Tag Archives: ancient civilization

The Timeline of Atlantis Story

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 25 May 2016

From the Timaeus Sections 23e and 24a: “She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action …”

From the Critias Section 108e: “… nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them …”

From the Critias Sections 111b and 111c: “Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years, for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking; and during all this time and through so many changes, there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains, as in other places, but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight.

Based on the above narratives, the timeline of Atlantis story is made as below.

  1. Sometimes before 10,000 years before Solon – the “Athens” was founded
  2. Sometimes before 9,000 years before Solon – the “Egyptians” was founded
  3. Shortly before 9,000 years before Solon – the regions from “Libya” as far as “Egypt” and “Europe” as far as “Tyrrhenia” were conquered by Atlantis
  4. 9,000 years before Solon – a war between Atlantis and the “Athens” took place
  5. 8,000 years before Solon – the Egyptians recorded their sacred registers
  6. Between 9,000 years before Solon and Solon’s time – many great deluges and land subsidence took place
  7. About 600 BC – the Egyptian priests told story about Atlantis to Solon
  8. About 360 BC – Plato wrote Timaeus and Critias

Timeline

 

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Kangdez, an Iranian Myth

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 19 April 2016

Kangdez refers to a mythical, paradise-like fortress in Iranian folklore, means “Fortress of Kang”. In Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Kangdez becomes Gangdez.

The Middle Persian Pahlavi texts mention Kangdez as being founded by Siyavakhsh (Siavosh in the Shahnameh). In the Bundahishn and Dadestan i-Denig, Kangdez was conquered by Kay Khosrow. In Pahlavi Zoroastrian eschatological works, Kangdez is the abode of Peshotan, son of King Vishtasp, and Khwarsheed-chihr  son of Zarathushtra, who will gather their righteous army there before the final battle against Ahriman and his creatures. In Dinkard the previous information is ascribed to the lost Sudgar Nask of the Sassanid Avesta.

In the Shahnameh, Siavosh, having fled from Kay Kavus to Turan, is granted by Turan’s King Afrasiab a pleasant piece of land, where Siavosh erects the castle Kangdez by miraculous power. In other Persian texts, the construction of Kangdez is attributed to Kay Kavus, Kay Khosrow and even Legendary King Jamshid. The region around the castle Kangdez is described as being rich in water and game, and knowing neither the frost of winter nor the heat of summer. It is thirty farsakh square in size (1 farsakh is about 6.2 kilometers). The walled city of Kangdez is also called Kang-e Siavosh, Kang-e Siyavakhsh, Siavoshgerd and Siyavakhshgerd, in different texts. The combination of urban structures and gardens within the city walls, the absence of heat and frost, as well as several (usually seven) walls or buildings made of different materials is a characteristic description of towns in Iranian lore.

According to the Bundahisn, the Kangdez was originally supported on the heads of dews (also in Pahlavi), but was placed on the ground by Kay Khosrow. It had seven ring walls made of gold, silver, steel, brass, iron, crystal, and lapis lazuli (Bundahisn); or stone, steel, crystal, silver, gold, chalcedony and ruby (Pahlavi). It also had hands and feet, and there was eternal spring. Its dimensions were so enormous that it took a man with horse and chariot fifteen days to drive from one of its fifteen gates to the next (Bundahisn), set 700 parasangs (about 3900 kilometers) apart (Pahlavi). Each gate was the height of fifteen men, and the castle itself was so tall that the arrow of the best archers might not reach the top (Pahlavi).

According to the Pahlavi, the Kangdez was, apparently, at first in the other world, but was invited down to the earth by Kay Khosrow, who addressed it as his sister, since it had been made by his father (Siavosh). It came down in eastern Turan, in the area of Siavosh-kerd, and Kay Khosrow settled “the Iranians” in it, who would not leave it until the coming of Pisyotan (Wistasp’s eschatological son) at the end of time. It had a silver tower with golden crenellations, accommodating fourteen mountains and seven rivers in spate. After the end of the Kayanids, Pisyotan will be king and priest in the Kang until the final battles, which he goes out to fight, but then returns and stays until the Renovation.

Siavosh lived in Kangdez until he was cunningly killed by Afrasiab. When he learnt of his father’s murder, Siavosh’s son, Kay Khosrow, pledged vengance. When Kay Khosrow ascended the throne of Iranshahr, he launched a series of expeditions against Turan and Afrasiab, who he eventually defeated. Afrasiab fled to China and from there sails to Kangdez. Kay Khosrow pursues Afrasiab, puts together a naval force, and sets sail for Kangdez which he reaches after a six-month-long voyage, but Afrasiab has already secretly escaped. Kay Khosrow resides in Kangdez for one year and then sails back to Iran through Turanian territory.

Kangdez (2)

In the Sassanid Avesta, the Vourukasha Sea lies in the extreme East from which all waters come with the wind and clouds. It is described as the “deep sea of salt waters”. Reference is made to tides, of the “waters rising up and going down” and of a southern sea into which the Vourukasha empties and from which it refills causing the tidal ebb and flow. In the Vourukasha Sea is Eranvej, where the peak Hukairya is located. On Hukairya is the world spring and world river known as Aredvi Sura Anahita, the source of water for all the “world’s rivers”. Also on this peak grows the sacred “white haoma”.

In latter literature, Siavosh is said to have built Kangdez on the “frontier” of Eranvej. In the Vourukasha Sea is also mentioned the giant ox from whose back was taken the three sacred fires.

In the Dadestan i-Menog i-Khrad, the location of Kangdez is described as “entrusted with the eastern quarter, near to Satavayes on the frontier of Airan-vego”. Satavayes is a star or constellation. According to late Zoroastrian texts, Kangdez was located beyond Khotan (Hotan now) and China, a year’s voyage (six months for Kay Khosrow) to the East by sea from the Baluchi port of Makran. Arab geographer, al-Biruni, identifies Kangdez with another land of Yamakoti, the legendary easternmost town of the Indian oecumene.

The geographers who used Kangdez as the prime meridian belonged to what is known as the al-Balkhi school, after Abu Mashar al-Balkhi, known in the West as Albumasar. During the Middle Ages, Albumasar was the most renowned of Muslim astronomer/astrologers in Europe. His theories of historical cycles linked with the planets influenced many European astrologers including Nostradamus whose key work Revolutions was based on such concepts. Abu Mashar al-Balkhi placed the meridian in the far East, based his geographical canon on Kangdez as 0 degrees longitude. The reference to 0 longitude alludes to the concept that Kangdez is considered the centre of the earth. Al-Kashi in the 15th century places Kangdez at the extreme East or 180 degrees East longitude, and at the equator (0 degrees latitude).

Descriptions of Kangdez mentioned above, including its location at the extreme far east, in a sea (ocean) which could be reached from Iran by sea (a year or six-month’s voyage), situated around the equator, there was no snow, there were two seasons , outside of China, east of India (according to al-Biruni), many rivers, water and mountains, and there was a row of volcanoes ( “giant ox” where from whose back was taken the three sacred fires) indicate that Kangdez is most likely located in Sundaland. The descriptions of the fortress town of Kangdez, among others, consists of rings of walls coated with precious metals and stones, plenty of water and games, there were eternal springs, there was a tower of silver and gold, built by leaders who glorified (Siavosh or Kay Khosrow) with miraculous power, there were rivers and mountains, consists of plains influenced by sea tides, rivers were fed from the mountains and flow towards the south, and was in the marine environment, show that Kangdez approximately has characteristics similar to Atlantis.

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Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

Kumari Kandam

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 8 April 2016

Kumari Kandam refers to a hypothetical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization, located south of present-day India, in the Indian Ocean. Alternative names and spellings include Kumarikkantam and Kumari Nadu. Most Tamil revivalists connect it with the Pandyan kingdom mentioned in the works of literary Tamil and Sanskrit.

The words “Kumari Kandam” first appear in Kanda Puranam, a 15th-century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350 – 1420). Although the Tamil revivalists insist that it is a pure Tamil name, it is actually a derivative of the Sanskrit words “Kumarika Khanda”. The Andakosappadalam section of Kanda Puranam describes the following cosmological model of the universe.

There are many worlds, each having several continents, which in turn, have several kingdoms. Paratan, the ruler of one such kingdom, had eight sons and one daughter. He further divided his kingdom into nine parts, and the part ruled by his daughter Kumari came to be known as Kumari Kandam after her. Kumari Kandam is described as the kingdom of the Earth.

Although the Kumari Kandam theory became popular among anti-Brahmin anti-Sanskrit Tamil nationalists, the Kanda Puranam actually describes Kumari Kandam as the land where the Brahmins also reside, where Shiva is worshipped and where the Vedas are recited. The rest of the kingdoms are described as the territory of the Mlecchas.

Multiple ancient and medieval Tamil and Sanskrit works contain legendary accounts of lands in South India being lost to the ocean. The earliest explicit discussion of a katalkol (“seizure by ocean”, possibly the sea water rise) of Pandyan land is found in a commentary on Iraiyanar Akapporul. This commentary, attributed to Nakkeerar, is dated to the later centuries of the 1st millennium CE. It mentions that the Pandyan kings, an early Tamil dynasty, established three literary academies (sangams). The first two sangams were not located in South India now but in an ancient Tamil country in the south which then sank. The first sangam flourished for 4,400 years in a city called Tenmaturai, attended by 549 poets (including Agastya) and presided over by gods like Shiva, Kubera and Murugan. The second sangam lasted for 3,700 years in a city called Kapatapuram, attended by 59 poets (including Agastya, again). The commentary states that both the cities were “seized by the ocean”, resulting in loss of all the works created during the first two sangams. The third sangam was established in Uttara (North) Madurai, where it is said to have lasted for 1,850 years. The Pandyan capital of Kapatapuram finds mention in the Ramayana and Chanakya’s Arthasastra (ca 4th century BCE).

Nakkeerar’s commentary does not mention the size of the territory lost to the sea. The size is first mentioned in a 15th-century commentary on Silappatikaram. The commentator Adiyarkunallar mentions that the lost land extended from Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the South. It was located to the south of Kanyakumari, and covered an area of 700 kavatam (a unit of unknown measurement). It was divided into 49 territories (natu), classified in seven categories: elu teñku natu (“seven coconut lands”), elu maturai natu (“seven mango lands”), elu munpalai natu (“seven front sandy lands”), elu pinpalai natu (“seven back sandy lands”), elu kunra natu (“seven hilly lands”), elu kunakarai natu (“seven coastal lands”) and elu kurumpanai natu (“seven dwarf-palm lands”).

A mountain range had forty-eight high peaks. Four rivers were originated from Meru Malai: Kumari Aaru, Peru Aaru, Pahruli Aaru and Kanni Aaru. The Pahruli river was excavated to irrigate the mountain valley by the Pandyan King Nediyon. Ruby was mined from the mountain Mani Malai and gold from Meru Malai. It is said that Chinese laborers were employed by the Pandyan King and when they went down the mines they appeared like a huge army of small ants, therefore, they were called “the gold mining ants”.

Other medieval writers, such as Ilampuranar and Perasiriyar, also make stray references to the loss of antediluvian lands to the south of Kanyakumari, in their commentaries on ancient texts like Tolkappiyam. Another legend about the loss of Pandyan territory to the sea is found in scattered verses of Purananuru (dated between 1st century BCE and 5th century CE) and Kaliththokai (6th – 7th  century CE). According to this account, the Pandyan king compensated the loss of his land by seizing an equivalent amount of land from the neighboring kingdoms of Cheras and Cholas.

Kumari Kandam is a Tamil legend about ancient civilization geographically located in the Indian Ocean and then sank into the ocean. Though many Tamil writers do not assign any date to the submergence of Kumari Kandam, resorting to phrases like “once upon a time” or “several thousands of years ago”, but the stories are consistent with the theory of post-glacial been widely acceptable by scientists. This ancient Tamil civilization was located south to Tamil now, or to go to their new land they reached from the south. Vast land which sank in the geological past is not other than Sundaland. Previous theories hypothesized that the vast mainland of Kumari Kandam was located in the south of the Indian subcontinent, but the theory of tectonic plate movement does not support the existence of such land within some thousands years back. It can be presumed that Kumari Kandam is having a relationship with Atlantis or other civilizations thereafter.

The years of the three stages of sangams are summed up to a date between 11,000 and 12,000 years BP, almost the similar number by the Plato’s dating on Atlantis of 11,600 BP, which could relate the Pandyan Kingdom to Atlantis. The mentions of mountain ranges which had forty-eight high peaks, the four rivers originated from the mountains, and the mining of gold and precious stones coincidentally match the Biblical Garden of Eden hypothesized by the author in the southern Kalimantan. The mountain Meru Malai, where there were mountain ranges which had forty-eight high peaks coincidentally match the Malea Mountains in the Ptolemy’s account of Taprobana, in which the author hypothesizes as the Malawi region in Kalimantan on the Schwaner-Muller mountain ranges. These mountain ranges have tens of peaks, to the south lays an expanse of alluvial plain and the origins of four main rivers: Kahayan, Kapuas, Barito and Negara. The Pahruli river excavated for irrigation purposes also coincidentally match the Plato’s description of Atlantis.

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Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

Detecting Ancient Coastal Civilizations from Coral Reefs

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 3 February 2016

Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect the coral polyps. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.

Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae attach to submerged hard surfaces. As the corals grow and expand, reefs take on one of three major characteristic structures – fringing, barrier or atoll. Fringing reefs, which are the most common, project directly from the hard surfaces, forming reefs and expand in horizontal and vertical directions. Barrier reefs also project, but at a greater distance. If a fringing reef forms around a rocky island that subsides completely below sea level while the coral continues to grow upward, an atoll forms.

The Sunda shelf was exposed during the Ice Age, the most recent glacial period occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. It was in the Sundaland that man first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented farming, structure building, seafaring and civilization from 70,000 years ago. People of these civilizations were dependent on water for their mobilizations, so coastal areas were the most suitable places to live and then communities were formed there. They used stones and woods to build houses and other buildings since these materials were abundant in the region.

The Ice Age waned during the period 14,000 – 7,000 years ago that accompanied by sea level rise – as much as 130 m. The costal communities then moved to adjust the changing coastlines and remnants of their buildings were left sank under the sea. Finding the most suitable places to grow, coral reefs were formed on these buildings.

Based on the data of coral reefs and bathymetric maps, the author identifies the probable sites and ages of the ancient civilizations, as shown on the attached map. Note that not all of the coral reef sites were ancient civilizations because coral reefs could form on natural hard surfaces as well.

According to Plato’s narrative, Atlantis ended at around 11,600 years ago. Based on the above study, the location of the capital city of Atlantis is expected at one of the very ancient civilization sites shown on the map. Plato also wrote that the capital city of Atlantis at Solon’s time had been covered by a coral reef so it was not navigable.

Coral Reefs (4)

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Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2016. All rights reserved.

Origins of Post-Deluge Civilizations

<Bahasa Indonesia>

The author conjectures the origins of post-deluge civilizations of Atlantis as shown on the figure below. What did they bring?

Origins of Post-deluge civilizations
Conjecture of origins of post-deluge civilizations

1. Civilization – As written by many authors, humanity was first flourished in Sundaland where ideal climatic conditions for development were found, and it was there that they invented farming, agriculture, trading and civilization.

2. Language – Scholastic belief by etymologists and linguists are positive that all world languages sprang from a common source. Paleo-Sanskrit is one of the theories that it is the ancestor of Sanskrit, Indo-Iranian, Indo-European, Mesoamerican, Sino-Tibetan, Austronesian and all other languages of the world.

3. Myths and doctrines – All the gods and goddesses of various world religions are parallel. Similar myths of great floods, creation and heaven are found all over the world. Brahma, Abram, Avram, Abraham and Ibrahim are believed by some as the same person.

4. Pyramid building – There are hundreds of pyramids still standing all over the world. Cultures separated by oceans, who supposedly never discovered each other’s existence, built these giant triangular structures, aligned them to cardinal directions, encoded within them sacred geometry/math, and used them as sepultures. The Gunung Padang pyramid in West Java, Indonesia dated 23,000 BC or earlier is claimed to be the earliest one.

5. Boat and ship building – Boat and ship have been the instrumental in the development of civilization, affording humanity greater mobility than travel over land, whether for trade, transport or warfare, and the capacity for fishing. Similarities among boat and ship building technology in the Austronesian and other parts of the world were observed. The earliest seaworthy boats may have been developed as early as 40,000 years ago, according to one hypothesis explaining the habitation of Melanesia and Australia.

6. And so on.

Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos, Initiator of Indonesian Atlantis Theory

<Bahasa Indonesia>

By Dhani Irwanto, 28 October 2015
Arysio Nunes dos Santos (1937 – 2005 AD), was a highly qualified engineer with many patents to his credit. He was Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, and had also worked as a geologist and climatologist. He was also an amateur linguist who had mastered Greek and Sanskrit among others. Apart from his professional interests, Santos has written on a diverse range of subjects including Symbolism, Alchemy, the Holy Grail and Comparative Mythology and Religion. His studies led him to conclude that Atlantis and the biblical Eden were the same and more controversially that it had been located in the area of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
Photo credit: Antonio Roberto dos Santos
Professor Santos explains his theory on Atlantis using infinitude of arguments, which range from the strictly scientific (such as geology, linguistics, and anthropology) to the more arcane and occult ones. Being the first one to ever link the catastrophic events of the end of the last Ice Age (11,600 years ago) with the world-wide traditions of the universal flood and the destruction of Atlantis, Professor Santos managed to find a perfect site for the location of the Lost Continent. Such site strives unrivaled as being the most logical one ever proposed, matching all the features mentioned by the Greek philosopher Plato, as well as those cited by other sources.
There is an interesting website promoting his theories and in 2005 his ideas were published in book form titled Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found. Professor Santos passed away just weeks after it was launched. Since then his work has been championed by his son Antonio Roberto dos Santos and Frank Joseph Hoff, who had done research for Santos over a number of years. Much exactly like Plato indicated, Atlantis was a real story. Plato’s Atlantis description and its history were based on facts. Professor Santos studies involved the production of a great number of articles and books that may shed some light to the scientists and scholars that become interested in the “occult” story of Atlantis. Before taken as a legend, for the most sure, being a very real story.
Professor Santos had a completely new theory that Atlantis could not be found because everyone had been looking in the wrong place and that Plato’s work on the subject had been misunderstood. He claims that the true location of Atlantis was in the area of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The Indonesian islands are all that is left of it.
It was in Indonesia and the neighboring lands that man, after emigrating from the semi-deserted savannas of Africa, first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented agriculture and civilization. All this took place during the Pleistocene, the last of the geological eras, which ended a scant 11,600 years ago. Though long by human standards, this is but a brief moment in geological terms.
The Pleistocene – a name which is Greek for “most recent” – is also called Anthropozoic Era or Quaternary Era or, yet, the Ice Age. During the Pleistocene and, more exactly, during the glacial episodes that happened at intervals of about 20 thousand years, sea level was about 100 – 150 meters below the present value. With this, a large coastal strip – the so-called Continental Platform (with a width of about 200 kilometers) – became exposed, forming land bridges that interconnected many islands and regions.
The most dramatic of such exposures took place in the region of Indonesia, precisely the spot where humanity first flourished. The vast expansion of the South China Sea then formed an immense continent, indeed “larger than Asia Minor and Libya put together”. This is, as we shall see, precisely what Plato affirms in his discourse on Atlantis, the Critias.
With the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, the immense glaciers that covered the whole of the northern half of North America and Eurasia melted away. Their waters drained to the sea, whose level rose by the estimated amount of about 100 – 150 meters quoted above. With this rise, Atlantis sunk away and disappeared for good, along with most of its population, which we estimate, based on Plato’s data, at about 20 million people, huge for the epoch in question.
India was one of its nearest and many colonies and that the holy books known as the Vedas and the Hindu religion are based on and in Atlantis. Many other religious ceremonies such as baptism and the others among the seven sacraments of Christianity were memories of Atlantis and how it perished under the seas.
Guanche language was derived from Dravidian and set out a very good case proving this by comparing Dravidian words with those of the Guanche tongue – many are nearly identical. Professor Santos had also written on The Mysterious Origin of the Guanches.
The “Golden Age”, the “Garden of Eden” and the “Paradise” were all memories of Atlantis as it once was and that after its destruction the survivors had to begin again and had lost all their technological advances and were reduced to a very primitive way of living. Atlantis was destroyed following a cataclysmic volcanic eruption and tsunami that shook the entire world.
The Atlantic Ocean was seen by the Greeks as all the water surrounding the continents, which is true. The Indian Ocean, on which the theory focuses, was the real “Ocean of the Atlanteans”. It seems that Avienus placed the Hesperides and the island of Geryon, Erytheia, in this ocean. On the other hand, Avienus and other sources claimed that Erytheia was found in the Orient, thus the connection between the Indian and the “original” Atlantic Ocean.
Troy, Thera, and the capital of the Incas were imitations, re-creations of the original capital of Atlantis. Since Atlantis was a group of islands, its location in the Indian Ocean is possible. The area is part of Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire (a chain of volcanoes), that is still active nowadays. The area is also prone to calamities such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. In conclusion, Plato’s diluvian world could have taken place here.
Another point of interest is the Holy Mountain. Each culture seemed to have one – starting with Golgotha or Mount Calvary from the Bible, or Mount Qaf in Islamism, Mount Olympus in Greece, etc. The sacred mountain idea, just like the capital of Atlantis, points to Atlantis as the source.
Table 1. The Atlantis locations checklist

Atlantis location checklist

Source: atlan.org
The East Indies here refers to Indonesia. On his 32-bullet list, Professor Santos also checked the similarities in the climate of Atlantis and the East Indies. Plato states that Atlanteans had two crops a year and a tropical climate, which matches again the Indonesian climate. It is also known that agriculture was started in the Far East over a ten thousand years ago, which proves the abundance of food needed to sustain a civilization large enough to create an army matched only by Plato’s Atlantean army.
About the Pillars of Heracles – the pillars of Europe (Strait of Gibraltar) were originally called Calpe and Habila, and that the original Pillars were actually the Sunda Strait. The Phoenicians created the confusion between the two different pillars in order to stop the Greeks from reaching the true Paradise.
Atlantis was supposed to lie in the middle of the sea, making the connection between this world and the true continent. Java, Sumatera and the Malay Peninsula are between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, breaking them in two. It can also be a resting spot for travelers from the continent to the Americas.
Professor Santos’ theory refers to the innavigable seas or the mud barrier. The Strait of Gibraltar always had deep waters, while the Indian Ocean around the islands and peninsulas have murky waters.
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Copyright  © 2015, Dhani Irwanto

Sundaland

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 29 September 2015

Sundaland is a bio-geographical region of Southeastern Asia which encompasses the Sunda shelf, the part of the Asian continental shelf that was exposed during the last Ice Age. The last glacial period, popularly known as the Ice Age, was the most recent glacial period within the current Ice Age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. It included the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Kalimantan, Java, and Sumatera and their surrounding islands. The eastern boundary of Sundaland is the Wallace Line, identified by Alfred Russel Wallace as the eastern boundary of the range of Asia’s land mammal fauna, and thus the boundary of the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. The islands east of the Wallace line are known as Wallacea, and are considered part of Australasia. It is worth noting that it is now generally accepted that South East Asia was probably the entry point of modern humans from Africa.

The name “Sundaland” was first proposed by van Bemmelen in 1949, followed by Katili (1975), Hamilton (1979) and Hutchison (1989), to describe the continental core of Southeast Asia forming the southern part of the Eurasian plate. Sundaland is bordered to the west, south and east by tectonically active region characterized by intense seismicity and volcanic activity. The tectonically active zone is effectively a mountain belt in the process of formation, and contain many of the features typically thought to be associated with accretionary orogens: there is active subduction, transfer of material at plate boundaries, examples of collision with buoyant feature on oceanic plates, arcs and continents, and abundant magmatism.

The present orogenic belt is situated at the junction of three major plates: the Eurasian, Indian, Australian and Pacific-Philippine Sea plates. It surrounds Sundaland and stretches from Sumatera to The Philippines via eastern Indonesia. It changes character and width from west to east and is composed of different segments or sutures with different character.

Sundaland

Figure 1 – Sundaland map

The South China Sea and adjoining landmasses had been investigated by scientists such as Molengraaff and Umbgrove, who had postulated ancient, now submerged drainage systems. These were mapped by Tjia in 1980 and described in greater detail by Emmel and Curray in 1982 complete with river deltas, floodplains and back swamps. The ecology of the exposed Sunda Shelf has been investigated by analyzing cores drilled into the ocean bed. The pollens found in the cores have revealed a complex ecosystem that changed over time. The flooding of Sundaland separated species that had once shared the same environment such as the river threadfin (Polydactylus macrophthalmus, Bleeker 1858; Polynemus borneensis, Vaillant 1893) that had once thrived in a river system now called “North Sunda River” or “Molengraaff River”. The fish is now found in the Kapuas River on the island of Kalimantan, and in the Musi and Batanghari rivers in Sumatera.

The last glacial period, popularly known as the Ice Age, was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 11,600 years BP. The most extensive glaciation in the last glacial period was about 21,000 years ago. Scientists consider this Ice Age to be merely the latest glaciation event in a much larger ice age, one that dates back over two million years and has seen multiple glaciations.

During this period, there were several changes between glacier advance and retreat. The maximum extent of glaciation within this last glacial period was approximately 22,000 years BP. While the general pattern of global cooling and glacier advance was similar, local differences in the development of glacier advance and retreat makes it difficult to compare the details from continent to continent.

From the point of view of human archaeology, it falls in the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. When the glaciation event started, Homo sapiens were confined to Africa and used tools comparable to those used by Neanderthals in Europe and the Levant and by Homo erectus in Asia. Near the end of the event, Homo sapiens spread into Europe, Asia, and Australia. The retreat of the glaciers allowed groups of Asians to migrate to the Americas and populate them.

11924236_10206675964050464_8773787452159628519_n

Figure 2 – Post-Glacial sea level

The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief (1,300 ± 70 years) period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 12,800 and 11,600 years BP. The Younger Dryas stadial is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets, although rival theories have been proposed. It followed the Bølling-Allerød interstadial (warm period) at the end of the Pleistocene and preceded the preboreal of the early Holocene. It is named after an indicator genus, the alpine-tundra wildflower Dryas Octopetala.

The Dryas stadials were cold periods which interrupted the warming trend since the Last Glacial Maximum 21,000 years BP. The Older Dryas occurred approximately 1,000 years before the Younger Dryas and lasted about 400 years. The Oldest Dryas is dated between approximately 18,000 and 14,700 BP.

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Figure 3 – Last Glacial temperature measured from the Greenland ice layers

ccsm4-lgm_t2_scycle

Figure 4 – Last Glacial Maximum temperature animation

Sundaland in the Last Glacial PeriodWatch it in youtube

Bathymetry and Topography

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Figure 5 – A map showing the Sundaland around the Last Glacial period (21,000 years BP) generated by the author from the GTOPO30 elevation grids published by USGS. The sea water level was around 120 meter below the present-day sea water level. The flow pattern of the rivers below the present-day sea water level is generated using the same grids and approximations of sea sedimentation, littoral drift, delta formation, meandering, river regime change and river bed movement. The present-day inland rivers are combined. The colors other than blue represent the ground levels. The thin red lines are the present-day shorelines.

Present-day topographic and bathymetric data covering the Sunda Shelf in geographic projection (latitude and longitude) are extracted from the GTOPO30 elevation grids published by USGS. GTOPO30 refers to 30-arc second (approximately 0.9 km near equator) horizontal latitude and longitude spatial resolution of digital elevation model (DEM) file format. Other similar grids like GEBCO_8 published by IHO and IOC/UNESCO, and ETOPO1 published by NOAA are also used as references. A color scheme is applied to the DEM in which areas below -120 m are represented by blue colors so that the Last Glacial Maximum coastlines can be easily identified.

Several assumptions are made in the analytical procedures (Sathiamurthy et al, 2006). First, it is assumed that the current topography and bathymetry of the region approximate the physiography that existed during the span of time from 21,000 years BP to present. However, because sedimentation and scouring processes have affected the bathymetry of the Sunda Shelf over the last 21,000 years (Schimanski and Stattegger, 2005), we know that this is only an approximation. Thus, it should be emphasized that the depth and geometry of the Sunda Shelf and the existing present-day submerged depressions do not reflect past conditions precisely.

Second, it is assumed that the present-day sea bed are likely to have existed during the Last Glacial Maximum and have not resulted from seabed scouring by currents, limestone solution, or tectonic movement-possibilities that were pointed out by Umbgrove (1949) as perhaps taking place during early post-Pleistocene transgression. In the case of tectonic movement, Geyh et al (1979) mentioned that the Sumatera Strait was tectonically stable at least during the Holocene. Furthermore, Tjia et al (1983), state that the Sunda Shelf has been largely tectonically stable since the beginning of the Tertiary. Nevertheless, Tjia et al (1983) indicated that sea level rise in this region may be attributed to a combination of actual sea level rise and vertical crust movement. Hill (1968) in reference to earlier work done by Umbgrove (1949), suggested the possibility of limestone solution as a mode of depression formation (as in the case of the Lumut pit off the coast of Perak, Malaysia), and gave an alternative explanation, which was of tectonic origin.

Sea bed sedimentation data are rarely available but approximation of sedimentation process is made in generating the topographic and bathymetric regional map of Sundaland. In similar conditions, other processes like littoral drift, delta formation, meandering, river regime change and river bed movement are also approximated and incorporated on the maps. Ancient lakes are reconstructed from the DEM and any geological history that exist. Small and insignificant islands are removed.
Along with the topographic and bathymetric map, shorelines at certain sea water levels, ground surface slope, river watersheds and flow pattern of rivers are also generated and place them in different layers.

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Figure 6 – A map showing the Sundaland major watersheds around the Last Glacial Maximum period (21,000 years BP) generated by the author using the same method as in the previous figures. River names are given referring to the sea, strait, gulf, island or present day river names occupied by the watersheds.

Vegetation

Cannon et al (2009) have done research on the distribution of vegetation in  Sundaland during the Last Glacial Maximum using explicit spatial model coupled with the evidence of geography, paleoclimatology and geology. The vegetation is divided into three types, namely coastal/swamp, lowland and highland evergreen rainforests.

Coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests experienced the most dynamic biogeographic history of the 3 forest types examined. At the peak of the Last Glacial Maximum, when sea levels fell below the shelf margin, mangroves were restricted to a very narrow belt along coastlines. However, many coastal swamp taxa would have maintained widespread inland distributions on poorly drained interfluves on watershed or kerapah peats, and in kerangas vegetation, which share many taxa with coastal peat swamp forests. As the shelf began to flood, especially from 11,000 to 9,000 BP, the coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests would have experienced a dramatic but relatively brief expansion. Since about 8,000 BP, coastal forests have roughly remained in their present positions, with the extent of mangroves, freshwater alluvial and peatswamps being determined by the patterns of progradation of individual river deltas following the Holocene transgression. The coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests also experienced a sudden and complete geographic relocation over hundreds of kilometers during the flooding, as the coastline retreated quickly across the shelf, coupled with an equally dramatic change in core area from minimal at the Last Glacial Maximum to maximal at the time of the flooding of Sundaland.

The total area and core area of the lowland evergreen rainforests were substantially greater than current conditions through the vast majority of the last glacial cycle, with the presence of an open corridor of seasonal forest having relatively little impact. The total area and core area of the highland evergreen rainforests experienced a gradual upward trend through the last glacial cycle, with a fairly dramatic peak at the Last Glacial Maximum. In general, the distribution of the highland evergreen rainforests was very sensitive to the interaction between temperature change and vegetation lapse rate.

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Figure 7 – Vegetation map of Sundaland at the Last Glacial Maximum based on historical data from Bird et al (2005) with several adjustments, for open (left) and closed (right) corridors  (Cannon et al, 2009)

Last Glacial Vegetation of Sundaland

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Present Conditions

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Figure 8 – Main active faults in Sundaland at the zone of convergence of the plates of Sunda, Eurasia, Philippines, India and Australia. Smaller plates of Timor and Banda Sea (part of Sunda), Maluku (part of Philippines) and Andaman (part of Eurasia) are also shown. Large arrows represent absolute motions of plates. Red triangles are the volcanoes.

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Figure 9 – Plots of major earthquake occurrences ever recorded and their intensities in Mw scales. Note that Sundaland is encircled by earthquake prone lines. (Source: USGS)

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Figure 10 – Plots of tsunami sources ever recorded and their created water heights. Note that tsunamis occurred frequently in Banda Sea and Sulawesi Sea that could affect the inner islands. (Source: NOAA)

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Figure 11 – Plots of volcano eruptions ever known and their Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI). Note for large scale Tambora eruption in 1815 and frequent Krakatau eruptions being the largest in 1883. (Source: NOAA)

Human Migration Theories

According to the previous theory, the ancestors of the modern day Austronesian populations of the Malay archipelago and adjacent regions are believed to have migrated southward, from the East Asia mainland to Taiwan, and then to the rest of Maritime Southeast Asia. However, recent finding points to the now-submerged Sundaland as the possible cradle of Asian population: thus the “Out of Sundaland” theory.

Tracing the Cradle of Civilizations in Sundaland - 08

Figure 12 – “Out of Taiwan” Model

Oppenheimer locates the origin of the Austronesians in Sundaland and its upper regions. Genetic research reported in 2008 indicates that the islands which are the remnants of Sundaland were likely populated as early as 50,000 years ago, contrary to a previous hypothesis (Bellwood and Dizon, 2005) that they were populated as late as 10,000 years ago from Taiwan.

A study from Leeds University and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution in 2008, examining mitochondrial DNA lineages, suggested that humans had been occupying the islands of Southeast Asia for a longer period than previously believed. Population dispersals seem to have occurred at the same time as sea levels rose, which may have resulted in migrations from the Philippine Islands to as far north as Taiwan within the last 10,000 years. The population migrations were most likely to have been driven by climate change – the effects of the drowning of an ancient continent. Rising sea levels in three massive pulses may have caused flooding and the submerging of the Sunda continent, creating the Java and South China Seas and the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia and the Philippines today. The changing sea levels would have caused these humans to move away from their coastal homes and culture, and farther inland throughout Southeast Asia. This forced migration would have caused these humans to adapt to the new forest and mountainous environments, developing farms and domestication, and becoming the predecessors to future human populations in these regions.

The 2009 research and study by the HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium, conducted within and between the different populations in the Asia continent, showed that genetic ancestry was highly correlated with ethnic and linguistic groups. There was a clear increase in genetic diversity from northern to southern latitudes. The study also suggested that there was one major inflow of human migration into Asia arising from Southeast Asia, rather than multiple inflows from both southern and northern routes as proposed before. This indicates that Southeast Asia was the major geographic source of East Asian and North Asian populations. East Asians have mainly originated from South East Asian populations with minor contributions from Central-South Asian groups. The Taiwan aborigines are derived from Austronesian populations. This stands in contrast to the suggestion that this island served as the ancestral “homeland” for Austronesian speaking populations throughout the Indo-Pacific.

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Figure 13 – Colored arrows depict the increasing genetic diversification of humans after they migrated eastward along what is now India’s coast and split into numerous genetically distinct groups that moved across Southeast Asia and migrated north into East Asia (Source: HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium)

In 2012, Stephen Oppenheimer pointed out that the genetic, climatic and archaeological evidence logically suggests a single southern exit of modern human from Africa to Sundaland. All non-African groups today are descended from this exit, with the exception of some autosomes (7% or less) apparently derived from admixture with several archaic non-African groups. Whether this exit predated the Toba eruption is currently unclear. A series of founding bottlenecks characterized rapid migration around the Indian Ocean coast to Borneo and Bali at the tip of the Sunda shelf. Then, a sea-level low stand permitted multiple colonizations of the Sahul, followed by prolonged isolation until the post-glacial period, during which maritime gene flow from island southeast Asia recommenced. These last migrations were limited into Australia and substantial into Melanesia. Climate and access to fresh water were crucial determinants of routes and dates for windows of opportunity.

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Figure 14 – Map showing single southern route out of Africa and beachcomber arc route from the Red Sea along the Indo-Pacific coast to Australia, including likely extensions to China, Japan and New Guinea. Vegetation and sea level shown as at Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). (Oppenheimer, 2012)

Watch the Jurney of Mankind by The Bradshaw Foundation.

In 2012, Jinam et al determined 86 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) complete genome sequences in four indigenous Malaysian populations, together with a reanalysis of published autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data of Southeast Asians to test the plausibility and impact of those migration models. The three Austronesian groups (Bidayuh, Selatar, and Temuan) showed high frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups, which originated from the Asian mainland 30,000–10,000 BP, but low frequencies of “Out of Taiwan” markers. Principal component analysis and phylogenetic analysis using autosomal SNP data indicate a dichotomy between continental and island Austronesian groups. They argue that both the mtDNA and autosomal data suggest an “Early Train” migration originating from Indochina or South China around the late-Pleistocene to early-Holocene period, which predates, but may not necessarily exclude, the Austronesian expansion.

Karafet et al (2014), through a study of Y-DNA supported the hypothesis of a Southeast Asian/Oceanian center for the diversification of Oceanian K-haplogroup lineages and underscore the potential importance of Southeast Asia as a source of genetic variation for Eurasian populations. The phylogenetic structure of haplogroup K-M526 shows consecutive branching events (M526, P331 and P295), which appear to have rapidly diversified. With the exception of P-P27, all of the descendant lineages are located today in Southeast Asia and Oceania: K-M526*, K-P402, K-P261 and NO are the lineages most closely related to haplogroup K-P331, K-P397 is the sister lineage of P-P295 and the P-P295* lineages are the closest relatives of haplogroup P-P27. This pattern leads to hypothesize a southeastern Asian origin for P-P295 and a later expansion of the ancestor of subhaplogroups R and Q into mainland Asia. Although K-M526 was previously characterized by a single polytomy of eight major branches, the phylogenetic structure of haplogroup K-M526 is now resolved into four major subclades (K2a–d). The largest of these subclades, K2b, is divided into two clusters: K2b1 and K2b2. K2b1 combines the previously known haplogroups M, S, K-P60 and K-P79, whereas K2b2 comprises haplogroups P and its subhaplogroups Q and R.

Interestingly, the monophyletic group formed by haplogroups R and Q, which make up the majority of paternal lineages in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, represents the only subclade with K2b that is not geographically restricted to Southeast Asia and Oceania. Estimates of the interval times for the branching events between M9 and P295 point to an initial rapid diversification process of K-M526 that likely occurred in Southeast Asia, with subsequent westward expansions of the ancestors of haplogroups R and Q. More interestingly, ancient DNA evidence suggests that haplogroup R1b – the current dominant lineage in western Europe – did not reach high frequencies until after the European Neolithic period as given in Lacan et al and Pinhasi et al.

Tatiana 1

Figure 15 – Phylogeny of haplogroup K (Karafet et al, 2014)

Karafet

Figure 16 – The spread of descendants of haplogroup K2 (Karafet et al, 2014)

There has been a long-standing debate concerning the extent to which the spread of Neolithic ceramics and Malay-Polynesian languages in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) were coupled to an agriculturally driven demic dispersal out of Taiwan 4,000 years ago. Brandão et al in a paper published by the Human Genetics in 2016 addressed this question using founder analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region sequences to identify major lineage clusters most likely to have dispersed from Taiwan into ISEA, proposing that the dispersal had a relatively minor impact on the extant genetic structure of ISEA, and that the role of agriculture in the expansion of the Austronesian languages was therefore likely to have been correspondingly minor. They showed that, in total, about 20% of mtDNA lineages in the modern ISEA pool result from the “Out-of-Taiwan” dispersal, with most of the remainder signifying earlier processes, mainly due to sea-level rises after the Last Glacial Maximum. Every one of these founder clusters previously entered Taiwan from China, 6,000 – 7,000 years ago, where rice farming originated, and remained distinct from the indigenous Taiwanese population until after the subsequent dispersal into ISEA.

In 2016, Soares et al from the University of Minho in Portugal as published in the Human Genetics showed a series of much more complicated events. mtDNA and Y-chromosome found in the Pacific Islands have existed in the islands of Southeast Asia much earlier than 4,000 BC, which raises serious doubt on the theory of “Out-of-Taiwan”. They argue that the landscape and the changing sea level about 11,500 years ago led to a significant expansion from Indonesia 8,000 years ago. This expansion, which is the team’s discovery, showed that the population in the whole of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands share the same mtDNA and Y-chromosome. The results of the study by the team also showed minor wave of migration that may lead to the spread of Austronesian languages.

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Figure 17 – Outline of maternal lineages involved in the main human
migrations in the region of Southeast Asia and Taiwan (Soares et al, 2016)

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Figure 18 – A map showing the locations of pre-historic remains, which may consist of human skeleton, potteries, metal works, cave painting, burial sites, stone tools, megalithic stones and step pyramids. Note that the remains are densely found in Java, Bali, southern Sumatera, southern Sulawesi and southern Kalimantan. No undersea remain has been investigated.
(Sources: various, collected by the author)

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Figure 19 – “Out of Sundaland” Model

Mass Dispersal from Sundaland at the End of the Younger Dryas Period

A mass dispersal from Sundaland was happened around the Younger Dryas period (approximately 12,800 – 11,600 years ago), most probably the end of the period.  It was caused by an unknown mega catastrophe as  detected from the observation data, a sharp decline of the world population, emergence of many civilizations and the people memories (legends, myths, tales) around the world. The dispersal is also detected by the genetic studies.

Ideal climatic conditions and natural resources for development were found in Sundaland. After migrating from the semi-deserted savannas of Africa, man first found a place where food was abundant and it was there that they invented farming, agriculture, trading and civilization, which made humanity first flourished. All this took place during the Last Glacial period, where the sea level was as low as 120 meters (400 feet) below the present value that caused a vast land of Sundaland to expose.

The glaciers started to retreat and the sea levels continued to rise gradually from the peak levels around 19,000 to about 5,500 years ago. Cracks in the earth’s crust as the weight of the ice shifted to the seas set off catastrophic events. Rapid coastal population loss was compounded by super tsunami waves and super quakes on tropical coasts with flat continental shelves of Southeast Asia.  The floods drowned the coastal cultures and all the flat continental shelves, and wiped out many populations. As the sea rolled in, there was a mass migration from the sinking continent at the end of the Younger Dryas period (approximately 11,600 years ago), one of the most well-known examples of such abrupt change.

Recent genetic studies show that there has been a sharp decline in the population of the world beginning in the early Holocene, or the end of the Younger Dryas period, causing a bottle neck of human population.  There were population turnovers from Southeast, East and South Asia to Europe, Near East and the Caucasus, suggesting that the end of the Younger Dryas period caused the refugium of those populations to migrate and establish new civilizations. From the archaeological data, the end of Younger Dryas was also marked by the emergence of many civilizations around the world.

The Younger Dryas disasters are also documented as legends, myths or tales in almost every region on Earth, observable with tremendous similarities. They are common across a wide range of cultures, extending back into Bronze Age and Neolithic prehistory. The overwhelming consistency among legends and myths of flood and the repopulation of man from a flood hero similar to the Noah Flood are found in distant parts of the Earth. The myths similar to the Garden of Eden, Paradise or Divine Land echo among the populations around the world. Memories of their origin are documented in their legends, such as the stories of Atlantis, Neserser, Land of Punt, Land of Ophir, Gilgamesh, Kumari Kandam, Kangdez, Tollan and Taprobana. Those indicate that they were derived from a common origin.

With a bulk of collected archaeological and genetic studies as well as legends, myths and tales, the author makes an attempt to reassemble the possible connections of the evidence to obtain the pattern of the population dispersal using a “Potsherd Model”, as shown on the figure below.

Tracing the Cradle of Civilizations in Sundaland - 28

Figure 20 – Mass dispersal from Sundaland at the end of the Younger Dryas period

Riverine Civilizations

Rivers supplied a continuous if not always dependable flow and supply of water for transportation, farming and human consumption. These rivers along with climate, vegetation, geography, and topography shaped the development of the early riverine civilizations. However, while people of these civilizations were dependent on the rivers, the rivers also inspired new technological, economic, institutional, and organizational innovations and developments. Riverine cultures were the cradle of maritime civilizations which later developed into Austronesian-speaking people.

Large rivers with fertile lands existed in Sundaland during the Ice Age. It is logical that the civilizations developing in this region began at these riverines. Since the seas were inseparable from their lives, their development until fully developed must happen at the estuarines. Sea level rise and frequent floods or tsunamis caused some of them to move to higher ground, on mountains. Rivers are the only means of transportation existed at that time, so they moved along the rivers in the upstream direction. Ancient civilizations survive to this day have been observed and it turns out that they are living in regions upstream of major rivers.

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Figure 21 – Riverine civilizations in Sundaland

Ancient riverine cultures are evidenced by rock paintings spread allover the archipelago. Most of the paintings are estimated more than 10,000 years old. Some of the paintings depict boats. These suggest that they already had the technology from the very ancient time. The ones in Maros were carbon dated to about 40,000 years old.

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Figure 22 – Rock paintings depicting boats

Domestications

Recent studies have revealed the presence of several agricultural crops and animals domesticated in Sundaland and its surroundings and they are closely related to population distributions from Sundaland. However, these studies are limited to discoveries available at this time only. The domestications are inseparable from the water environments, either rivers or seas which met at the estuaries. Thus it can be assumed that the early civilizations were centered at the estuarines, as discussed before.

However, most Ice Age estuarines in Sundaland are presently under the sea. We can presume that the evidence of the oldest domestications are not discovered due to their locations under the sea and those are discovered today are on higher grounds which are so much younger. Additionally, Sundaland has had frequent volcanic activities resulted in thick layers of volcanic ash, to become serious obstacles to discover such archaeological evidence.

Coconuts

DNA analysis of more than 1,300 coconuts from around the world by Olsen et al (2011) reveals that the coconut was brought under cultivation in two separate locations, one in the Pacific basin and the other in the Indian Ocean basin (Baudouin et al, 2008; Gunn et al, 2011). What’s more, coconut genetics also preserve a record of prehistoric trade routes and of the colonization of the Americas. In the Pacific, coconuts were likely first cultivated in island Southeast Asia, meaning the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and perhaps the continent as well. In the Indian Ocean the likely center of cultivation was the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and the Laccadives. The Pacific coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by ancient Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa.

Read also: Coconuts

Rice

In the book Eden in the East (1998), Stephen Oppenheimer claims that the domestication of rice was not in China but in the Malay Peninsula, ca 9,000 years ago. Here grains of rice were found from the eras between 7,000 and 5,000 BC on the Malay Peninsula. This time period is several years older than the arrival of the Austronesian people from Taiwan who were thought to have brought farming technologies to Southeast Asia.

There are four main varieties of rice: japonica, a short-grained rice grown in Japan, Korea, and eastern China; indica, a long-grained variety common in India, Pakistan, and most of Southeast Asia; aus, grown primarily in Bangladesh; and aromatic rice, which includes more exotic varieties such as India’s basmati and Thailand’s jasmine. Scientists have primarily focused on indica and japonica because archaeological findings suggest both have a long history of cultivation. Researchers generally agree that humans living in what is now southern China domesticated japonica between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago. The precise locale within southern China is still debated.

Experts are still debating the origin of indica. Those claiming one domestication event believe indica emerged from crosses between japonica and wild species as rice cultivation spread through Asia. Those arguing for two separate domestication events generally agree that japonica emerged in southern China, but they contend that indica was independently domesticated in a region straddling India and western Indochina. The new analysis, from a group led by Terence Brown of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, adds a third and separate domestication locale, for aus, in a region stretching from central India to Bangladesh.

However, research on the origins of rice cultivation is still ongoing. It can be presumed that the evidence of the oldest rice cultivation can not be found because it is located under the sea and the evidence available today are on higher lands which are so much younger. Evidence on the mainland are also not necessarily reflecting the real origins for Sundaland area is generally covered by very thick volcanic ash.

Bananas

Bananas (Musa spp) are believed to have originated more than 10,000 years ago and some scientists believe they may have been the world’s first fruit. The bananas we enjoy today are far better than the original wild fruit which contained many large, hard seeds and not much tasty pulp. There was a cross breeding of two varieties of wild bananas, the Musa acuminata and the Musa baalbisiana. From this process, some bananas became seedless and more like the bananas we eat today.

The first bananas are thought to have grown in the region that includes the Malaya Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea. From here, traders and travelers took them to India, Africa and Polynesia. There were references to bananas from 600 BC when Buddhist scriptures, known as the Pali Canon, noted Indian traders travelling through the Malaysian region had tasted the fruit and brought plants back with them. In 327 BC, when Alexander The Great and his army invaded India, he discovered banana crop in the Indian Valleys. After tasting this unusual fruit for the first time, he introduced this new discovery to the Western world.

By 200 AD bananas had spread to China. According to the Chinese historian Yang Fu, bananas only ever grew in the southern region of China. They were never really popular until the 20th Century as they were considered to be a strange and exotic alien fruit. Bananas began to be developed in Africa about 650 AD.

It is thought that traders from Arabia, Persia, India and Indonesia distributed banana suckers around coastal regions of the Indian Ocean (but not Australia) between the 5th and 15th centuries. Portuguese sailors discovered bananas in West Africa and established banana plantations in the 15th century off the coast, in the Canary lslands. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, suckers were traded in the Americas and plantations were established in Latin America and the Caribbean. Banana plants first arrived in Australia in the 1800s.

Sugarcane

The people of New Guinea were probably the first to domesticate sugarcane (Saccharum spp), sometime around 8,000 BC. However, the extraction and purifying technology techniques were developed by people who were living in India. After domestication, its cultivation spread rapidly to Southeast Asia and southern China. India, where the process of refining cane juice into granulated crystals was developed, was often visited by imperial convoys (such as those from China) to learn about cultivation and sugar refining. By the sixth century AD, sugarcane cultivation and processing had reached Persia; and, from there that knowledge was brought into the Mediterranean by the Arab expansion.
Spanish and Portuguese exploration and conquest in the fifteenth century carried sugar south-west of Iberia. Henry the Navigator introduced cane to Madeira in 1425, while the Spanish, having eventually subdued the Canary Islands, introduced sugar cane to them. In 1493, on his second voyage, Christopher Columbus carried sugarcane seedlings to the New World, in particular Hispaniola.

Chili Peppers

The most recent research shows that chili peppers (Capsicum spp) were domesticated more than 6,000 years ago in Mexico, in the region that extends across southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, and were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central and parts of South America. However, chili peppers are mentioned in the Siva Purana and Vamana Purana, from India, dated to the sixth to eighth centuries CE (Banerji 1980). The Sanskrit name marichi-phalam was applied to both Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens (Nadkarni, 1914). The plant and its fruit are naturalistically pictured in stone carvings at a Shiva temple at Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu (Gupta, 1996). A very explicit rendering of chili pepper plants is found on a wall panel of a temple ruin in the garden at the temple at Prambanan, Java. The panel is at least a thousand years old.

Maize

Research suggest that maize (Zea mays) was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. However, field investigations have discovered odd sorts of maize growing in Asia (especially Sikkim Primitive in the remote Himalaya and ‘waxy’ varieties from Myanmar all across China to the Korean peninsula), mostly away from coastal areas where 16th-century Iberian sailors are supposed to have first introduced maize. The characteristics and distribution of these grains cannot be explained in terms of post-Columbian introduction, because waxy varieties were not known in the Americas. Johannessen et al (1998a, 1989a) were the first to document extensively that maize ears were represented in sculptures of ears of corn – hundreds of them – on original temple walls in Karnataka State, southern India. This art usually dates from the 11th to the 13th centuries AD, but some representations are much older. Four Sanskrit words for maize have been recorded, while the Garuda Purana, as well as the Linga Purana texts of the 5th century AD refer to maize. From near Zhenghou, Henan province, China, comes a ceramic effigy of maize, dated about 2,000 BP, that was found in an excavation of an imperial tomb of the Han Dynasty. A bas-relief showing maize is found on a wall panel of a temple ruin in the garden at the temple at Prambanan, Java, next to the panel showing chili pepper plant, at least a thousand years old.

Chickens

The results from the ancient DNA analyses carried by Alice A Storey et al in 2012 of 48 archaeologically derived chicken bones provide support for archaeological hypotheses about the prehistoric human transport of chickens. Haplogroup E mtDNA signatures have been amplified from directly dated samples originating in Europe at 1,000 years ago and in the Pacific at 3,000 years ago indicating multiple prehistoric dispersals from a single Asian center. These two dispersal pathways converged in the Americas where chickens were introduced both by Polynesians and later by Europeans.

Research conducted by Martin Johnson at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Linköping University, Sweden in 2015 shows chickens were first domesticated from a wild form called red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), a bird that still runs wild in most of Southeast Asia, likely hybridized with the grey junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii). That occurred probably about 8,000 years ago. The research suggests there may have been multiple origins in distinct areas of South and Southeast Asia, including North and South China, Thailand, Burma and India.

Dogs

Research conducted by Matthias Oskarsson at the School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden in 2012 based on Y-chromosomal DNA sequence suggest that dogs in Asia south of Yangtze River has the highest genetic diversity and was founded from a large number of wolf founders. He emphasized that early dog dispersal is tightly coupled to human history with the dog brought along as a cultural item. He has for the first time investigated the dog dispersal into Polynesia and Australia and their data can be used as evidence for a more complex settlement of Polynesia than earlier indicated from archaeological and linguistic studies.

Peter Savolainen of the KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and Ya-Ping Zhang of the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China in 2015 simultaneously suggest that humans first domesticated dogs in Southeast Asia 33,000 years ago, and that about 15,000 years ago a subset of dog ancestors began to migrate toward the Middle East and Africa. Their movement was likely inspired by that of their human companions, but it’s also possible that they began their journey independently. One possible motivating factor could have been melting glaciers, which started retreating approximately 19,000 years back. It wasn’t until 5,000 years after they first began spreading out from Southeast Asia that dogs are thought to have reached Europe. Before finally making their way to the Americas, one of these groups doubled-back to Asia where they interbred with dogs that had migrated to northern China.

Pigs

Archaeological evidence indicates that pigs were domesticated at least twice, once in China’s Mekong valley and once in Anatolia, the region in modern-day Turkey between the Black, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas. For another, a 2007 study of genetic material from 323 modern and 221 ancient pigs from western Eurasia suggests that pigs first came to Europe from the Near East, but that Europeans subsequently domesticated local wild boar, which seemed to replace those original pigs.

Laurent Frantz, now a bioinformaticist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, carried out sophisticated computer analyses of 103 whole genomes sequenced from wild boars and domesticated pig breeds from all over Europe and Asia, published in Nature Genetics in 2015, indicating that that pigs were indeed originated in those two places. But Europe’s modern pigs are mongrel mixes derived from multiple wild boar populations. Some of their genetic material does not match any wild boar DNA collected by the researchers, so they think that at least some ancestors came from either an extinct group or from another group in central Eurasia. This anomaly suggests that pigs were herded from place to place, where they mated with this “ghost” population. Moreover, at one point – most likely in the 1800s, when Europeans imported Chinese pigs to improve their commercial breeds – a little Asian pig blood entered the mix.

Kalimantan Elephants

The origin of Kalimantan elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) is controversial. Two competing hypotheses argue that they are either indigenous, tracing back to the Pleistocene, or were introduced, descending from elephants imported in the 16th – 18th centuries. Taxonomically, they have either been classified as a unique subspecies or placed under the Indian or Sumatran subspecies. Prithviraj Fernando et al in 2003 have conducted research comparing DNA of Kalimantan elephants to that of elephants from across the range of the Asian elephant. They find that Kalimantan’s elephants are genetically distinct, with molecular divergence indicative of a Pleistocene colonization of Kalimantan and subsequent isolation about 300,000 years ago. When the sea level rise in the Last Glacial Age separated the Kalimantan Island from the Asian mainland, the elephants were isolated in the island from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatera and later evolved to become a distinct Asian elephant sub-species. The now extinct Javan elephants (Elephas maximus sondaicus) those once inhabited Java are identical to the Kalimantan elephants.

Sundaland Theories of Atlantis

Some authors have specifically claimed a clear link between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis. The Sunda Sub-Oceanic Plain is large enough to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Its topography, climate, flora and fauna together with aspects of local mythologies, all permit a convincing case to be made to support this idea.

Thomas Stamford Raffles who was the Lieutenant-Governor of British Java and the founder of Singapore was perhaps the first to suggest a link between Atlantis and Indonesia in his book, The History of Java, published in 1817. A prominent theosophist CW Leadbeater also suggested those link in his book, The Occult History of Java, published in 1951. Other investigators have written on the prehistory of the region of whom the best known is probably Stephen Oppenheimer, in 1998, who firmly locates the Garden of Eden in this region, although he makes little reference to Atlantis. More recently, Robert Schoch, in collaboration with Robert Aquinas McNally, wrote a book in 2003 in which they suggest that pyramid building may have had its origins in a civilization that flourished on parts of Sundaland that are now submerged.

The first book to specifically identify Sundaland with Atlantis was written by Zia Abbas, in his book Atlantis: The Final Solution, published in 2002. However, prior to its publication the internet offered at least two sites that discussed in detail the case for Atlantis in Southeast Asia. William Lauritzen and the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos developed extensive websites. Lauritzen has also written an e-book that is available from his site, while Santos developed his views on a Sundaland Atlantis in another recent book, Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found, published in 2005. Sunil Prasannan has an interesting essay on Graham Hancock’s website. A more esoteric site also offers support for the Sundaland theory of Atlantis.

Geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, in his book Plato Never Lied, Atlantis is in Indonesia, published in 2013, written that Gunungpadang was apparently brought by people in pyramid form about 13,000 years ago, the adoption of Atlantis was in the greater of the present-day Indonesia located. Graham Hancock proposed a common origin for various architectural and artistic works in pre-cataclysmic Sundaland as the true location of Atlantis, in his book Magicians of the Gods, published in 2015. Further support for an Indonesian Atlantis is the publication of a book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea by Dhani Irwanto in April 2015, who endeavors to identify features of the lost city with details in Plato’s account with a site in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Kalimantan.

References

Stephen Oppenheimer, Out-of-Africa, the peopling of continents and islands: tracing uniparental gene trees across the map, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B (2012) 367, 770–784

Andreia Brandão, Ken Khong Eng, Teresa Rito, Bruno Cavadas, David Bulbeck, Francesca Gandini, Maria Pala, Maru Mormina, Bob Hudson, Quantifying the legacy of the Chinese Neolithic on the maternal genetic heritage of Taiwan and Island Southeast Asia, Human Genetics, April 2016, Volume 135, Issue 4, pp 363-376

Tatiana M Karafet, Fernando L Mendez, Herawati Sudoyo, J Stephen Lansing and Michael F Hammer, Improved phylogenetic resolution and rapid diversification of Y-chromosome haplogroup K-M526 in Southeast Asia, European Journal of Human Genetics (2015) 23, 369–373

Pedro A Soares et al, Resolving the ancestry of Austronesian-speaking populations, Human Genetics Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 309-326, March 2016

Timothy A. Jinam, Lih-Chun Hong, Maude E Phipps, Mark Stoneking, Mahmood Ameen, Juli Edo, HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium and Naruya Saitou, Evolutionary History of Continental Southeast Asians: “Early Train” Hypothesis Based on Genetic Analysis of Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA Data, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(11):3513–3527,  June 2012

Martin Johnsson, Genomics of chicken domestication and feralisation, IFM Biology, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Linköping University, Sweden, 2015

Storey AA, Athens JS, Bryant D, Carson M, Emery K, et al, Investigating the Global Dispersal of Chickens in Prehistory Using Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Signatures, PLoS ONE 7(7): e39171, 2012. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039171

Mattias Oskarsson, Analysis of the origin and spread of the domestic dog using Y-chromosome DNA and mtDNA sequence data, Division of Gene Technology, School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden, 2012

Peter Savolainen et al, Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world, Cell Research 26:21-33, 2015 doi:10.1038/cr.2015.147

Laurent A F Frantz, Joshua G Schraiber, Ole Madsen, Hendrik-Jan Megens, Alex Cagan, Mirte Bosse, Yogesh Paudel, Richard P M A Crooijmans, Greger Larson & Martien A M Groenen, Evidence of long-term gene flow and selection during domestication from analyses of Eurasian wild and domestic pig genomes, Nature Genetics Volume 47 Number 10, Oktober 2015

Prithiviraj Fernando, TNC Vidya, John Payne, Michael Stuewe, Geoffrey Davison, Raymond J Alfred, Patrick Andau, Edwin Bosi, Annelisa Kilbourn, Don J Melnick, DNA Analysis Indicates That Asian Elephants Are Native to Borneo and Are Therefore a High Priority for Conservation, PLoS Biology, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2003, pp 110 – 115

Peter Civáň, Hayley Craig, Cymon J Cox dan Terence A Brown, Three geographically separate domestications of Asian rice, Nature Plants 1, Article number: 15164, 2015, doi: 10.1038/ nplants.2015.164

Dhani Irwanto, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea, Indonesia Hydro Media, 2015

***

Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2015-2017. All rights reserved.

collection-8-mock-up-3-book

Coming soon, approximate July 2017.

Taprobana is not Sri Lanka nor Sumatera, but Kalimantan

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 26 September 2015


Contents

Background
Trading with Southeast Asia
Early World Mapping
Ptolemy’s World Map
Definitions of India
The Island of Taprobana
Kalimantan Hypothesis for Taprobana
– World Map Development
– Geographic Conditions of Taprobana
– Ancient Maps of Kalimantan
– Geographic Names Identification
Taprobrana and The Search for Atlantis


Background

Taprobana (Ancient Greek: Ταπροβανᾶ) or Taprobane (Ταπροβανῆ) was the historical name for an island in the Indian Ocean. Onesicritus (ca 360 BC – ca 290 BC) was the first author that mentioned the island of Taprobana. The name was also reported to Europeans by the Greek geographer Megasthenes around 290 BC, and was later adopted by Ptolemy in his own geographical treatise to identify a relatively large island south of continental Asia. Though the exact place to which the name referred remains uncertain, some scholars consider it to be a wild misinterpretation of any one of several islands, including Sumatera and Sri Lanka.

The island entered European consciousness during the conquests of Alexander the Great. Alexander’s admirals Nearchus and Onesicritus described Taprobana in their reports to their king. Nearchus sailed around the southern tip of India, describing the smells of cinnamon that wafted from the fabulous island he passed along the way. Megasthenes, Seleucus’s ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, fleshed the place out a bit more. Several Roman cartographers and historians wrestled with the size, shape, and position of Taprobana before Claudius Ptolemy described an immense “Taprobana” in his Geographia, written about AD 150, six times the size of the Indian subcontinent and straddling the equator.

After the fall of Rome, European geography entered a Dark Age more profound than that of most other disciplines.  Like many ancient books and scholarly works, especially those housed at the Library at Alexandria, the work of Ptolemy was lost for over a thousand years in Western scholarship. At the end of the 1400s, after Renaissance scholars studying the writings of the Muslim scholars who had preserved much of the classical knowledge that had been lost to the West, his work was rediscovered and translated into Latin, a more commonly used language of Western scholars at the time. Geographia became popular once again and more than 40 editions were printed.

In his work Geographia, Ptolemy described and compiled all knowledge about the world’s geography in the Roman Empire of the 2nd century. A substantial undertaking in scholarship of the day, Geographia was written in eight volumes.  The first part discusses the problems of projections, that is, representing spherical item such as the earth on a flat sheet of paper. The second part included seven volumes and was composed entirely of atlas.

One problem modern historians have encountered when researching Ptolemy’s work is that his works were all copied by hand and redistributed. Many of his maps were not redrawn when copies were made and most copies known to exist today do not include his drawings; rather, the books include maps made many centuries later based on his descriptions or are missing maps altogether. One such source that points out this problem is an Arabian scholar by the name of al-Mas’udi who wrote around AD 956 that Ptolemy’s Geographia mentioned a colored map with more than 4,530 cities plotted and over 200 mountains. In Ptolemy’s world map he identifies many modern geographic areas including Taprobana and Aurea Chersoneus.

This has been the primary subject of debate over Taprobana. Each succeeding generation has read vague descriptions of the island left by their predecessors, and wrangled over what their predecessors really meant. 18th and 19th century scholars began to think that Ptolemy confused Sri Lanka with Sumatera, or even the lower peninsula of India. In the end, it is impossible to assign a single place with all of the qualities that have been labeled with the name “Taprobana” over the ages.

The name Taprobana had been applied to Sumatera from the fifteenth century onwards, after a misunderstanding by the Italian traveller Nicolo di Conti. Conti was the first European traveler who distinguished Sri Lanka from Taprobana and identified the latter as Sumatera, which it will be noted, athwart the equator. Subsequent geographers, historians, cosmographers and thinkers alike became engaged in a controversy over its proper identification. Considerable confusion began to exist as to whether Sri Lanka or Sumatera was the island of Taprobana and depicted in the Hereford, Ebstrof, Catalan Atlas’ Mappae Mundi and on Fra Mauro’s Planisphere and Martin Behaim’s Globe. The maps such as “Cantino”, “Caverio” and “Contarini” have misled the contemporary viewers who in their turn transmitted this confusion either through implicitly casual discussions or even deliberately explicit instructions to mapmakers who in their turn propagated it just as naively and with the same degree of intelligence as their informants through the documents they were producing for their immediate users.

The peculiar geographical vicissitudes of Taprobana drew the attention of leading figures from western history, Ramusio, Gossellin, Kant, and Cassini who concerned with the dilemma, attempted to resolve the question of Taprobana’s identification with countries ranging from Sumatera to Madagascar. Venetian geographer, historian and humanist Ramusio relying on an account of an anonymous Portuguese and based on geographical and astronomical data sought to reconcile the location and dimensions of Sumatera with the position and size of the island that Iambulus the Greek merchant claimed to have discovered. The aim of his argument thereby was to determine that this island was precisely the Taprobana of the classical authors.

Sebastian Munster’s map of Taprobana drawn in 1580 carries the German title, Sumatera Ein Grosser Insel (“Sumatera, a large island”). The old debate was settled earlier in favor of Sri Lanka, but the more recent display of Munster’s map with its title has reignited the debate. Munster’s map was “a fine example” of the difficulties Renaissance map makers had in placing the continents of the world. It showed the cartographic confusion that Europeans had trying to understand the geography of Asia.

What still baffles everyone is the exaggerated size of Taprobana if Ptolemy really meant the isle to represent present day Sri Lanka. In contrast, the sub-continent of India which is shown in the map is far smaller in dimensions. It was true that Sri Lanka by Ptolemy’s time was a well-known island as it was centrally situated in the Indian Ocean but India and her products were equally known from the pre-Christian era, starting with the Persian occupation of territory up to the river Sind and Alexander’s conquests following that as well as through sea-borne trade.

On the contrary, Taprobana, despite its sheer size, was assigned by Ptolemy with trade in elephants and golden spices. Both Sri Lanka and Sumatera were known for these two commodities, and the latter more so for spices but it is Sri Lanka which had better historical record for elephants. The intelligence displayed by Sri Lankan elephants and easier transport across the Indian continent perhaps, accounted for preference for them. Sri Lankan elephants began to be exploited in a big way only after the East African resources dwindled.

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Trading with Southeast Asia

Under the Mongol Empire’s hegemony over Asia (the Pax Mongolica, or Mongol peace), Europeans had long enjoyed a safe land passage, the Silk Road to India (the Indies, a far larger region than modern India) and China, which were sources of valuable goods such as spices and silk.

In the early centuries AD, Indians and Westerners called Southeast Asia the “Golden Peninsula”, the “Land of Gold”, and it was not long thereafter that the region became known for its pepper and the products of its rainforests, first aromatic woods and resins, and then the finest and rarest of spices. From the seventh to the tenth centuries Arabs and Chinese thought of Southeast Asia’s gold, as well as the spices that created it; by the fifteenth century sailors from ports on the Atlantic, at the opposite side of the hemisphere, would sail into unknown oceans in order to find these Spice Islands. They all knew that Southeast Asia was the spice capital of the world. From roughly 1000 AD until the nineteenth-century ‘industrial age’, all world trade was more or less governed by the ebb and flow of spices in and out of Southeast Asia.

Throughout these centuries the region and its products never lost their siren quality. Palm trees, gentle surf, wide beaches, steep mountain slopes covered with lush vegetation, birds and flowers of brilliant colors, as well as orange and golden tropical sunsets have enchanted its visitors as well as its own people through the ages. Indeed, it is said that when in the last years of the sixteenth century the first Dutch ship arrived at one of the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, the entire crew jumped ship, and it took their captain two years to gather them for the return trip to Holland.

In the international trading by land and water several major empires were involved. At the western end of the caravan and sea routes (the famous Silk Roads) was the Roman Empire, which at the time included the countries around the Mediterranean, Egypt, the Levant and Arabia. From there the trade routes ran east through the kingdoms of the Parthians and the Kushans in Central Asia and northern India, through the land of the Shaka (Indo-Scythians) and Shatavahana in northern and central India, to the South Indian kingdoms of the Cheras, Pandyas and Cholas and, continuing via Sri Lanka and the Bay of Bengal, to Funan in present-day South Vietnam and to China, at the eastern end of the Silk Roads. The Chinese Han dynasty traded indirectly with Rome, be it on the caravan routes that led through Central Asia to India, the Persian Gulf and finally to the eastern Mediterranean, be it across the oceans, from the South China Sea, across the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea as far as Alexandria and Rome. The Southeast Asian archipelago with its medicines, spices and aromatic substances, with precious timbers and tortoise shell was an important link in this far-reaching trade network, interconnecting continents.

With the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the land route to Asia became much more difficult and dangerous. Portuguese navigators tried to find a sea way to Asia. In 1470 the Florentine astronomer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli suggested to King Afonso V of Portugal that sailing west would be a quicker way to reach the Spice Islands, Cathay (China) and Cipangu (Japan) than the route round Africa. Afonso rejected his proposal. Portuguese explorers, under the leadership of King John II, then developed a passage to Asia by sailing around Africa. Major progress in this quest was achieved in 1488, when Bartolomeu Dias reached the Cape of Good Hope, in what is now South Africa. Meanwhile, in the 1480s, the Columbus brothers had picked up Toscanelli’s suggestion and proposed a plan to reach the Indies (then construed roughly as all of south and east Asia) by sailing west across the “Ocean Sea”, ie the Atlantic. During his first voyage in 1492, instead of arriving at Japan as he had intended, Columbus reached the New World, landing on an island in the Bahamas archipelago that he named “San Salvador”. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming all of it for the Crown of Castile.

Portugal was the first European power to establish a bridgehead on the lucrative maritime Southeast Asia trade route, with the conquest of the Sultanate of Malaka in 1511. The Netherlands and Spain followed and soon superseded Portugal as the main European powers in the region. In 1599, Spain began to colonize the Philippines. In 1619, acting through the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch took the city of Sunda Kelapa, renamed it Batavia (now Jakarta) as a base for trading and expansion into the other parts of Java and the surrounding territory. In 1641, the Dutch took Malaka from the Portuguese. Economic opportunities attracted Overseas Chinese to the region in great numbers. In 1775, the Lanfang Republic, possibly the first republic in the region, was established in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, as a tributary state of the Qing Empire; the republic lasted until 1884, when it fell under Dutch occupation as Qing influence waned.

Englishmen of the United Kingdom, in the guise of the Honorable East India Company led by Josiah Child, had little interest or impact in the region, and were effectively expelled following the Siam-England war in 1687. Britain, in the guise of the British East India Company, turned their attention to the Bay of Bengal following the Peace with France and Spain in 1783. During the conflicts, Britain had struggled for naval superiority with the French, and the need of good harbors became evident. Penang Island had been brought to the attention of the Government of India by Francis Light. In 1786 a settlement was formed under the administration of Sir John Macpherson, which formally began British expansion into the Malay States of Southeast Asia.

The British also temporarily possessed Dutch territories during the Napoleonic Wars; and Spanish areas in the Seven Years’ War. In 1819, Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a key trading post for Britain in their rivalry with the Dutch. However, their rivalry cooled in 1824 when an Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. British rule in Burma began with the first Anglo-Burmese War (1824 – 1826).

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Early World Mapping

Long before the era of global positioning satellites and multi-spectrum ortho-photography, ancient cartographers frequently had to rely on word of mouth to describe far-away places. Sometimes, they would draw sea-monsters on maps to fill in the empty spaces. Other times, they would expand the size of a place they had heard of, and add their own detail.

When the ancient mapmakers first began representing the earth’s surface on a map, they simply drew geographic features as they saw them or as travelers and explorers described them. Because so little was known about the world, information on maps was rather sparse and it was difficult to evaluate a map’s quality or accuracy. In fact, most maps created before the European Renaissance were so generalized and inaccurate that the mapmakers could have assumed we lived on a flat earth and it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to the map’s usefulness.

Hecataeus, a scholar of Miletus, probably produced the first book on geography in about 500 BC. A generation later Herodotus, from more extensive studies and wider travels, expanded upon it. A historian with geographic leanings, Herodotus recorded, among other things, an early circumnavigation of the African continent by Phoenicians. He also improved on the delineation of the shape and extent of the then-known regions of the world, and he declared the Caspian to be an inland sea, opposing the prevailing view that it was part of the “northern oceans”.

Hecataeus

Figure 1. Reconstruction of the world map according to Hecataeus (ca 500 BC).

Although Hecataeus regarded the Earth as a flat disk surrounded by ocean, Herodotus and his followers questioned the concept and proposed a number of other possible forms. Indeed, the philosophers and scholars of the time appear to have been preoccupied for a number of years with discussions on the nature and extent of the world. Some modern scholars attribute the first hypothesis of a spherical Earth to Pythagoras (6th century BC) or Parmenides (5th century). The idea gradually developed into a consensus over many years. In any case by the mid-4th century the theory of a spherical Earth was well accepted among Greek scholars, and about 350 BC Aristotle formulated six arguments to prove that the Earth was, in truth, a sphere. From that time forward, the idea of a spherical Earth was generally accepted among geographers and other scholars.

Herodotus

Figure 2. Reconstruction of the world map according to Herodotus (ca 430 BC).

About 300 BC, Dicaearchus, a disciple of Aristotle, placed an orientation line on the world map, running east and west through Gibraltar and Rhodes. Eratosthenes, Marinus of Tyre, and Ptolemy successively developed the reference-line principle until a reasonably comprehensive system of parallels and meridians, as well as methods of projecting them, had been achieved.

Dicaearchus

Figure 3. Reconstruction of the world map according to Dicaearchus (ca 300 BC).

Eratosthenes (276 – 194 BC) drew an improved world map, incorporating information from the campaigns of Alexander the Great and his successors. Asia became wider, reflecting the new understanding of the actual size of the continent. Eratosthenes was also the first geographer to incorporate parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions, attesting to his understanding of the spherical nature of the earth.

Eratosthenes

Figure 4. 1883 reconstruction of Eratosthenes’ map

Posidonius (ca 150 – 130 BC) work “about the ocean and the adjacent areas” was a general geographical discussion, showing how all the forces had an effect on each other and applied also to human life. He measured the Earth’s circumference by reference to the position of the star Canopus. His measure of 240,000 stadia translates to 24,000 miles, close to the actual circumference of 24,901 miles. He was informed in his approach by Eratosthenes, who a century earlier used the elevation of the Sun at different latitudes. Both men’s figures for the Earth’s circumference were uncannily accurate, aided in each case by mutually compensating errors in measurement. However, the version of Posidonius’ calculation popularized by Strabo was revised by correcting the distance between Rhodes and Alexandria to 3,750 stadia, resulting in a circumference of 180,000 stadia, or 18,000 miles. Ptolemy discussed and favored this revised figure of Posidonius over Eratosthenes in his Geographia, and during the Middle Ages scholars divided into two camps regarding the circumference of the Earth, one side identifying with Eratosthenes’ calculation and the other with Posidonius’ 180,000 stadia measure. Depending on the value of the stadia that is adopted, it may be true that Posidonius, seeking to improve on Eratosthenes, underestimated the size of the earth, and this measurement, copied by Ptolemy, and was thereafter transmitted to Renaissance Europe.

Posidonius

Figure 5. A 1628 reconstruction of Posidonius ideas about the positions of continents

Strabo (ca 64 BC – 24 AD) is mostly famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era. The Geographica first appeared in Western Europe in Rome as a Latin translation issued around 1469. Although Strabo referenced the antique Greek astronomers Eratosthenes and Hipparchus and acknowledged their astronomical and mathematical efforts towards geography, he claimed that a descriptive approach was more practical. Geographica provides a valuable source of information on the ancient world, especially when this information is corroborated by other sources. Within the books of Geographica is a map of Europe. Whole world maps according to Strabo are reconstructions from his written text.

Strabo

Figure 6. A 1815 reconstruction of the world map according to Strabo

Pomponius Mela (ca 43 AD) is unique among ancient geographers in that, after dividing the earth into five zones, of which two only were habitable, he asserts the existence of antichthones, people inhabiting the southern temperate zone inaccessible to the folk of the northern temperate regions due to the unbearable heat of the intervening torrid belt. On the divisions and boundaries of Europe, Asia and Africa, he repeats Eratosthenes; like all classical geographers from Alexander the Great (except Ptolemy) he regards the Caspian Sea as an inlet of the Northern Ocean, corresponding to the Persian (Persian Gulf) and Arabian (Red Sea) gulfs on the south.

Pomponius Mela

Figure 7. A 1898 reconstruction of Pomponius Mela view of the World.

The greatest figure of the ancient world in the advancement of geography and cartography was Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy; 90 – 168 AD). An astronomer and mathematician, he spent many years studying at the library in Alexandria, the greatest repository of scientific knowledge at that time. He pioneered the use of curving parallels and converging meridians on maps. Ptolemy’s maps were “Mediterranean specific”, very generalized, and almost completely ignored the Southern Hemisphere. Still, they were a significant step forward in mapmaking and so far ahead of their time, they were used well into the Renaissance.

Ptolemy

Figure 8. Ptolemy’s map of the world by Johane Schnitzer (Ulm: Leinhart Holle, 1482). The original map was lost.

The Arab geographer, Muhammad Al-Idrisi (1154 AD), incorporated the knowledge of Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Far East gathered by Arab merchants and explorers with the information inherited from the classical geographers to create the most accurate map of the world at the time. It remained the most accurate world map for the next three centuries. The Tabula Rogeriana was drawn by Al-Idrisi in 1154 for the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, after a stay of eighteen years at his court, where he worked on the commentaries and illustrations of the map. The map, written in Arabic, shows the Eurasian continent in its entirety, but only shows the northern part of the African continent.

Al-Idrisi

Figure 9. The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by Al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154

Abraham Cresques of a family of Catalonian Jews who worked in Majorca created an atlas known as the Catalan Atlas  in 1375, as requested by King Charles V of France from Peter of Aragon at a time when the reputation of the Catalan chart makers was at its peak. Abraham Cresques is the patron of the best Majorcan mapmaker of the time. The atlas that resulted contained the latest information on Asia and China and has subsequently been called “the most complete picture of geographical knowledge as it stood in the later Middle Ages”.

The Catalan Atlas originally consisted of six vellum leaves folded down the middle, painted in various colors including gold and silver. The leaves are now cut in half. The first two leaves contain texts in Catalan covering cosmography, astronomy and astrology. The four remaining leaves make up the actual map, which is divided into two principal parts.

The first two leaves, forming the oriental portion of the Catalan Atlas, illustrate numerous religious references as well as a synthesis of medieval mappae mundi and the travel literature of the time, notably Marco Polo’s Book of Marvels and Mandeville’s Travels and Voyage of Sir John Mandeville. Many Indian and Chinese cities can be identified. South-east of the coast of Cathay are numerous islands – they number 7,548 – in which they are rich in gold, silver, spices and precious stones, so much so that “great ships of many different nations” trade in their waters. In the extreme corner is a portion of a great island which is named Taprobana (written as “Trapobana”). A legend states that it is the last island in the East, and is called by the Tartars ‘Great Caulij’.

1375_Atlas_Catalan_Abraham_Cresques

Figure 10. Rotated 1375 Catalan Atlas in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

The world map of Henricus Martellus Germanus (Heinrich Hammer), ca 1490, was remarkably similar to the terrestrial globe later produced by Martin Behaim in 1492, the Erdapfel. Both show heavy influences from Ptolemy, and both possibly derive from maps created around 1485 in Lisbon by Bartolomeo Columbus. Although Martellus is believed to have been born in Nuremberg, Behaim’s home town, he lived and worked in Florence from 1480 to 1496.

Martellus

Figure 11. Martellus world map (1490)

The Cantino planisphere or world map is the earliest surviving map showing Portuguese geographic discoveries in the east and west. It is named after Alberto Cantino, an agent for the Duke of Ferrara, who successfully smuggled it from Portugal to Italy in 1502. The map is particularly notable for portraying a fragmentary record of the Brazilian coast, discovered in 1500 by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, and for depicting the African coast of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans with a remarkable accuracy and detail. It was valuable at the beginning of the sixteenth century because it showed detailed and up-to-date strategic information in a time when geographic knowledge of the world was growing at a fast pace. It is important in our days because it contains unique historical information about the maritime exploration and the evolution of nautical cartography in a particularly interesting period. The Cantino planisphere is the earliest extant nautical chart where places (in Africa and parts of Brazil and India) are depicted according to their astronomically observed latitudes.

Cantino

Figure 12. Cantino planisphere (1502), Biblioteca Estense, Modena, Italy

The Caverio Map, also known as Caveri Map or Canerio Map, is a map drawn by Nicolay de Caveri, circa 1505. It is hand drawn on parchment and colored, being composed of ten sections or panels, measuring 2.25 by 1.15 meters (7.4 by 3.8 feet). Historians believe that this undated map signed with “Nicolay de Caveri Januensis” was completed in 1504 – 1505. It was probably either made in Lisbon by the Genoese Canveri, or copied by him in Genoa from the very similar Cantino map. It shows the east coast of North America with surprising detail, if the east coast of North America is compared with modern-day maps, we will be struck by its immediately noticeable similarity with the coastline stretching from Florida to the Delaware or Hudson River, when we consider the general belief that the Europeans neither saw nor set foot on the beaches in the southern states of the present-day USA. It was one of the primary sources used to make the Waldseemüller map in 1507. Caverio map is currently at Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.

Caverio

Figure 13. Caverio Map (ca 1505), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

The story of the small group of Renaissance intellectuals that worked at San Die, a small city in the Alzace (France) from 1500 onwards is well known. The team was financed by Duc Rene II de Lorraine, represented in the team by Walter Ludd. Martin Ringmann was the writer and Martin Waldseemüller the geographer. They set themselves to analyze new geographical information coming from the earliest of voyages of discovery and integrate that information into existing maps and atlases. The effort led to the publication of an important booklet, Universalis Cosmographia (1507); one of the most important wall maps of the world ever published and a globe, published the same year. From this revolution in cartography a new line of editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia was born (1513; 1520; 1522; 1535; 1541) which brought together old with new knowledge of the world.

Waldseemüller’s large world map was the most exciting product of that research effort, and included data gathered during Amerigo Vespucci’s voyages of 1501 – 1502 to the New World. Waldseemüller christened the new lands “America” in recognition of Vespucci’s understanding that a new continent had been uncovered as a result of the voyages of Columbus and other explorers in the late fifteenth century. This is the only known surviving copy of the first printed edition of the map, which, it is believed, consisted of 1,000 copies.

Waldseemüller’s map supported Vespucci’s revolutionary concept by portraying the New World as a separate continent, which until then was unknown to the Europeans. It was the first map, printed or manuscript, to depict clearly a separate Western Hemisphere, with the Pacific as a separate ocean. The map represented a huge leap forward in knowledge, recognizing the newly found American landmass and forever changing the European understanding of a world divided into only three parts – Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Waldseemüller

Figure 14. Universalis Cosmographia, the Waldseemüller wall map, 1507

Lorenz Fries (ca 1490 – ca 1531 AD) was a physician, astrologer and geographer who is perhaps best-known to cartophiles for his re-working of Martin Waldseemüller’s maps from Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographia. Karrow suggests in his Mapmakers of The Sixteenth Century and Their Maps that Fries had studied at Vienna, Montpellier, Piacenza and Pavia before working in Schlettstadt, Colmar, Fribourg and Strasbourg. Fries’ early publications were related to medicine and he experienced some success in this field. His publisher was Gruninger, in Strasbourg, who was also known to have worked in collaboration with Waldseemuller on the Chronica Mundi, a cosmography planned for publication. It seems likely that this small volume was to help form Fries’ considerable involvement with Waldseemüller maps. The first of Waldseemüller’s map to receive a re-working by Fries, and also worked on by Peter Apian, was the Tipus Orbis Universalis in 1520, which was based on Waldseemüller’s 1507 map of the world.

Lorenz Fries and Peter Apian

Figure 15. Tipus Orbis Universalis, a re-working of Waldseemüller’s map by Lorenz Fries and Peter Apian, 1520

At the same time as this world map was being published, Fries was also working on an edition of Ptolemy’s “Geographia”. The aforementioned Chronica Mundi did not reach publication, perhaps because of Waldseemüller’s death in 1518, and Gruninger, the publisher, decided instead to have Fries work on an edition of Ptolemy using the maps that might have otherwise been included in the Chronica Mundi. Thus, Fries’ first edition of Waldseemüller’s Ptolemy appeared in Strasbourg in 1522 – it was very similar to Waldseemüller’s own 1513 version although Fries’ maps were cut at a slightly reduced size. Three maps were new to this edition (although were based on Waldseemüller’s map of 1507); the world, South-East Asia and eastern Asia (showing China and Tartary). Fries’ woodblocks were used again in three subsequent editions of 1525, published in Strasbourg and edited by Willibald Pirkheimer in 1535, published in Lyons and edited by Michael Servetus in 1541, also published in Lyons – a re-print of the 1535 edition.

Geographia, edited by Lorenz Fries

Figure 16. World map from Ptolemy, Geographia, edited by Lorenz Fries, 1522

Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598 AD) was conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas. In 1564 he published his first map, Typus Orbis Terrarum, an eight-leaved wall map of the world, on which he identified the Regio Patalis with Locach as a northward extension of the Terra Australis, reaching as far as New Guinea. Many of his atlas’ maps were based upon sources that no longer exist or are extremely rare. Ortelius appended a unique source list (the Catalogus Auctorum) identifying the names of contemporary cartographers, some of whom would otherwise have remained obscure.

Abraham Ortelius

Figure 17. Typus Orbis Terrarum by Abraham Ortelius (1564 AD)

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Ptolemy’s World Map

Claudius Ptolemaeus, better known as Ptolemy (ca 90 – 168 AD) made many important contributions to geography and spatial thought. A Greek by descent, he was a native of Alexandria in Egypt, and became known as the most wise and learned man of his time. Although little is known about Ptolemy’s life, he wrote on many topics, including geography, astrology, musical theory, optics, physics, and astronomy.

Ptolemy’s text reached Italy from Constantinople in about 1400 and was translated into Latin by Jacobus Angelus of Scarperia around 1406. The first printed edition with maps, published in 1477 in Bologna, was also the first printed book with engraved illustrations. Many editions followed (more often using woodcut in the early days), some following traditional versions of the maps, and others updating them. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482 was the first one printed north of the Alps. Also in 1482, Francesco Berlinghieri printed the first edition in vernacular Italian.

Ptolemy’s work in astronomy and geography have made him famous for the ages, despite the fact that many of his theories were in the following centuries proven wrong or changed. Ptolemy collected, analyzed, and presented geographical knowledge so that it could be preserved and perfected by future generations. These ideas include expressing locations by longitude and latitude, representing a spherical earth on a flat surface, and developing the first equal area map projection. Ptolemy’s accomplishments reflect his understanding of spatial relationships among places on earth and of the Earth’s spatial relationships to other celestial bodies.

The greatest contribution of Ptolemy was not the maps themselves but the concepts behind the maps. Geographia, a work of seven volumes, the standard geography textbook until the 15th century, transmitted a vast amount of topographical detail to Renaissance scholars, profoundly influencing their conception of the world. Containing instructions for drawing maps of the entire oikoumenè (inhabited world), Geographia was what we would now call an atlas. It included a world map, 26 regional maps, and 67 maps of smaller areas.

He illustrated three different methods for projecting the Earth’s surface on a map (an equal area projection, a stereographic projection, and a conic projection), and the calculation of coordinate locations for some eight thousand places on the Earth. He invented the concept of latitude and longitude, a mapping system still commonly used today. Latitude was measured horizontally from the equator, but Ptolemy preferred to express it as the length of the longest day rather than degrees of arc (the length of the mid-summer day increases from 12h to 24h as one goes from the equator to the polar circle), while longitude was measured from the westernmost landmass known to date, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain. Through his publications, Ptolemy dominated European cartography for nearly a millennium and inspired explorers like Christopher Columbus to test the spatial boundaries of the world. Ptolemy was well aware that he knew about only a quarter of the globe.

Ptolemy had mapped the whole world from the Fortunatae Insulae (Cape Verde or Canary Islands) eastward to the eastern shore of the Magnus Sinus. This known portion of the world was comprised within 180 degrees. In his extreme east Ptolemy placed Serica (the Land of Silk), the Sinarum Situs (the Port of the Sinae), and the emporium of Cattigara. On the 1489 map of the world by Henricus Martellus, which was based on Ptolemy’s work, Asia terminated in its southeastern point in a cape, the Cape of Cattigara. Cattigara was understood by Ptolemy to be a port on the Sinus Magnus, or Great Gulf, the actual Gulf of Thailand, at eight and a half degrees north of the Equator, on the coast of Cambodia, which is where he located it in his Canon of Famous Cities. It was the easternmost port reached by shipping trading from the Graeco-Roman world to the lands of the Far East.

His ability to take in and understand the incredible amount of information developed before his time, add to it, and synthesis it into a map or a book of maps changed how people understood, perceived, and represented the world. Copies and reprints of Ptolemy’s world maps made up the majority of navigation and factual maps for centuries to come, providing the base information for early European explorers. Ptolemy also standardized the orientation of maps, with North at the top and East on the right, thereby placing the known world in the upper left, a standard that remains to this day.

Geographia carried a list of the names of some 8,000 places and their approximate latitudes and longitudes. Except for a few that were made by observations, the greater numbers of these locations were determined from older maps, with approximations of distances and directions taken from travelers. In spite of the more accurate mapping of both Philo and Josephus 100 years earlier, Ptolemy carries on the long tradition of Greek geographers (Strabo, Eratosthenes, Herodotus, Hesiod and Hecataeus).

We know very little of Ptolemy’s life. He made astronomical observations from Alexandria in Egypt during the years 127 – 141 AD. The first observation which we can date exactly was made by Ptolemy on 26 March 127 while the last was made on 2 February 141. In fact there is no evidence that Ptolemy was ever anywhere other than Alexandria.

It is not surprising that the maps given by Ptolemy were quite inaccurate in many places for he could not be expected to do more than use the available data and this was of very poor quality for anything outside the Roman Empire, and even parts of the Roman Empire are severely distorted. One fundamental error that had far-reaching effects was attributed to Ptolemy – an underestimation of the size of the Earth. He showed Europe and Asia as extending over half of the globe, instead of the 130 degrees of their true extent. Similarly, the span of the Mediterranean ultimately was proved to be 20 degrees less than Ptolemy’s estimate. So lasting was Ptolemy’s influence that 13 centuries later Christopher Columbus underestimated the distances to Cathay and India partly from a recapitulation of this basic error.

The prevailing method of mapping in the ancient world was by means of topological itinerary maps and gazetteers that provided their users with useful travel guides. Of primary concern to most travelers was knowledge of definite and relatively unhazardous routes. The idea of a world map that placed locations relative to an independent spatial framework, whilst certainly a fascinating scientific curiosity, was both too inaccurate and too uninformative (of terrain, winds, sea currents, etc) to be of any practical use. Ptolemy was fully aware that copying a visual map was guaranteed to introduce a great quantity of error. It also makes vividly clear why attempts to correlate Ptolemy’s map with known locations are rendered more or less unviable. In order to reduce these problems of transmission, his Geographia is separated into two parts. The first, along with his methodology, describes how to draw a map according to two different projections. The second is a catalogue of locations, listing both towns and notable geographical features with their latitude and longitude.

The continents are given as Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa). The World Ocean is only seen to the west. The map distinguishes two large enclosed seas: the Mediterranean and the Indian (Indicum Pelagus). Due to Marinus and Ptolemy’s mistaken measure of the circumference of the earth, the former is made to extend much too far in terms of degrees of arc; due to their reliance on Hipparchus, they mistakenly enclose the latter with an eastern and southern shore of unknown lands, which prevents the map from identifying the western coast of the World Ocean. India is bound by the Indus and Ganges Rivers, but its peninsula is much shortened. Sumatera is given as Aurea Chersonesus (“Golden Peninsula”) instead of the earlier “Golden Island”, which derived from the works of his predecessor Marinus of Tyre of the mines on Sumatera (or Kalimantan). Beyond the Aurea Chersonesus, the Great Gulf (Magnus Sinus) forms a combination of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea which is bound by the unknown lands thought to enclose the Indian Sea. China is divided into two realms – the Qin (Sinae) and the Land of Silk (Serica) – owing to the different accounts received from the overland and maritime Silk Roads.

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Definitions of India

In medieval Europe the concept of “three Indias” was in common circulation. Greater India was the southern part of South Asia, Lesser India was the northern part of South Asia, and Middle India was the region around Ethiopia. The name Greater India (Portuguese: India Maior) was used at least from the mid-15th century. The term, which seems to have been used with variable precision, is sometimes meant only the Indian subcontinent; Europeans used a variety of terms related to South Asia to designate the South Asian peninsula, including High India, Greater India, Exterior India and India Aquosa.

However, in some accounts of European nautical voyages, Greater India (or India Major) extended from the Malabar Coast (present-day Kerala) to India extra Gangem (“India, beyond the Ganges”, but usually the East Indies, ie present-day Southeast Asian archipelago) and India Minor, from Malabar to Sind. Farther India was sometimes used to cover all of modern Southeast Asia and sometimes only the mainland portion.

In late 19th-century geography, “Greater India” referred to Hindustan (Northwestern Subcontinent) which included the Punjab, the Himalayas, and extended eastwards to Indochina (including Burma), parts of Indonesia (namely, the Sunda Islands, Kalimantan and Sulawesi), and the Philippines. German atlases sometimes distinguished Vorder-Indien (Anterior India) as the South Asian peninsula and Hinter-Indien as Southeast Asia.

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The Island of Taprobana

Taprobana, under the name of the “land of the Antichthones” or Opposite-Earth, was long looked upon as another world. The name was entirely unknown in Europe before the time Alexander the Great invaded India in in 327 BC. The writers who speak of Taprobana are Onesicritus, Eratosthenes, Megasthenes, Hipparchus, Strabo, and Pliny.

There are two distinct periods in which Taprobana is mentioned; and a third period when the site, with the name itself, have utterly vanished. The first period is that of the early and ancient writers from the time of Alexander the Great to that of the Emperor Claudius. It embraces notices from Onesicritus, Megasthenes, and Pliny. They all use no other name than that of Taprobana. The second period embraces the time from Ptolemy to that of Cosmas Indicopleustes, late on into the Christian era.

About twenty years after Alexander’s death, Megasthenes was sent as ambassador by Seleucus Nicator in 302 BC to Sandracottus (Chandragupta Maurya). From information derived at the court of Sandracottus, Megasthenes described Taprobana as a very fertile island divided by a river. One part was infested by wild beasts and elephants, and the other inhabited by Prachii colonists, and producing gold and gems.

Eratosthenes has also given the dimensions of this island, as being 7,000 stadia in length, and 5,000 in breadth. He states also that there were no cities, but villages to the number of 700. It began at the Eastern sea, and laid extended opposite to [Greater] India, east and west. This island was in former times supposed to be 20 days’ sail from the country of the Prasii, but in later times, whereas the navigation was formerly confined to vessels constructed of papyrus with the tackle peculiar to the Nile, the distance had been estimated at no more than 7 days sail, in reference to the speed which could be attained by vessels of their construction.

According to Pliny, in the reign of Claudius (41 – 54 AD), a freedman Annius Plocamus, who had farmed from the treasury the Red Sea revenues, while sailing around Arabia was carried away by gales of wind from the north beyond Carmania. In the course of 15 days he had been wafted to Hippuri, a port of Taprobana, where he was humanely received, hospitably entertained by the king, and having in six months time to acquire the language. This king, moreover, was so impressed with the character of the Romans, as exhibited by the fact that the denarii found in the possession of the freedman were all of equal weight, although the different figures on them plainly showed that they had been struck in the reigns of several emperors. He remained there sometime longer, and brought them acquainted with his own government. He dispatched the embassy in question to Rome, consisting of 4 ambassadors, of whom the chief was Rachia.

Strabo gathered many details from the ambassadors. Taprobana contained 500 towns and villages, and that there was a harbor that lies facing the south, and adjoining the city of Palaesimundus, 10 the most famous city in the isle, the king’s place of residence, and containing a population of 200,000.  There was a lake in the country called Megisba, 375 miles in circumference, from which one river called Palaesimundus, ran by the capital of that name, by 3 channels, the narrowest of which was 5 stadia in width, the largest 15; and the other, Cydara by name, northwards towards the coast of India. There were corals, pearls, and precious stones; the soil was fruitful; life was prolonged to more than a hundred years; there was a trade with China overland. The king wears the costume of Father Liber. Their festivals are celebrated with the chase, the most valued sports being the pursuit of the tiger and the elephant. The lands are carefully tilled; the vine is not cultivated there, but of other fruits there is great abundance. They take great delight in fishing, and especially in catching turtles; beneath the shells of which whole families find an abode, of such vast size are they to be found. The mode of trade and barter among the inhabitants themselves was peculiar, being done at night. The country and people were maritime and highly commercial. These ambassadors made one statement of the country enjoying two summers and two winters, which clearly show that the country embraced on both sides of the equator.

The inhabitants, who lived a hundred years, spent most of their time in hunting tigers and elephants, and fishing, especially catching turtles, whose shells were so enormous habitations were made of them. The ambassadors expressed great surprise at seeing the northern stars, and the sun rise on the left and set on the right hand. The nearest point of the [Greater] Indian coast was a promontory known as Coliacum, distant 4 days’ sail, and midway between them lay “the island of the Sun”; the sea was a greenish tint, having numerous trees (coral) growing in it, which the rudders of vessels broke off as they came in contact when sailing over it.

The sea that lies between the island and the mainland is full of shallows, not more than 6 paces in depth; but in certain channels it is of such extraordinary depth, that no anchor has ever found a bottom. For this reason it is that the vessels are constructed with prows at either end; so that there may be no necessity for tacking while navigating these channels, which are extremely narrow. The tonnage of these vessels is 3,000 amphorae. In traversing their seas, the people of Taprobana take no observations of the stars, and indeed the Greater Bear is not visible to them; but they carry birds out to sea, which they let go from time to time, and so follow their course as they make for the land. They devote only 4 months in the year to the pursuits of navigation, and are particularly careful not to trust themselves on the sea during the next 100 days after the summer solstice, for in those seas it is at that time the middle of winter.

Ptolemy, referring to Taprobana, states that its name had been altered to Salike. While Pliny gives very few names of places in Taprobana, Ptolemy, on the contrary, supplies a mass of information concerning the island, which is surprising by its copiousness, including not merely a complete periplus of its coasts, with the names of the headlands, rivers, and seaport towns, but also the names of many cities and tribes in the interior.

Taprobana

Figure 18. Ptolemy’s Taprobana as published in Cosmographia Claudii Ptolomaei Alexandrini, 1535

The Periplus Maris Erythraei (or “Voyage around the Erythraean Sea”), an anonymous work from around the middle of the first century AD written by a Greek speaking Egyptian merchant, indicates that the course trending toward the east, lying out at sea toward the west is the island Palaesimundu, called by the ancients Taprobana. The northern part is a day’s journey distant, the southern part trends gradually toward the west, and almost touches the shore of Azania. It produces pearls, transparent stones, muslins and tortoise-shell.

Cosmas Indicopleustes (Cosmas the Indian Voyager), who wrote The Christian Topography in the early 6th century, took especial care several times to impress it on his readers that the island called Serendib by the Indians was the Taprobana of the earlier Greeks. In the time of Cosmas the name Taprobana had vanished.

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Kalimantan Hypothesis for Taprobana

From the BC until the Middle Ages followed by the New World, a wide variety of world maps had been created and can be observed, which shows the development of the Western knowledge about the whole Earth, from the simple to the almost complete. The development was driven by the need for more accurate maps of trade routes heading to the world in the east, known as “The Silk Road”, that is from the Mediterranean Sea, followed by the Red Sea, the Erythraean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and ending in China. At the early century, only that trade route was the most widely known, while outside those regions only little information obtained that were from sailors who had visited them. Kalimantan Island is outside that route so that the location was not exactly known, or possibly deliberately kept in secret because this island has lucrative resources with superior quality that are very alluring for trade commodities. These become the subjects of the author to hypothesize that Taprobana is actually Kalimantan.

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World Map Development

The island of Taprobana is shown on the maps of Dicaearchus (300 BCE), Eratothenes (220 BCE), Strabo (18 CE), Pomponius Mela (43 CE), Ptolemy (150 CE), Al-Idrisi (1154 CE), Martellus (1490 CE), Cantino (1502 CE), Caverio (1505 CE), Waldseemüller (1507 CE), Lorenz Fries/Peter Apian (1520 CE) and edited Ptolemy’s by Lorenz Fries (1522 CE), while the Middle-Age maps by Abraham Ortelius (1570 CE) and after that do not show.

Maps prior to Ptolemy are without advancement of geography and cartography, so that information on maps are rather sparse, so generalized and far from accurate. Geographic features were drawn as they saw them or as travelers and explorers described them. As begun by Dicaearchus in the 3rd or 4th century BCE, Taprobana is shown, on the world map – as what they heard from what they saw or described by other travelers – in the Indian Ocean without knowing the exact position, at the south, west or further west of the Indian Peninsula.

Ptolemy’s map shows the whole world from the Fortunat Insulae eastward to China, spanned 180 degrees of longitude and about 80 degrees of latitude. His book Geographia carries a list of the names of some 8,000 places and their approximate latitudes and longitudes. The greater number of these locations are determined from older maps (Strabo, Eratosthenes, Herodotus, Hesiod and Hecataeus), with approximations of distances and directions taken from travelers and more accurate mapping of both Philo and Josephus 100 years earlier, except for a few that were made by observations. Ptolemy is well aware that he knows about only a quarter of the globe and can not do more as the available data was of very poor quality for anything outside the Roman Empire. These make the maps given by Ptolemy are inaccurate in many places. If we look his world map and compare it with the modern map, we can clearly see the tremendous deviations, much largely in the Asian portion. His error of underestimation of the size of the Earth is another contribution of the inaccuracy.

Ptolemy also includes 26 regional maps and 67 maps of smaller areas. These maps are at the grater located in and around the Roman Empire, with only a few regional maps are in the Greater India and China, where among them is Taprobana. These regional maps and smaller area data are of better accuracy, whether they are obtained from his observations or data from other travelers or explorers. Incorporating these regions and areas on an inaccurate world map derived from the older maps creates his confusions to locate their exact positions. Allegedly, he locates Taprobana based on the older maps of whether Eratothenes or Strabo, that actually no such island is in the position, or he deliberately puts it in the wrong place or floats its location so that not everyone can get there. However, so far ahead of their time, they were used well into the Renaissance until 13 centuries later Christopher Columbus underestimated the distances to Cathay and India.

With the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the land route to Asia became much more difficult and dangerous. This resulted in a lack of information of the area encompassed by the Indian Ocean, until the Portuguese explorers developed a passage to Asia by sailing around Africa and with the conquest of the Sultanate of Malaka in 1511. Thus, the Asian portion of the world maps after Ptolemy still continues to rely on his information found in the Geographia, incorporates the knowledge obtained from the Arab explores and unknown sources, as shown on the maps of Al-Idrisi, Martellus, Cantino, Caverio, Waldseemüller, Fries and Apian. Al-Idrisi incorporates the knowledge of Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Far East gathered by Arab merchants and explorers. Martellus’ map shows heavy influences from Ptolemy but incorporates Africa. Cantino’s map portrays Brazilian coast and depicts African coast of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans with a remarkable accuracy and detail. Caverio’s map shows the east coast of North America with surprising detail where its sources are still a mystery. Waldseemüller’s map is a new line of editions of Ptolemy’s Geographia with the integration of new geographical information coming from the earliest of voyages of discovery. Fries and Apian’s maps are the re-working of the Waldseemüller’s map. Most of these maps locate Taprobana more or less on the same position as Ptolemy’s map, except Cantino and Caverio’s maps which portray it as Sumatera.

Observing and comparing Ptolemy’s and Martellus’ maps, we can clearly see that there were confusions in mapping the Indian Peninsula. Ptolemy describes it in two major regions, India Intra Gangem – where there are Laricæ, Ariasa and Lymirca – in the west that does not show a major protruding peninsula, and India Extra Gangem – where there is Aurrea Chersonesus – in the east that shows a major protruding peninsula. He maps Indus and Ganges rivers on the west and east of India Intra Gangem, respectively, and Magnus Sinus and Cattigara on the further east. Martellus adds another peninsula on the east – where there is Cattigara – based on Ptolemy’s data, and keeps the others similar to Ptolemy’s. This peninsula is supposedly the Malay Peninsula so that the Indian Peninsula should be the Ptolemy’s India Extra Gangem. Maps thereafter by Cantino, Caveri, Waldseemüller, Fries and Apian confirm this.

Clarified Ptolemy's map

Figure 19. Clarified Ptolemy’s map

Clarified Martellus_ map

Figure 20. Clarified Martellus’ map

The Mela and Caveri’s map show two separate islands depicting Sri Lanka (“Solis”, “Seillam”) and Taprobana. The Ptolemy’s map show Barusæ, which is the present day Barus where it is located in Sumatera, and Taprobana separately. The Behaim, Waldseemüller, Fries and Apian’s maps show Sri Lanka (“Seilan”, “Seillam”, “Seyla”) and Sumatera (“Jaba Minor”, “Iava Minor”), beside Taprobana which is situated further west. These become indications that Taprobrana is not Sri Lanka nor Sumatera, and raise a presumption that it deliberately put on the wrong place or floated its location to make it a secrecy. It is allegedly that sailors tried to find Taprobana using Ptolemy based maps could not find it in the location but then sailed further, at the end they found Sumatera and assumed it as Taprobana. In spite of those, Taprobana is shown in the extreme southeast corner (Southeast Asia) on the Cresques’ Catalan Atlas (“Trapobana”), and in the Indian Ocean northeast of Java (“Argeria”) and Sumatera (“Crisa”) on the map of Walsperger (“Tapbana”). .

Sri Lanka (“Zeilan”) and Sumatera (“Sumatra”) appear on the Ortelius’ map, but Taprobana disappears, and Kalimantan (“Burneo”) and other islands in the archipelago are added. Thus, it shows the incredibly improved knowledge of the cartographers in that time. A presumption raise that the knowledge of the archipelago have been understood since that time, and the cartographers should have found out that Taprobana is actually Kalimantan, making it disappear from the maps.

Various maps depicting Traprobana

Figure 21. Various locations of Taprobana on the ancient maps. Also shown Sri Lanka (“Solis”, “Seilan”, “Seillam”, “Seylam”, “Seyla” or “Zeilan”) and Sumatera (“Chryse”, “Aurea Chersonesus”, “Barusæ”, “Illa Iana”, “Jaba Minor”, “Iava Minor” or “Sumatra”)

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Geographic Conditions of Taprobana

Eratosthenes mentioned that Taprobana is located in Eastern sea, lies extended opposite to Greater India. He gave the dimensions of the island, as being 7,000 stadia (≈ 1,300 km) in length, and 5,000 (≈ 925 km) in width. When we measure the size of Kalimantan Island, we can find that these dimensions are highly accurate. The ambassadors dispatched to Rome, as written by Pliny and Strabo, made one statement of the country enjoying two summers and two winters, which clearly show that the country embraced on both sides of the equator. These become evidence that Eratosthenes, Pliny and Strabo are correct to refer Taprobana as Kalimantan.

Pliny and Strabo stated that the nearest point of the Greater Indian coast was a promontory known as Coliacum, distant 4 days’ sail, and midway between them laid “the island of the Sun”. The sea was a greenish tint, having numerous coral at the bottom, which the rudders of vessels broke off as they came in contact when sailing over it. The Coliacum promontory is allegedly the Malay Peninsula, probably they gave its name referring to Kelantan or its older name Kalantan located in east coast of the peninsula. The early history of Kelantan traces distinct human settlement dating back to prehistoric times, and became an important center of trade by the end of the 15th century.

Between Kalimantan and the Malay Peninsula lays the Karimata Strait, a shallow water which was a land mass during the Ice Age. Almost a hundred of islands and coral reefs are in this strait – administratively under the Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung Provinces of Indonesia – with main islands among them are Natuna, Anambas, Bintan, Lingga, Bangka and Belitung. People in these islands are famous for their sun worshiping. The sea is shallow and reefs are on the bottom so that its color is greenish.

There are several islands around the Kalimantan Island. Those in the Java Sea and Karimata Strait, where they have shallow depth of about 20 to 50 meters, are a mix of real islands and coral reefs. In between islands or reefs, the depths are even shallower so that vessels have to be carefully prepared for such condition. These confirm Pliny’s and Strabo’s statements.

Sundaland - Taprobana

Figure 22. Kalimantan Island and its surroundings

The Dayak people inhabiting the Kalimantan Island are mostly hunters and farmers. Their leaders wear clothes and accessories just like Father Liber, as what Pliny and Strabo said. They have also the most ancient tradition of tattooing. Animals are abundant and the soil is fertile. The island is also rich of metal minerals such gold, silver and copper, and any kinds of precious stones. Oysters producing pearls are cultivated in the seas around the island, now become 40% of the world supply of pearl.

Elephants, tigers and turtles were abundant in the island as depicted by the Dayak traditions, languages and legends of how they aware of the habitat and habits of these animals, but because of their tradition of hunting these animals, their present populations are dwindled or extinct. Indonesia was the place of the ancient Stegodon, a large size elephant-like animal. DNA Analysis indicates that Asian elephants are native to Kalimantan (Fernando et al, 2003). The now endangered Kalimantan pigmy elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) are what remained in Kalimantan now, the same species in Java is already extinct some 200 years ago. Kalimantan, as well as Sumatera, are the habitat of giant turtles (Orlitia borneensis) and clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa). These facts confirm Pliny’s, Strabo’s and Ptolemy’s statements.

In daily life, helmeted hornbills (Rhinoplax vigil) are admired by the Dayaks in Kalimantan, for the lessons the community can learn from the behavior of the species. Using many different reverential names for the birds, the Dayak have many myths and legends in which hornbills are envoys of the gods with the task of conveying divine messages. In their beliefs, the birds give living examples of fidelity to a spouse and responsibility for family life. The Dayak teach their children not to hurt or kill the sacred birds. Such deeds are a taboo. Pliny and Strabo said that in traversing their seas, the people of Taprobana take no observations of the stars, but they carry birds out to sea, which they let go from time to time, and so follow their course as they make for the land. These birds were apparently the hornbill admired by the Dayak.

Pliny and Strabo stated that the island had a harbor at the south coast, adjoining the city of Palaesimundus. There was a large lake named Megisba from which Palaesimundus River ran by the city by 3 channels each having width of between 5 and 15 stadia (about 925 and 2775 meters), and the Cydara River laid north of the lake. These three rivers were allegedly the Barito, Kapuas-Murung and Kahayan Rivers. Barito River is nearly 3 kilometers, Kapuas-Murung River is about 1 kilometer and Kahayan river is about 1.5 kilometers in width, in those parts near the sea, that show cnformities with those stated by Pliny and Strabo. A large lake was probably formed on the plain region due to occurrence of a large flood from the mountains with higher flow velocity that could erode the upper part of the plain, but the lower part is flat and level so that the velocity was much reduced and the eroded material settled on that place forming a dam and a lake. A shallow lake on a flat plane may vanish only within hundreds of years. The existing condition now is a large swampy region.

According to the old maps, Tanjungpura located on the south coast of Kalimantan was a prominent city. Several ancient manuscripts mention also this name. Its literal meaning is “the city (pura) of Tanjung tree”. Tanjung tree (Mimusops elengi) is a medium-sized evergreen tree found in tropical forests in South Asia, Southeast Asia and northern Australia. English common names include Spanish cherry, medlar, and bullet wood. Its Sanskrit name is “bakula” so that an ancient manuscript from the Javanese Singasari Kingdom refers the city as Bakulapura. “Tanjung” can also mean “cape” or “peninsula” as used in some place names, but not for this case.

In the history records, there was a community near the present Tanjung town named Tanjungpuri. One of the remains is a Hindu temple Candi Agung located in Sungaimalang Village, Central Amuntai Sub-district, Hulu Sungai Utara Regency, South Kalimantan Province. Carbon dating to the remains resulted in around 200 BC. Tanjungpuri was probably the primordial Tanjungpura. The port of Hippuri mentioned by Pliny was probably Tanjungpuri.

At first, the indigenous people of Kalimantan did not apply the kingship system. Their social lives were based on customs and beliefs that were developed and transmitted from generation to generation. The community was formed from a small number of people and an amount of land necessary for living and farming. As the time over, they developed into a larger community that made their customs a more complex, and need more land too. Opening a new land would create a new community so that over time several communities were created but followed the same customs and inhabiting the same region. They called the whole community having the same socio-cultural practices and inhabiting in a region “banua”, meaning “world”, similar to “mundus” in Latin. The communities in Kalimantan strongly hold this “banua” concept until today.

Their social leader is called “raja” or “rajah”. The name of the chief of the embassy to Roman as stated by Pliny, Rachia, is probably this “rajah”. James Brooke was appointed as “rajah”, ruling the territory across the western regions of Sarawak in the 19th century.

Kingship was introduced into the indigenous by the Malay settlers from Sumatera around the 4th or 5th century. Tanjungpura was probably a “banua” in the early centuries and BC, so that the long name would be “Banua Tanjungpura”. Some old maps mention it as “Taiopuro”, which probably the European then called it with a long name “Taiopuro Banua”. To match the two consonants for each name, it was shortened to “Tapro Bana” and also to name the whole island, the same meaning as “Banua Tanjungpura”.

About the name of “Salike” given by Ptolemy, there is an Austronesian word “salaka” that means “white-colored metal”. This is probably a mixture of gold and silver, an electrum. This metal can be found naturally in southern Kalimantan region as a byproduct of gold mining. The word is applied to a cape name, Tanjung Salaka, located at the south coast of Kalimantan almost around the location of Tanjungpura.

The freedman Annius Plocamus was possibly stranded around the present-day Banjarmasin, in accordance with his statement that on the southern coast of Taprobana. It was also said that its territory was divided into two separated by a river. One part was infested by wild beasts and elephants, and the other inhabited by Prachii colonists, and producing gold and gems. The river was possibly the present-day Barito River and the Prachii colonists was the present-day Banjar people which were inherently colonists in several islands in Indonesia. On the ancient maps, the Banjar people were mentioned as Paco, Bancy, Biajo, Bander and Banjar, and by Ptolemy as Bacchi. Banjarmasin by Odoric of Pordenone (an Italian Franciscan friar) was mentioned as Thalamasyn. Banjarmasin by the Roman tongue was changed into Palaesi and added mundus (town) became Palaesimundus.

Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire possibly deliberately kept the actual name in secret and obscured it with another names because this island has lucrative resources with superior quality that are very alluring for trade commodities.

Besides some other classic names of the island, Kalimantan bore the name of Nusakencana, literally means “the island of gold”, as stated in the Jayabaya Prophecy from the Javanese Kediri Kingdom in the 12th century. The Muarakaman inscriptions found in the upper region of Mahakam River in east Kalimantan dated to 4th century also attest that the king of Mulawarman held a charity of much gold. The word “nusakencana” is an Austronesian language; its translation into Sanskrit is “suwarnadwipa”. Suwarnadwipa is widely known as the island of Sumatera by the historians but there is no such inscription that clearly refers it as the said island, so that other alternative of Suwarnadwipa is Kalimantan as this island is more abundant with gold than Sumatera. Moreover, Cosmas Indico-pleustes mentioned that “Serendip”, a European tongue of “Suwarnadwipa”, was the island of Taprobana.

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Ancient Maps of Kalimantan

The maps below show the development of Kalimantan maps from the 16th century until the 19th, starting from the map of Abraham Ortelius, which was the first modern atlas. The Ptolemy’s map of Taprobana is also included. We can see from these maps that the island of Kalimantan took its real map shape just in the middle of 19th century.

The cartographers of these maps should have known that Kalimantan was actually Taprobana, visible in the great similarities of the geographic names, layout, locations, features and descriptions of the island and its surroundings among Ptolemy’s and their maps.

150 Ptolemy

Figure 23. Ptolemy, Taprobana, 150 AD

1570 Abraham Ortelius

Figure 24. Abraham Ortelius, 1570 AD

1572 Abraham Ortelius

Figure 25. Abraham Ortelius, 1572 AD

1594 Petrus Plancius

Figure 26. Petrus Plancius, 1594 AD

1598 Petrus Plancius

Figure 27. Petrus Plancius, 1598 AD

1606 Hondius Jodocus

Figure 28. Hondius Jodocus, 1606 AD

1616 Petrus Bertius

Figure 29. Petrus Bertius, 1616 AD

1619 Gerard Mercator

Figure 30. Gerard Mercator, 1619 AD

1627 Bertius

Figure 31. Bertius, 1627 AD

1630 Ioão Teixeira

Figure 32. Ioão Teixeira, 1630 AD

1632 Johannes Cloppenburgh

Figure 33. Johannes Cloppenburgh, 1632 AD

1638 Joan Janssonius

Figure 34. Joan Janssonius, 1638 AD

1650 Willem Blaeu

Figure 35. Willem Blaeu, 1650 AD

1662 Frederik de Wit

Figure 36. Frederik de Wit, 1662 AD

1680 Pierre Duval

Figure 37. Pierre Duval, 1680 AD

1683 Alain Manesson Mallet

Figure 38. Alain Manesson Mallet, 1683 AD

1687 Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi

Figure 39. Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi, 1687 AD

1688 Robert Morden

Figure 40. Robert Morden, 1688 AD

1689 Vincenzo Maria Coronelli

Figure 41. Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, 1689 AD

1701 Bowrey

Figure 42. Bowrey, 1701 AD

1706 Pieter Vander

Figure 43. Pieter Vander, 1706 AD

1710 Ioachim Ottens

Figure 44. Ioachim Ottens, 1710 AD

1721 John Senex

Figure 45. John Senex, 1721 AD

1721 Nicholas de Fer and J Robbe

Figure 46. Nicholas de Fer and J Robbe, 1721 AD

1723 Chevigny

Figure 47. Chevigny, 1723 AD

1725 Pierre Vander

Figure 48. Pierre Vander, 1725 AD

1726 Herman Moll

Figure 49. Herman Moll, 1726 AD

1730 Christoph Homanno

Figure 50. Christoph Homanno, 1730 AD

1740 Isaac Tirion

Figure 51. Isaac Tirion, 1740 AD

1747 Nicolaus Bellin

Figure 52. Nicolaus Bellin, 1747 AD

1762 Robert de Vaugondy

Figure 53. Robert de Vaugondy, 1762 AD

1766 Thomas Salmon

Figure 54. Thomas Salmon, 1766 AD

1770 M Bonne

Figure 55. M Bonne, 1770 AD

1771 M Bonne

Figure 56. M Bonne, 1771 AD

1776 Antonio Zatta

Figure 57. Antonio Zatta, 1776 AD

1778 Thomas Jefferys

Figure 58. Thomas Jefferys, 1778 AD

1780 M Bonne

Figure 59. M Bonne, 1780 AD

1799 Clement Cruttwell

Figure 60. Clement Cruttwell, 1799 AD

1801 John Cary

Figure 61. John Cary, 1801 AD

1810 Ambrosse Tardieu

Figure 62. Ambrosse Tardieu, 1810 AD

1818 Pinkerton

Figure 63. Pinkerton, 1818 AD

1835 David H Burr

Figure 64. David H Burr, 1835 AD

1851 Tallis

Figure 65. Tallis, 1851 AD

1855 Joseph Hutchins Colton

Figure 66. Joseph Hutchins Colton, 1855 AD

1893 JH de Bussy

Figure 67. JH de Bussy, 1893 AD

1895 Richard Andree

Figure 68. Richard Andree, 1895 AD

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Geographic Names Identification

The author identifies the geographic names and locations as mentioned by Ptolemy by correlating with those in the old maps and their modern names. Compass was not invented in the Ptolemy’s time so that the map has very low quality in terms of scale, orientation and geographic locations. Below are the identified names. We can see that numerous names as well as their locations are in close resemblance with those of Ptolemy’s. These are the so many proofs that Taprobana is actually Kalimantan.

  • Cetęum, promontorium → (Cotan, Catalan, Satalang, Salaton, Salatan) → Tanjung Selatan

“Tanjung” means “cape”, “promontory” or “peninsula”. Tanjung Selatan is a significant promontory located at the southeastern part of Kalimantan.

  • Nanigiri, region → (Nagara, Nagarra) → Negara

Negara was a known place name and frequently mentioned in the old maps, now a village and a river name in South Kalimantan Province.

  • Baracus, fluvius → Barito River

Some maps show Barito River as Banjar River, Banjarmasin River or misplaced as Sukadana River.

  • Nacaduma, place → Mandoemai → Mandomai

Mandoemai is mentioned on the 1896 Dutch map. Mandomai is now a village in the region of Kapuas Barat Subdistrict, Kapuas Regency, Central Kalimantan Province.

  • Bachi, civitas → (Paco, Bancy, Biajo, Bander, Banjar) → Banjar

Banjar is an ethnic group in southern Kalimantan and formed a kingdom of Banjarmasin from 1520 to 1860. Banjarmasin is now a capital city of South Kalimantan Province. Some maps show Banjarmasin as Bandarmassin, Bendermassin, Bendermaβin, Bandermachri, Bendarmafsin, Bindermasin, Baniarmafseen, Brandermassin, Banjarmassen, Banjar Massin or Banjarmaffen. Odoric of Pordenone mentioned it as Thalamasyn.

Banjar people were travellers; some of them had travelled to many places in the archipelago and set up pockets of settlement. Megasthenes described Taprobana was inhabited by Prachii colonists, this could be the Banjar people.

  • Corcobara, place → (Tamiampura, Taiampura, Taiapura, Taiaopura, Taiaopuro, Tanjapura) → Tanjungpura

Tanjungpura is a name of an ancient kingdom. Based on the old maps, its location was not static but mostly at the south and southwest coast of Kalimantan.

  • Orneon, extrema → (Simanauw) → Sebangau

“Orneo”, “ornis” and “ornêon” in Latin mean “bird”, “fowl” or “heron”. “Bangau” in local language means “hern”, “heron”, “stork” or “egret”. Sebangau is now the name of a river and a bay at the southern coast of Kalimantan.

  • Azanus, fluvius → Kayan, Kahayan River

There are several rivers with the name of Kayan (or Kahayan), in western, southern and eastern Kalimantan. Kayan is also the name of several Dayak tribes. Azanus River is probably the Kahayan River in Central Kalimantan.

The Periplus Maris Erythraei indicates that the southern part of the region trends gradually toward the west, and almost touches the shore of Azania (or Azanus).

  • Louis, extrema → (Lao, Lave, Laue, Lava, Laua, Lawa) → Lawi, Lawai

Lawi or Lawai is an ancient city in the Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan Province. The name is frequently mentioned on the old maps but the exact location is controverted. Tomé Pires, a Portuguese explorer, described it as an area rich of diamonds, four-day shipping distance from Tanjompure (Tanjungpura). Lawi is also the name of a river, a tributary of Kayan River. Lawi is sometimes associated with Melawi, a regency in West Kalimantan Province.

  • Nubartha, civitas → (Sambuer, Sambaur, Sambor, Sobar, Sambar, Sambahar, Sambbae, Samban) → Tanjung Sambar

Tanjung Sambar is a cape in the Muara Kandawangan National Park.

  • Malea, mons → (Melahoei, Melawai) → Melawi

Melawi is the name of a regency in West Kalimantan Province, also the name of a river, located and has its headwaters on the Schwaner-Muller, a mountain range with highest peaks in Kalimantan.

  • Anubingara, place → (Matan, Mattan, Ketapan) → Ketapang

Ketapang is the oldest town in the western Kalimantan, was once the center of the kingdom of Tanjungpura situated at Matan. Ketapang is the capital of the Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan Province.

  • Priapides, portus → (Tamaratas, Tamaratos, Tamarates, Tameorato, Iamanatos, Hormata, Carimata) → Cempedak, Karimata

Cempedak is now the names of the two islands, off the coast of the port Siduk, Sukadana. Tamaratos and Hormata are frequently mentioned in the old maps, these are probably the modern town of Ketapang. Karimata is now the name of an island off the coast of Ketapang and a strait separating Kalimantan and Sumatera.

  • Sindocanda, civitas; Sandocandę, region → (Succadano, Succaduno, Succudana, Succadana, Socadana, Sucadana) → Sukadana

Sukadana is frequently mentioned in the old maps, it was an ancient kingdom with its products are diamonds and iron. Sukadana is now the capital city of North Kayong Regency, West Kalimantan Province.

  • Poduce, place → (Landa, Salimbau) → Sekadau

Landa is frequently mentioned in the old maps, this is probably Sekadau located at the bank of Kapuas River. Sekadau is now the names of a regency and also its capital, in West Kalimantan Province.

  • Soana, fluvius; Soani, region → (Sonee, Senar, Soné, Sone, Sona, Soengi) → [Sungai] Sambas

The above names are found on the 18th and 19th century maps indicating the three rivers (or places) around the Main Sambas River, literary mean “river” (“sungai”). These are written as Sone Sambas, Sone Luban and Sone Napor, probably the closely neighboured Sambas Kecil, Teberau and Subah Rivers. Sambas was a kingdom from before 14th century to 1950 AD, now the capital city of Sambas Regency in West Kalimantan Province.

  • Anaris, promontorium → (Sisar, Soric, Siric) → Tanjung Sirik

Tanjung Sirik is a cape located in Sarikei Division, Sarawak

  • Anurogrammum, place, Anurogrammi, region → Dayak people

Anurogrammum is in close resemblance to Anurognathus, a genus of small pterosaur. The indigenous Dayak people are hornbill admirers, have many myths and legends in which hornbills are envoys of the gods with the task of conveying divine messages. The Anurogrammum is allegedly meant “hornbill admirer”, ie the Dayak people.

  • Iogana, civitas → (Malano, Malona, Melanoege) → Melanau

Melanau people are an ethnic group native to Sarawak, the fifth largest group (after Iban, Chinese, Malays and Bidayuh), but forms a large part of Sarawak’s political sphere. The Melanau are considered among the earliest settlers in Sarawak, at first settled in scattered communities along the main tributaries of the Rajang River in Central Sarawak.

  • Margana, civitas → Miri

Miri town is named after a minority ethnic group called “Jatti Meirek” or simply “Mirek”, or “Miriek”. This ethnic group is the earliest settlers in the region of Miri Division, Sarawak.

  • Galiba, extrema; Galibi, region; Galibi, montres → (Balaba, Balabac) → Balabac

Balabac is the southern-most island of the Palawan province in the Philippines, only about 50 kilometres north from Sabah, Malaysia, across the Balabac Strait. The Molbogs, which is also referred to as Molebugan or Molebuganon are concentrated in the island. The Molbogs allegedly migrated from North Borneo, related to the Tidung or Tirum people, an indigenous group found in the northeast coast of Sabah since they have similar dialect and socio-cultural practices.

The names of Sabah, Balambangan Island and Teluk Labuk might also be derived from the same name.

  • Talakori, emporium → (Cancirao, Cancyra, Canciaro, Cancerao, Cancorao, Cancirau) → Keningau

This place is frequently mentioned in the 17th- and 18th-century maps. The exact place is not known, possibly Keningau, a district in the Interior Division, Sabah. It is the oldest and largest town in the interior part of Sabah. During the British colonial era, Keningau was one of the most important administrative centres in British North Borneo.

  • Modutti, emporium; Mudutti, region → (Marudo, Malloodoo) → Marudu or Murut people

Marudu is a town and a district located in the Kudat Division of the state of Sabah.

The Murut are an indigenous ethnic group, inhabiting northern inland regions of Borneo, literally means “hill people”. A large percentage of the Murut communities are in the southwest interior of Sabah, specifically the districts of Keningau, Tenom, Nabawan and Pensiangan, along the Sapulut and Padas rivers. The Murut were the last of Sabah’s ethnic groups to renounce headhunting.

  • Phasis, fluvius → (Sisar, Sisor) → Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River is located in Sabah, the second longest river in Malaysia, its headwaters are in the mountains of southwest Sabah, its outlet is at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan.

  • Anubingara, civitas → Lun Bawang people

The Lun Bawang (formerly known as Southern Murut) is an ethnic group found in Central Northern Borneo. They are indigenous to the highlands of North Kalimantan (Krayan, Malinau and Long Bawan), Brunei (Temburong District), southwest of Sabah (Interior Division) and northern region of Sarawak (Limbang Division).

  • Nagadiba, civitas → Negaradipa

Negaradipa was a kingdom located in the interior of South Kalimantan. Its capital was originally at Candi Laras, Margasari, near the downstream of Bahan River at its tributary, then they moved to the upstream of the at Candi Agung, Amuntai. As well as some tribes in Borneo, before establishing their empire they were tribal societies. Possibly, Negaradipa was a tribe before establishing their kingdom. The tribes in Kalimantan are generally nomadic and the tribe of Negaradipa was not necessarily located at the kingdom of Negaradipa.

  • Maagrammum, metropolis; Ganges, fluvius → (Bamcamanican, Pomanakam, Markaman) → Muarakaman and Mahakam River

Muarakaman, located in Kutai Kartanegara Regency, East Kalimantan Province, is known as the existence of stone manuscripts dated around 4th century AD, written on seven stone pillars in the Pallava alphabet and the Sanskrit language, considered as the oldest inscription existing in Indonesia. A Brahmin (Hindu) kingdom is attested by the manuscripts, located in Muarakaman, precisely in the bank of Mahakam River. There is no inscription that clearly mentions the name of this kingdom, but popularly known as Kutai Martadipura as has been given by the scholars.

Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of rivers and named the rivers as Ganges. Mahakam River where Muarakaman is located in its bank was most likely considered as the Ganges.

  • Spatana, portus → Bontang

Bontang is a port town in East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan Province, located at the eastern coast of Kalimantan.

  • Procuri, civitas → (Pasir, Pafsir, Passier, Passeir, Passir) → Dayak Paser people

The Dayak Paser is an indigenous ethnic group found in southeastern Kalimantan. Dayak Paser people are possibility have alliance with the Dayak Lawangan, a clump of the Dayak Ot Danum. They formed a kingdom namely Sadungaras (later Pasir Sultanate) from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. Paser is now a regency in East Kalimantan Province.

  • Cumara, island → Semaras, Laut Island

Semaras is a place name located in western coast of Laut Island, South Kalimantan Province.

  • Alaba, island → (Alambai, Calamba, Calambua, Calaubua, Calabo) → Kalambau Islands

Kalambau are islands located off the south coast of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Administratively, the islands belong to the province of South Kalimantan.

  • Arana, island → (Arents, Arentes, Arantel, Keramian) → Karamian Islands

Karamian is an atoll island located off the south coast of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Administratively, the island belongs to the province of East Java.

  • Balaca, island → (Balachaia, Balacuan, Blacana, Ciombra, Solambo, Solonbo, Solombo, Somanbo) → Masalembo Islands

Masalembo are islands located off the south coast of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Administratively, the islands belong to the province of East Java.

  • Bassa, island → (Lubok, Lubeck, Lubec, Lubek, Baboan, Bawean) → Bawean Island

Bawean is an island located off the south coast of Kalimantan and northern Java, in the Java Sea. Administratively, the island belongs to the province of East Java.

  • Calandradua, island → (Quirimanjaba, Quirimajaba, Cariman Iava, Carimun Iava, Carimao Iava, Carimoon Iava, Carimon Java, Carmon Java, Karimoen Djawa) → Karimunjawa Island

Karimunjawa are islands located off the north coast of Java, in the Java Sea. Administratively, the islands belong to the province of Central Java.

  • Erene, island → (Clemencia, Klein Enkhnysen, Enkhnysen) → Enkhnysen Reef

Enkhnysen Reef is a group of coral reefs located in Java Sea off the Tanjung Sambar peninsula near Mangkup Island.

  • Carcus, island → (Banca, Banka, Bangka) → Bangka
  • Phelicus, island → (Bibilitam, Billetoon, Billiton, Belitoeng) → Belitung

The Bangka-Belitung Islands are a province lying off Sumatera. The province comprises two main islands, Bangka and Belitung, and several smaller ones. The Bangka Strait separates Sumatera and Bangka, and the Gaspar Strait separates Bangka and Belitung. The South China Sea is to the north, the Java Sea is to the south, and the province is separated from Kalimantan in the east by the Karimata Strait.

  • Ammine, island → (Anamba, Anambas; Natuna, Naima, Natuma) → Anambas and Natuna Islands

The Anambas and Natuna Islands are located in the South China Sea, off the northwest coast of Kalimantan. Administratively, the islands constitute a regency within the Riau Islands Province.

  • Monache, island → (Timao, Timaon, Timor, Timmoon, Timon, Timoan) → Tioman Island

Tioman Island is an island in Pahang, located off the east coast of the state.

  • Cory, island → (Pulo Ciri, Pulo Cecir, Pulo Cili, Pulo Siri, Pulo Seir) → Cu Lao Re or Ly Son Island

Cu Lao Re or Ly Son is an island off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea.

  • Susuara, island → (Paragoa, Paragua, Paragoya, Paragoy, Paragou, Parago, Palohan, Palawan) → Palawan Island

Palawan Island is the largest island of the Palawan Province, Philippines. The northern coast of the island is along the South China Sea, while the southern coast forms part of the northern limit of the Sulu Sea.

  • Nagadiba, island → (Baqueiraon, Biqueram, Boquerano, Bequeraon, Siboetoe) → Sibutu Island

Sibutu is an island in the province of Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. It lies east of the coast of Sabah, Malaysia.

  • Zibala, island → (Celebra, Celebus, Celebes, Cellebes) → Sulawesi Island

Sulawesi is an Island located east of Kalimantan Island. This is the closest large island that can be seen from the eastern coast of Kalimantan. Several maps mention Celebes also as a place name at the west coast of Sulawesi, but the modern name of this place can not be identified. Ptolemy apparently only get one coordinate point on this island so the map drafter drew it as a small island on the map.

  • Zaba, island → (Paternosters, Chapelat, Sebelasanak) → Sabalana Islands

The Sabalana Islands are an atoll in the Flores Sea, lying just north of the Lesser Sunda Islands, closer to Sumbawa than Sulawesi. Administratively, the atoll belongs to the province of South Sulawesi.

Identified Geographic Names (2)

Figure 69. Identified geographic names

Table 1. Identified geographic names

No Ptolemy Ancient maps Modern
1 Cetęum Cotan, Catalan, Satalang, Salaton, Salatan Tanjung Selatan
2 Nanigiri Nagara, Nagarra Negara
3 Baracus Banjar, Banjarmasin Barito
4 Nacaduma Mandoemai Mandomai
5 Bachi Paco, Bancy, Biajo, Bander, Banjar Banjar
6 Corcobara Tamiampura, Taiampura, Taiapura, Taiaopura, Taiaopuro, Tanjapura Tanjungpura
7 Orneon (bird, fowl or heron) Simanauw Sebangau
8 Azanus Kayan, Kahayan
9 Louis Lao, Lave, Laue, Lava, Laua, Lawa Lawi, Lawai
10 Nubartha Sambuer, Sambaur, Sambor, Sobar, Sambar, Sambahar, Sambbae, Samban Tanjung Sambar
11 Malea Melahoei, Melawai Melawi
12 Anubingara Matan, Mattan, Ketapan Ketapang
13 Priapides Tamaratas, Tamaratos, Tamarates, Tameorato, Iamanatos, Hormata, Carimata Cempedak, Karimata
14 Sindocanda, Sandocandę Succadano, Succaduno, Succudana, Succadana, Socadana, Sucadana Sukadana
15 Poduce Landa, Salimbau Sekadau
16 Soana, Soani Sonee, Senar, Soné, Sone, Sona, Soengi [Sungai] Sambas
17 Anaris Sisar, Soric, Siric Tanjung Sirik
18 Anurogrammum, Anurogrammi Dayak
19 Iogana Malano, Malona, Melanoege Melanau
20 Margana Miri
21 Galiba, Galibi Balaba, Balabac Balabac, Sabah, Balambangan, Teluk Labuk
22 Talakori Cancirao, Cancyra, Canciaro, Cancerao, Cancorao, Cancirau Keningau
23 Modutti, Mudutti Marudo, Malloodoo Marudu, Murut
24 Phasis Sisar, Sisor Kinabatangan (River)
25 Anubingara Lun Bawang
26 Nagadiba Negaradipa
27 Maagrammum, Ganges (holy river) Bamcamanican, Pomanakam, Markaman Muarakaman, Mahakam River
28 Spatana Bontang
29 Procuri Pasir, Pafsir, Passier, Passeir, Passir Paser
30 Cumara Semaras
31 Alaba Alambai, Calamba, Calambua, Calaubua, Calabo Kalambau
32 Arana Arents, Arentes, Arantel, Keramian Karamian
33 Balaca Balachaia, Balacuan, Blacana, Ciombra, Solambo, Solonbo, Solombo, Somanbo Masalembo
34 Bassa Lubok, Lubeck, Lubec, Lubek, Baboan, Bawean Bawean
35 Calandradua Quirimanjaba, Quirimajaba, Cariman Iava, Carimun Iava, Carimao Iava, Carimoon Iava, Carimon Java, Carmon Java, Karimoen Djawa Karimunjawa
36 Erene Clemencia, Klein Enkhnysen, Enkhnysen Enkhnysen
37 Carcus Banca, Banka, Bangka Bangka
38 Phelicus Bibilitam, Billetoon, Billiton, Belitoeng Belitung
39 Ammine Anamba, Anambas Anambas
40 Monache Timao, Timaon, Timor, Timmoon, Timon, Timoan Tioman
41 Cory Pulo Ciri, Pulo Cecir, Pulo Cili, Pulo Siri, Pulo Seir Cu Lao Re
42 Susuara Paragoa, Paragua, Paragoya, Paragoy, Paragou, Parago, Palohan, Palawan Palawan
43 Nagadiba Baqueiraon, Biqueram, Boquerano, Bequeraon, Siboetoe Sibutu
44 Zibala Celebra, Celebus, Celebes, Cellebes Sulawesi
45 Zaba Paternosters, Chapelat, Sebelasanak Sabalana

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Taprobrana and The Search for Atlantis

Plato told the story of Atlantis around 360 BC. About 30 years later, Alexander the Great invaded India and Nearchus and Onesicritus who accompanied him on his campaigns described Taprobana for the first time. About another 30 years later Seleucus Nicator sent Megasthenes as ambassador to Sandracottus (Chandragupta Maurya) in 302 BC where Taprobana was also described.

The story of Atlantis has been an object of fascination among western philosophers and historians. Of course, Alexander the Great was not lost his attention on the supreme land. Alexander was the student of Aristotle, a student of Plato. The descriptions of Atlantis by Plato were very clear and in details, but the search for Atlantis around the Mediterranean Sea did not return any results. It can be presumed that Alexander thought that Atlantis was not in the area but in Far East, in the Indian Ocean. During his invasion to India, Atlantis was allegedly discovered, but this discovery was kept into confidential and obscured with other name, Taprobana by Nearchus and Onesicritus, including its location. His conquering for India was defeated by Chandragupta but an alliance was formed. After his death, Seleucus continued the alliance and the secrecy of Atlantis and Taprobana were still kept. Megasthenes described Taprobana in a little more detailed.

In the reign of Claudius, four people from the island of Taprobana were dispatched as embassy to the Roman. Again, Claudius and the former emperors should not have lost his attention about Atlantis. Being described very clearly and in details, he could think that Taprobana was part of the Atlantis.

The following emperors should know that Taprobana was part of Atlantis but they kept on continuing the secrecy. Taprobana was spoken by some writers during this time. In the reign of Antoninus Pius (138 – 161 AD), Taprobana was mapped in details by Ptolemy. Again, the Roman Empire possibly deliberately kept the location in secret and obscured it. The last part of Critias, a Plato’s dialogue, which allegedly describes more detailed information about Atlantis have been lost. The original maps of Ptolemy were also lost, an indication that they wanted to hide.

In the 6th century AD, the name Taprobana had vanished. After the fall of Rome, European geography entered a dark age more profound than that of most other disciplines, and facts about Taprobana and Atlantis were buried. Many ancient books and scholarly works, especially those housed at the Library at Alexandria, was lost for over a thousand years. At the end of the 1400s, Plato and Ptolemy’s works were rediscovered; Atlantis and Taprobana became popular once again.

The Western colonialization in Asia involving Britain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands was allegedly inspired by the allurement of Taprobana as well as Atlantis. This was sparked early in the 15th century by the search for trade routes to the Far East that led directly to the Age of Discovery, and the introduction of early modern warfare. By the early 16th century, the Age of Sail greatly expanded Western European influence and development of the Spice Trade under colonialism. The cartographers of this era should have known that Taprobrana is Kalimantan, visible in the great similarities of the geographic layout, locations, features, names and descriptions of the island and its surroundings among Ptolemy’s and their maps.

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***

Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2015. All rights reserved.

Hyang Concept, an Ancestor Worshipping

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 9 September 2015

Hyang or personified as Sang Hyang (Kawi, Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese) is an unseen spiritual entity that has supernatural power in ancient Nusantara mythology. This spirit can be either divine or ancestral. In modern Nusantara this term tends to be associated with gods, dewata or God, widely associated with Indonesian Dharmism developed in ancient Java and Bali for more than a millennium ago. However this term actually has an older origin, it has its root in indigenous animism and dynamism beliefs of Austronesian people that inhabit the Nusantara archipelago. The Hyang concept is indigenously developed in archipelago and considered not originated from Indian dharmic religions.

Before the adoption of Dharmism, Buddhism and Islam, the natives of Nusantara archipelago believe in the powerful but unseen spiritual entity that can be either benevolent or malevolent. They also believe that the deceased ancestors are not gone away or disappear completely. The ancestral spirit may gain god-like spiritual power and still involved in their offspring’s worldly affairs. That is why the veneration and reverence to honor ancestor is an important element in the belief system of native ethnic groups, such as Nias, Dayak, Batak, Toraja, Papuan, as well as many other ethnic groups in Nusantara.

The etymology of Hyang is alive in modern affairs. Sanghyang and rahyang refer to gods. Dahyang, danyang or dayang refers to the guardian spirits of certain sacred or haunted places. The Javanese word tiyang means “person” is believed to be derived from the words ti and hyang means the descendant of Hyang. Parahyangan or priangan means the abode of the noble Hyangs. Mojang Priangan refers to a girl from Priangan. Dieng Plateau in Central Java is composed from combined words of dihyang means Hyang’s place in a height. Gunung Padang in West Java is from pada-hyang means the sacred place of Hyangs. The word sembahyang, a synonym with Islamic shalat ritual is originated from combined words sembahhyang means worshipping the Hyang. Some Javanese people believe that the word wayang, an antiquity theater, was derived from the words ma and hyang means towards the Hyang. Some figures of gods and deities in the wayang story have their noble titles beginning with Sang Hyang. The term Negeri Kahyangan means the Land of Hyangs or the heaven land. Sangeang Api (or Sanghyang Api), an active volcano complex in Nusatenggara Islands, was found in 14th century Majapahit script of Nagarakretagama.

Spreads of Hyang Concept
Kahyangan (from kahyangan, a place for the Hyangs), in another term is swarga or surga means heaven, is somewhere in the realm that is trusted by the adherents of some beliefs as the abode of the Hyangs. The term Kahyangan is popular in Java, Bali and Lombok in their doctrines of Kejawen, Sunda Wiwitan and Balinese Dharmism as well as in their antiquity story of the wayang. Kahyangan is similar to Banua Ginjang in the Batak and Kaharingan in the Dayak mythologies.

Java

In central and eastern Javanese mythology, Hyang is an unseen spiritual entity that has supernatural power associated with gods. Batara Guru is a Hyang that rules Kahyangan (from ka-hyang-an, the realm of the Hyangs). He gives revelations, gifts and abilities. Batara Guru has a consort named Dewi Uma and begat some children. In wayang kulit (the antiquity shadow-puppet), Batara Guru is the only character whose feet face forward, with four hands, pointed canine teeth, a blue neck and paralyzed legs. He always rides Lembu Andini the divine cow, and is also known by several names including Sang Hyang Manikmaya, Sang Hyang Caturbuja, Sang Hyang Otipati, Sang Hyang Jagadnata, Sang Hyang Nilakanta, Sang Hyang Trinetra and Sang Hyang Girinata. Batara Guru has two brothers, Sang Hyang Maha Punggung and Sang Hyang Ismaya. Their parents are Sang Hyang Tunggal and Dewi Rekatawati. Batara Guru is the father of Dewi Sri, the Rice Goddess in native Javanese mythology.

Batara Guru

Sunda

For the Sunda Wiwitan beliefs of the Sundanese (western Java), a supreme god named Sang Hyang Kersa created the universe and also other gods such as mother goddess Batari Sunan Ambu and Batara Guru. Batara Guru rules the Kahyangan or swargaloka as the king of gods, while Sang Hyang Kersa remains unseen. According to Sundanese legends, the Parahyangan (from parahyangan, the place for the noble Hyangs) highland, also known as Priangan, was magically created when the Hyangs (gods) are happy and smiling. To fill the land, Sang Hyang Kersa created animals and demons, while the myth of Sang Hyang Sri (also known as Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri) explains the origin of rice and plants on earth as told in Wawacan Sulanjana, an ancient Sundanese manuscript contains the Sundanese mythology. According to the Sundanese legend, the Priangan Plateau was primordially a lake called Danau Hyang (“Hyang Lake”).

Sunda Batara Guru

Bali

Balinese Dharmism adherers believe that all the creations of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa will face the cycle of birth, life and death. The essence of power of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa is expressed in a set of shrines called Sanggah Pemerajan at outside of every dharmic house. The empty seat (palinggih) at the top of the Padmasana, the main seat, is for Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa.In Balinese Dharmism perspective, the supreme god is known as Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (also known as Acintya or Sang Hyang Tunggal), which means the Almighty God. Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa is associated with the concept of Brahman, that their religion had a single god, though there are various manifestations. Three well known manifestations of Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, namely Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa, which are named as Tri Murti; Brahma is the creator (utpatti), Wisnu is the caretaker (sthiti) and Siwa is the destroyer (praline). Other noted manifestation is Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice.

Acintya_BaliSanggah Pamerajan

Dayak

In Kaharingan, a folk religion professed by many Dayaks in Kalimantan, their supreme God is called Ranying Hatalla Langit, their ancestral spirits (divine man) Sangiang, their ancient language Sangen and their ancestors Tato-hiang. In addition, Kaharingan has ritual offerings called Tiwah, place of worshipping called Balai Basarah or Balai Kaharingan and holy books called Panaturan, Talatah Basarah (group of prayers) and Tawar (a guide to seek God’s help by giving rice). The main festival of Kaharingan is the Tiwah festival, which lasts for thirty days, and involves the sacrifice of many animals like buffalos, cows, pigs, and chickens as offerings to the Supreme God.

In their religion, the universe is divided into three divisions of life: underworld, human nature and heaven, as symbolized in a tree called Batang Garing.

Batang Garing

Among the many tribes of Dayaks in Kalimantan, those living in the upper reaches of the rivers in the province of Central Kalimantan are the Dayak Ngaju, the Lawangan, the Ma’anyan and the Ot Danum, known as the Barito Dayaks, named after the large Barito river. Among these, the most dominant are the Ngaju, who inhabit the Kahayan river basin by the present city of Palangkaraya. In practice the Ngaju focus on the supernatural world of spirits, including ancestral spirits.

The Kaharingan religion is correlated to the Hyang concept. The names Ranying, Sangiang, Sangen, Tato-hiang and Kahayan are phonetically in close resemblance to and derived from the words “hyang”, “ra-hyang”, “sang-hyang” and “ka-hyang-an”.

Bugis

The Buginese (southern Sulawesi) developed an extraordinary creation myth called Galigo. According to Sure’ Galigo (an epic of creation myth of the Bugis), Datu Patoto’ is the supreme god; with his wife Datu Palinge’ begat Batara Guru who was sent to earth to cultivate it as human being. His divine name was La Toge’ Langi’. He had at least ten children from his five concubines, but only one son from his beloved consort, We Nyili’ Timo’. He is the father of Batara Lattu’ and grand father of Sawerigading, the main characters in the Buginese Sure’ Galigo. He is also the father of Sangiang Serri, the goddess of rice and fertility in Buginese mythology. However, mankind does not descend from them but from their servants and the servants of other divine rulers.

Sawerigading

The present of Batara Guru and Sangiang Serri in the Buginese mythology at least shows its correlation to the Hyang concept.

Toraja

In the Torajan (central Sulawesi) mythology, their ancestors came down from heaven using stairs, which were then used by the Torajans as a communication medium with Puang Matua, the creator and supreme god. The cosmos, according to aluk (the way), is divided into the upper world (heaven), the world of man (earth), and the underworld. At first, heaven and earth were married, and then there was darkness, a separation, and finally the light. Animals live in the underworld, which is represented by rectangular space enclosed by pillars, the earth is for mankind, and the heaven world is located above, covered with a saddle-shaped roof. Other Torajan gods include Pong Banggai di Rante (god of Earth), Indo’ Ongon-Ongon (a goddess who can cause earthquakes), Pong Lalondong (god of death), and Indo’ Belo Tumbang (goddess of medicine); and there are many more.

Batak

In Batak (northern Sumatera) mythology, the universe is divided into three worlds, namely the upper world called Banua Ginjang, the middle world called Banua Tonga and the underworld called Banua Toru. The middle world, where humans live, is also an intermediary between the upper world and the underworld. The upper world is the abode of the gods, while the underworld is the abode of demons and spirits of the earth and fertility. Colors commonly used by the Batak people for household appliances, Hauduk, Ulos cloth and wood carvings are white, red and black are symbols of the three-world.

The creator of the world in the Batak mythology is Mulajadi na Bolon, assisted by a series of other deities which are divided into seven levels in the upper world. Mulajadi na Bolon has three children namely Debata Guru, Debata Soripada and Debata Mangala Bulan; they are known as Debata Sitolu Sada (three gods in one) or Debata na Tolu (three gods). The three gods are under the control of the supreme god Mulajadi na Bolon. It was told that Mulajadi na Bolon sent his daughter Tapionda to earth at the foot of Pusuk Buhit mountain. Tapionda later became the mother of the first king of Batak.

Other noted gods are Debata Idup (the god of life) and Pane na Bolon who rules the middle world. Many other gods are associated with the dharmic gods; among others are Boraspati ni Nato and Boru Saniang Naga. In addition, there are spirits that abode lakes, rivers and mountains.

The term debata is identical to dewata or hyang and there is single supreme god so that the Batak mythology is correlated to the Hyang concept. The present of Debata Guru in the Batak mythology at least shows its correlation to the concept.

Rejang

Rejangese is one of the oldest ethnic groups in Sumatera living mainly on the southwest coast of the island, on the cool-weather slopes of the Barisan mountain range, in the province of Bengkulu, Indonesia. Most of the Rejangese inhabit the regions of Rejang Lebong, Kepahiang, Central Bengkulu, North Bengkulu and Lebong Regencies. Megalithic sites are ubiquitous in this area influenced by the Basemah culture in southwestern Sumatera.

The Rejangese called them Hejang. Rejangese language is not obviously close to other Malayo-Polynesian languages. Rejangese have their script, known as the Rejang Kaganga alphabet, somewhat similar to Phoenician alphabet. There is no connection to the Dayak Rejang inhabiting eastern and northern Kalimantan.

In their culture, rituals are performed on the occasion of the opening of forest land for slash-and-burn farming (a ritual called kedurai agung) and during the rest of the cycle of rice cultivation. The most important ritual, kedurai mundang biniak, is performed just before the sowing of rice. On this occasion the rice goddess, Nyang Serai, leave the rice and the village and goes to heaven in order to take care of the rainfall. The festivities include a dance performed every evening by seven boys and seven girls from different clans as an expression of clan exogamy. Mundang biniak is held over seven days, and use to be performed only once every three to seven years. In other years seed is blessed by a smaller ritual, membasuh biniak. The ritual cycle ends at the harvest, when Nyang Serai returns to the village and ensures that the rice spirit will not leave the rice being stored in the barns.

The Rejang culture is correlated to the Hyang concept that in the rituals they worshipping the rice goddess, Nyang Serai, identical to Sanghyang Sri, Sangiang Serri and Dewi Sri in other cultures. Some people believe that Rejang is derived from the words ra and hyang, meaning the noble Hyang. A region named Kepahiang as well as Hiang (in the neighboring Kerinci region) having the same pre-historic age also can be correlated.

Nias

Nias is an island off the western coast of Sumatera. In their mythology, the universe is made of three superposed worlds. The upper world, Tetehöli Ana’a, is the model, the place of origin of the gods, in the sky, in the clouds and long ago near the earth. That world has several villages with different people who are often opposed to each other. Lowalangi is the god of this upper world. Silewe Nazarata, his sister and/or wife, gave knowledge to humans: she taught them how to cultivate fields, build houses and carve statues. The underworld is dark, sometimes identified with a cave or a large hole peopled with evil spirits. From it come earthquakes. It is the home of Lature Danö, the elder brother of Lowalangi. The middle world, or world of humans, was created by the gods or in certain versions by one of them by means of their skin scales.

***

Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2015. All rights reserved.

The Biblical Garden of Eden was in Kalimantan Island

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 7 September 2015


Contents

Background
The Garden of Eden
The Four Rivers of Paradise
The Noah Flood
End Note


Background

In Genesis 2:10-14: “And a river ‘going out’ of Eden to water the garden; and from there was parted, and became into four ‘heads’. The name of the first is Phison: that it winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is ‘bedolach’ and the ‘gemstone’. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same that it winds the whole land of Kush. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that it goes in front of Asshur. And the fourth river is Perat.

The quest for pinpointing the exact location of the Biblical Garden of Eden and the four rivers is lasting more than two millennia, almost rivals the quest for the location of Atlantis, both in theory and in practice. Those searches for Eden had proven difficult due to uncertainty in identifying the rivers. Nobody had been able to look at modern maps of the regions mentioned in Genesis and figure out exactly where the Garden of Eden was.

At the head of the Persian Gulf by the present topography, only one river of the four, the Euphrates (Perat), is known by the same name in modern times. It presently originates in the mountains of Turkey and terminates when it merges with the Tigris River near the Iraq/Kuwait border region. Many have speculated that the Tigris is the river Hiddekel. This has led to speculation that the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in Turkey. This is assumed because the present headwaters of the Euphrates River originate in Turkey, as do the headwaters of the Tigris. Others have proposed that the other end of the Euphrates River, where it meets the Tigris, may be the true location. This requires interpreting the Tigris river as one of the other three (ie the Hiddekel), then interpreting a tributary confluence of rivers as a river head, and then locating at least two more rivers (or old river beds) as the other missing two. Having done so, they then claim that the Garden of Eden was near present day Kuwait. This is a convenient solution, but not one supported by the literal wording of the Bible or the geological and geographical realities of what river “head” means, ie headwaters or source of origin.

Several clues indicate that the Pishon and Gihon were located in Egypt or Arabia. The name Havilah, where the Pishon river is said to flow, means “sandy land” (Sarna, 1991). To an ancient Israelite audience, the explicit reference to an abundance of gold and precious stones evokes images of the Egyptian royalty from which they were birthed. This association also fits with the reference to “Kush”, identified later in Genesis as one ancestor of the Egyptians, hence it is believed the Gihon to be the famous Nile River. However, if these were indeed the Pison and Gihon rivers, two of four that flowed out of the Garden of Eden, they do not correspond with the present-day headwater source of the Euphrates or Tigris up in Turkey. The respective watersheds of the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile rivers are separated by hundreds of miles, and these rivers are fed by completely different mountain ranges.

So, where was the Biblical Garden of Eden located?

It was in Southeast Asia that man, after emigrating from the semi-deserted savannas of Africa, first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented agriculture and civilization. All this took place during the Pleistocene, the last of the geological eras, which ended a scant 11,600 years ago. With the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, the immense glaciers that covered the whole of the northern half of North America and Eurasia melted away. Their waters drained to the sea, whose level rose by the estimated amount of about 100 – 150 meters (dos Santos, 2005).

As the Ice Age ended, there was sea water rise drowned forever the huge continental shelf of Southeast Asia, namely the Sundaland, and caused a population dispersal which fertilized the Neolithic cultures of China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, thus creating the first civilizations. There were three catastrophic and rapid rises in sea level. The last of these, which finished shortly before the start of civilization in Mesopotamia, may have been the one that was remembered. The Southeast Asian contributions to the building of the first cities in Mesopotamia may not have been solely technological. While they may have brought the new ideas and skills of megalithic construction cereal domestication, sea-faring, astronomy, navigation, trade and commerce, they may also have introduced the tools to harness and control the labor of the farmers and artisans. These included magic, religion, and concepts of state, kingship and social hierarchy. Uniquely shared folklore shows that counterparts and originals for nearly every Middle Eastern and European mythological archetype, including the Flood, can be found in the islands of Indonesia and the southwest Pacific. Southeast Asia is revealed as the original Garden of Eden and the Flood as the force which drove people from Paradise (Oppenheimer, 1997).

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The Garden of Eden

In Genesis 2:8: “The Lord God planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” and in Genesis 11:2: “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

The land of Shinar is identified as Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Hebrew Shene neharot (“two rivers”), Hebrew Shene arim (“two cities”), or Akkadian Shumeru. The people of Mesopotamia were a dispersal from Southeast Asia (“the east”) caused by catastrophic and rapid rises of sea level in Sundaland (“they journeyed from the east”). Their land of origins, Eden, was therefore in Sundaland (“a garden in the east, in Eden”).

In Genesis 2:9: “Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

In Genesis 2:19-20: “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

The Lord God created the Garden of Eden specifically for Adam, the first man, whom Lord God had formed. Thus, the Garden of Eden was perfect. It offered both beauty and sustenance, being home to every tree “that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” and a source of freshwater from the river to drink.

The Garden of Eden could not be found because everyone had been looking in the wrong place. In a hypothesis, the author identifies a location of the Garden of Eden as a vast plain surrounded by mountain ranges in southern part of Kalimantan Island, as shown on the figure below.

4 Rivers of Paradise_75%

The Indonesian territory of Kalimantan makes up 2/3 of Kalimantan Island. Well known for its tropical forests, rich natural resources; and exotic, endemic and diverse flora and fauna, Kalimantan offers a unique, unexplored world of its own. This territory has a number of nature reserves to protect its unique flora and fauna. Kersikluway is where the very rare Black Orchid (Colongenia Pandurata) grows, located upstreams the Mahakam River, East Kalimantan. Bontang, in the regency of Kutai, has rare flora and fauna. The Kutai National Park near Bontang is worth visiting to see scenery especially those at Berasbasah. Tanjungputing National Park in Central Kalimantan is the oldest conservation site of Kalimantan’s flora and fauna. The park is inhabited by Orangutans, Owa-owa, Bekantan and other primates. Also found here the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center which is supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In West Kalimantan, Gunungpalung National Park located in the Ketapang regency is home to miscellaneous flora and fauna. The Rayapasi mountain located in the Singkawang regency is also an interesting place to visit to see the Rafflesia or giant flower. Singkawang is also a nature reserve. The forest of Sanggau is worth a visit where hot springs, lakes and caves can be found. The other nature reserves are the forests of Baning and Kelam Hill in the Sintang regency. While in Kapuashulu, there is the Bentuang forest. In South Kalimantan, there is the Kaget island, home to a wide variety of birds and monkeys, most notably the humorous longnosed proboscis monkeys.

The region hypothesized as the Garden of Eden is populated by the Dayaks, the indigenous inhabitants of Kalimantan. The center of the region is covered with tropical forest, which produces rattan, resin and valuable timber such as Ulin and Meranti. The southern lowlands are dominated by peatland swamps that intersect with many rivers.

The region’s climate is wet weather equatorial zone with an eight-month rainy season, and 4 months of dry season. Rainfall or precipitation is 2,800 – 3,400 mm per year with an average of 145 rainy days annually.

The Muller-Schwaner Mountains stretch from the north-east of the region to the south-west, 80% of which is covered in dense forest, peatland swamps, mangroves, rivers, and traditional agriculture land. Highland areas in the north-east are remote and not easily accessible. Non-volcanic mounts are scattered in this area including Kengkabang, Samiajang, Liangpahang and Ulugedang. The Meratus Mountains are situated approximately along the eastern part of the region. The mountains have mist-laced, river-crossed peaks, dense jungles, steep valleys and jagged karst formations. The mountains are inhabited by the “semi-nomadic” Meratus Dayak people, whose strong religious customs play to the soundtrack of the shaman’s drum.

The above descriptions indicate that the region deserves to be called as the Garden of Eden as in the Bible.

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The Four Rivers of Paradise

The Bible says that “a river ‘going out’ of Eden” and then does something that most rivers do not do; specifically, split into four separate ‘heads’ or rivers that flowed downstream, all fed from a common single river source. Almost all rivers start from a single source or are fed by multiple sources (tributaries). The verb in Hebrew is a present participle instead of the imperfect. Also, a noun phrase at the beginning of a verse is unusual. Again, the words “and from there” come before the verb “was parted” show that this verb has no subject expressed.

Those singularities are perceived because the verse is interpreted verbatim. The present participle form of the verb implies that the words are in a phrase, the “river going out of a region (‘Eden’)”, that can be interpreted as the “hydrographical region”, the “hydrological region” or the “river catchment region”. The next phrases again affirm this interpretation, “from there was parted, and became into four ‘heads’”, that can be interpreted as “which consisted of four main river sub-catchments (sub-regions)”. The interpreted phrases were seemingly not found in the original language of the verse. So, the verse can be interpreted as “The hydrological region of Eden consists of four main river sub-catchments.”

The naming of the Biblical rivers was allegedly derived from the geographical alignment of the rivers. The numbering of the rivers was also in accordance with the order, from west to east. The simple present form of the verbs denotes that the conditions are not changed overtime. The four rivers are identified as Kahayan for Pishon, Kapuas for Gihon, Barito for Hiddekel and Negara for Perat as in the above figure, as discussed below.

  1. Phison

In Genesis 2:11-12: “The name of the first is Phison: that it winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is ‘bedolach’ and the ‘gemstone’.

The Hebrew name for Phison is Pîšōn (פִּישׁוֹן) which means “increase” (noun) and could be derived from pûsh (פּוּשׁ) which means “to spring about”, “to be dispersed”, “to be scattered” or “to be spread”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean that the river is “dispersed”, “refracted” or “deflected”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Kahayan River is deflected westward, as seen from downstream side.

At about the middle of Kahayan River, that part of the river is winding. The winding of a river signify that the topography where the river traverses is flat and tends to be used as a center of community.  So that Havilah could be at this site. Havilah is described in lengthiest in Bible compared to the other places in the Eden, implies that this place is the most important or populated among the others. This place can be easily accessible from the southern coast through Kahayan River for the outsiders to visit. The present capital of Central Kalimantan Province, Palangkaraya, is situated in the area too.

The Bible says that there is gold in Kavilah and the gold is good. Kahayan River is renowned for its gold mining. A place named Gunungmas, meaning “the hill of gold”, in the middle of Kahayan River, is rich of gold and some other minerals such as silver, copper, iron, zinc, tin, platinum and zircon. Today, the gold reserves in the area are approximately 45 million tons. Besides some other classic names of the island, Kalimantan bore the name of Nusa Kencana meaning “the island of gold”, probably at Gunungmas as this site is easily accessible from the southern coast through Kahayan River. Gold and zircon are abundant in southern Kalimantan as these are the mainstay of the region at this time.

The Bible mentions “bedolach” as a product of Kavilah. Its Hebrew word is bedôlach (בּדלח), probably derived from bâdal (בּדל) meaning “to divide” (in various senses literally or figuratively, “separate”, “distinguish”, “differ”, “select”, etc) or a foreign word. “Bedolach” is among the Biblical words which the meanings are unclear. According to the Septuagint, is the carbuncle or crystal; according to others, the pearl, or a particular kind of gum. The last is the more probable, regarding the various Greek forms of the word bdella (Βδέλλα) and bdellion (Βδέλλιον), a semi-transparent oleo-gum resin.

Southern Kalimantan is renowned for its producer of natural gum sap locally known as “jelutung” (Malaysian “jelutong”) tapped from the same name of trees (Dyera spp) and is the largest exporter of the commodity in the world. Its natural distribution is scattered locales in low-elevation tropical evergreen forest. The kind of tree which grows in the swamp (Dyera pollyphylla) is an important source of chewing gum. Besides, “jelutung” sap is an industrial material for adhesives, varnishes, racing tires, waterproofing and insulating materials.

This region is also famous for a gutta-percha tree locally known as “nyatoh” or “nyatu” (Palaquium spp). Its habitat is coastal, lowland mixed dipterocarp, swamp and montane forests. Dayak communities in the region utilizing “nyatu” sap as a raw material for making handicrafts, from an epithet that can only be found in the region.

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The Bible mentions “gemstone”, also as a product of Kavilah. Its Hebrew word in the Bible is shôham (שׁהם) from an unused root probably meaning “to blanch”; “a gem” or “a precious stone”.

The story of Kalimantan’s rich gemstone resources has reached worldwide fame. Kalimantan, as they are known in the past and the West, is indeed the sources of many natural gemstones and have been documented well in many literatures. Amethyst or locally named “kecubung”, a violet jewel, is specifically found and renowned in southern Kalimantan. A place named Martapura located in the region is famous from the early past for its jewelry industry. Zircon – a gemstone with natural colors varies between colorless, yellow-golden, red, brown, blue, and green – is abundantly found along the alluvial deposits of inland rivers in southern and western Kalimantan, as a byproduct of gold mining activities.

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  1. Gihon

In Genesis 2:13: “The name of the second river is Gihon; the same that it winds the whole land of Kush.

The Hebrew name for Gihon is gı̂ychôn or gichôn (גּחון גּיחון) which means “bursting forth”, could be derived from primitive root of gı̂yach or gôach (גּח גּיח) which means “to gush forth (as water)”, “to burst forth”, “to draw forth”, “to bring forth” or “to break forth”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean that the river is multiply “broken forth”, “come apart”, “divided” or “branched”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Kapuas River is evenly branched into three tributaries that look like a burst.

At the confluence of the tributaries and at a distance downstream, that part of the river is winding. Kush could be at this site and could become the second important place after Kavilah.

  1. Hiddekel

In Genesis 2:14: “The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it goes in front of Asshur.

The Hebrew name for Hiddekel is chiddeqel (חדּקל) which means “rapid” or “darting”, probably derived from chad dékel (דֶּקֶל חַד) meaning “a sharp and swift arrow” (Keil and Delitzsch), or of foreign origin. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean “a swift arrow trajectory”, “a long and direct trajectory” or simply “long and direct”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Barito River is long, direct and almost straightly aligned. The verb “goes” is applied instead of “winds” as in the other two rivers, implies that the river is in direct or straight alignment.

The Bible says that Hiddekel goes in front of Asshur. The Hebrew word qidmâh (קדמה) can mean “in front of”, “over against” or “on the east of”. So, instead of “goes in front of Asshur” the phrase can be interpreted as “goes on the east of Asshur”.

  1. Perat

In Genesis 2:14: “The fourth river is the Perat.

The Hebrew name for Perat is perâth (פּרת) which means “to break forth”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean “to diverge” or “to branch”. Looking at the geography of the region, Negara River is a branch or tributary of the Barito River.

The Bible decreases the description of this river, without explanation of the alignment or a nearby place name, and puts it in the last order. This could mean that Perat is the least important river compared to the other three in the region.

Perat is generally associated with the Euphrates, the Greek manner of pronouncing the Hebrew perâth, the first syllable being simply a help in sounding the double consonant. Also, Perat finds its equivalent in the Assyrian Purattu and the Old Persian Ufratu. Names similar to these may be found in various places. They cannot prove much more than resemblance in language, and that may be sometimes very remote. Several like names occur in profane history. Geography affords numerous examples of the transference of names from one place to another along the line of migration. We may therefore expect names to travel with the tribes that bear them or love them, until they come to their final settlements.

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The Noah Flood

The Genesis flood narrative makes up chapters 6–9. The narrative indicates that God intended to return the Earth to its pre-Creation state of watery chaos by flooding the Earth because of humanity’s misdeeds and then remake it using the microcosm of Noah’s ark. Noah in Hebrew is nôakh (נוח), from the root n-w-ḥ (נ־ו־ח) or n-ḥ (נ־ח); and pronounced Aramaic nuħ.

It is highly probable that Noah and Manu, the name of the flood hero in the traditions of India, were the same individual. Manu, like Noah, is said to have built an ark in which eight people were saved. Manu and Noah were both the father of all post-flood mankind. The Noah Flood story in Genesis matches the Gilgamesh flood myth so closely that “few doubt that it derives from a Mesopotamian account”.

The word Manu is related to the Germanic Mannus, the founder of the West Germanic peoples, mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania. Mannus is also the name of the Lithuanian Noah. The same name may even be reflected in the Egyptian Menes (founder of the first dynasty of Egypt) and Minos (founder and first king of Crete). Minos was also said in Greek mythology to be the son of Zeus and ruler of the sea. Anu appears in Sumerian as the god of the firmament, and the rainbow was called “the great bow of Anu”, which seems a clear reference to Noah. In Egyptian mythology Nu was the god of waters who sent an inundation to destroy mankind. In southern Kalimantan folklore, Maharaja Bunu is the first man who inhabited the region.

The Sanskrit form manusa, Indonesian manusia, Swedish manniska, Gothic manna and English man are closely related, meaning “human being”. The aboriginals of Japan are called Ainu, a word which also means “man”.

In the Sioux language, it took the form minne, meaning “water”. In the Assiniboine language, minnetoba meant “water prairie”. However, this word may also have been derived from the Cree and Ojibiva-Saulteaux languages, which meant “the place of the Great Spirit”. Manitou (“the Great Spirit”) was the chief god among Algonquins. The name of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, comes from the Nahuatl managuac, which means “surrounded by ponds”. The ancient Javanese banu and the Dayak Barito banyu mean “water”. There is Ino, a sea-goddess in Greek mythology, and the Greek word naiade, meaning “river nymph”. Further, Baruna or Waruna in the Indonesian archipelago which given the title of the Water God, is the ruler of the seas and oceans – in later time considered as a manifestation of Brahman in dharmic mythology.

The original Sanskrit word for “ship” is nau. This root has developed even in English into such words as “navy”, “nautical”, “nausea”, etc. In Norse mythology, Njord was the god of ships, living at Noatun, the harbor of ships. In this language, the syllable “noa” is related to the Icelandic nor, meaning “ship”.

Thus, Noah and the waters of the great Flood are not only recalled in the ancient traditions of all nations, but their names have also become incorporated in many and varied ways into the very languages of his descendants. The trails are tenuous and often almost obliterated, so that some of the inferred connections are speculative and possibly mistaken, but the correlations are too numerous to be only coincidental, thus adding yet one more evidence for the historicity of the worldwide flood.

The local folklore of southern Kalimantan tells a story resembles the Noah. In Panaturan, the sacred folklore of Ngaju Dayak inhabiting southern Kalimantan region, the first human who descended to this world is named Maharaja Bunu. At first he lived in a divine world at Lewu Nindan Tarung with his triplets namely Maharaja Sangiang and Maharaja Sangen. The triplets are the children of Manyamei Tunggul Garing Janjahunan Laut and his wife Kameloh Putak Bulau Janjulen Karangan, the first humans that were created by Ranying Mahatala Langit, the supreme God. Maharaja Bunu was descended to Pantai Danum Kalunen (this world) using a ship namely Palangka Bulau Lambayung Nyahu or simply Palangka, on Samatuan Hill, from where his descendants were spread out to fill the earth. According to Panaturan, the hill is located between Kahayan Rotot and Kahayan Katining. The Palangka was loaded with supplies necessaries for life, such as farming and hunting tools, weapon making tools, rice seeds, fruit and plants seedlings, as well as livestock breeds. Palangkaraya, meaning the Great Palangka, is now the capital of Central Kalimantan Province.

A vast plain dominates the topography of the southern Kalimantan region which is level, smooth and even. The slope of the ground surface is mostly less than 1% declining southward towards the Java Sea and almost no visible mound on the whole plain. The area of the plain is located in a tropical rain forest region, has high precipitation rate over the year, has warm temperature over the year, mostly swampy and has many large rivers and tributaries so that the region is fertile and rich of food and daily necessity resources.

Rivers are flowing on the plain; Barito, Kapuas, Murung, Kahayan and Sebangau Rivers are among them. The regimes of these rivers should have been changed over the past thousands of years due to processes of flooding, sedimentation, river bed movement and meandering on a very flat plain. Interchanges of flows and orders among the rivers might also occur. Numerous transverse passages connecting one river to the other exist in the region, some of them were built or rehabilited in recent times. The passage is known locally as “anjir”, a canal linking two rivers as part of the transportation network. The canals are also used as primary tidal swamp irrigation canals supplying water to and draining from the cultivated lands.

The plain is elevated from 0 to about 40 meters above the average sea water level.  Being in a flat and low plain, the tidal affect of the sea may reach as far as 160 kilometers away from the coast.

In Genesis 7:12: “The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

In Genesis 7:12-20: “The flood was on the earth forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose up above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The water prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed upward and the hills were covered fifteen cubits deep.” 15 cubits is approximately 23 feet or 6.8 meters.

Kalimantan Island is among the regions on the Earth having the highest yearlong rainfall. The probabilistic study of rainfall in the region of southern Kalimantan showed that it may reach as high as 500 millimeters per day for a 100-year return period and even higher on the mountainous regions. Its rainfall catchment region is a bulb-like shape where the mountainous upstream area is wider – with highest rainfall – and the downstream, on the plain, is narrower. Therefore, flood catastrophe risk on this plain is extremely high, aggravated by its catchment shape, rainfall distribution, rainfall intensity; level, even, smooth and low plain; and farther reach of sea tides. Everyone can imagine how worst was the extraordinary Biblical Flood from a 40-day and 40-night rainfall on this region.  The Noah Flood could have happened here.

Due to the high level of flood risk in the region, it was possible that the floods had several times repeated for the recent thousands of years. Civilization that grew back after the flood will be swept back in the next flood, returned to its original nature and humanity who survived spread to other parts of the world.

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End Note

Garden of Eden and Atlantis are among the memories by the Mesopotamian and Egyptian about the land of origin of the first civilization, before population dispersal caused by catastrophic and rapid rises in sea level in the Pleistocene Ice Age. Mesopotamia and Egypt are among the oldest civilizations after the Ice Age which had writing traditions. Other civilizations continue their memories with myths and legends that collectively share the same stories across distances and time.

Bill Hanson (2006) has written a work that links the Garden of Eden with Atlantis. He identifies five similarities between the two accounts:
• Both prehistoric locations are regarded as “lost paradises”
• The four rivers of Eden are reflected in the four waterways of Poseidon the island capital of Atlantis.
• Atlantis started with ten kings and the Bible speaks of ten patriarchs.
• Zeus destroyed Atlantis because mortals and gods mated, whereas the Bible records the mating of the “sons of God” and human females.
• Atlantis was flooded just as the Age of the Patriarchs ended with the flood of Noah.

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Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2015. All rights reserved.