.

The site of Bumiayu is located in the subdistrict of Tanah Abang (district of Penukal Abab Lematang Ilir, South Sumatra, Indonesia). Second largest site attributed to the kingdom of Śrīvijaya, Bumiayu is also an atypical site : Hindu in a Buddhist land, far from any confluence, and a priori in the middle of nowhere.

About fifteen brick structures have been identified there, scattered in the forest and rubber plantations, not far from the banks of the Lematang, a tributary of the Musi River. These structures, of which little more than the base remains, have yielded numerous architectural terracottas (antefixes, fragments of decorative friezes, acroteria, etc.) as well as a few statues. While many pieces are classically crafted – and very close to Javanese art – others, grimacing, hairy, fitted with fangs and decorated with skulls, probably testify to the existence of Tantric cults.

Our research at Bumiayu has three concrete objectives : 1) specify the chronology of the settlement, 2) determine the main lines of the spatial organization of the site, 3) understand the integration of Bumiayu into the regional archaeological landscape. To achieve these objectives, we will approach the site according to three approaches: analysis of the material from previous work (stylistic and ceramological studies), new excavations and paleo-environmental study.

The SRIBUMI project is the fruit of the long-standing collaboration between the EFEO and the Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional (today integrated into the Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional). The mission is co-directed by Agustijanto Indrajaya (BRIN Jakarta) and Véronique Degroot (EFEO Paris), assisted by Sondang Siregar (BRIN Palembang). We also thank the Balai Pelestarian Cagar Budaya of South Sumatra as well as the department of Penukal Abab Lematang Ilir for their support.

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