Borobudur ancient lake

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The ancient lake existed on the lower plains around Borobudur.

Borobudur ancient lake is an ancient lake that has been suggested once existed surrounding Borobudur Buddhist monument in Kedu Plain, Central Java, Indonesia. Today the lake had dried-out and formed plains mostly filled with paddy fields, orchards and villages.

Unlike other temples, which were built on a flat surface, Borobudur was built on a bedrock hill, 265 m (869 ft) above sea level and 15 m (49 ft) above the floor of the dried-out paleolake.[1] The lake's existence was the subject of intense discussion among archaeologists in the 20th century; Borobudur was thought to have been built on a lake shore or even surrounded by a lake. In 1931, a Dutch artist and scholar of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, developed a theory that Kedu Plain was once a lake and Borobudur initially represented a lotus flower floating on the lake.[2] Lotus flowers are found in almost every Buddhist work of art, often serving as a throne for buddhas and base for stupas. The architecture of Borobudur itself suggests a lotus depiction, in which Buddha postures in Borobudur symbolize the Lotus Sutra, mostly found in many Mahayana Buddhism (a school of Buddhism widely spread in the east Asia region) texts. Three circular platforms on the top are also thought to represent a lotus petals.[1] Nieuwenkamp's theory, however, was contested by many archaeologists[who?] because the natural environment surrounding the monument is a dry land.

Geologists, on the other hand, support Nieuwenkamp's view, pointing out clay sediments found near the site.[3] A study of stratigraphy, sediment and pollen samples conducted in 2000 supports the existence of a paleolake environment near Borobudur,[1] which tends to confirm Nieuwenkamp's theory. The lake area fluctuated with time and the study also proves that Borobudur was near the lake shore c. 13th and 14th centuries. River flows and volcanic activities shape the surrounding landscape, including the lake. One of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, Mount Merapi, is in the direct vicinity of Borobudur and has been very active since the Pleistocene.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Murwanto, H.; Gunnell, Y; Suharsono, S.; Sutikno, S. and Lavigne, F (2004). "Borobudur monument (Java, Indonesia) stood by a natural lake: chronostratigraphic evidence and historical implications". The Holocene 14 (3): 459–463. doi:10.1191/0959683604hl721rr. 
  2. ^ J.G. de Casparis, "The Dual Nature of Barabudur", in Gómez and Woodward (1981), page 70 and 83.
  3. ^ R.W. van Bemmelen (1949). The geology of Indonesia, general geology of Indonesia and adjacent archipelago, vol 1A, The Hague, Government Printing Office, Martinus Nijhoff. cited in Murwanto (2004).
  4. ^ Newhall C.G., Bronto S., Alloway B., Banks N.G., Bahar I., del Marmol M.A., Hadisantono R.D., Holcomb R.T., McGeehin J., Miksic J.N., Rubin M., Sayudi S.D., Sukhyar R., Andreastuti S., Tilling R.I., Torley R., Trimble D., and Wirakusumah A.D. (2000). "10,000 Years of explosive eruptions of Merapi Volcano, Central Java: archaeological and modern implications". Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 100 (1): 9–50. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(00)00132-3. 

Coordinates: 7°36′25″S 110°12′07″E / 7.607°S 110.202°E / -7.607; 110.202