Ancient Sailendra dynasty in Java - Reconstructing the scene of Borobudur

Archaeologists unearth remnants of ancient Sailendra dynasty in Java

(Read the article on one page)

The Sailendra (or officially Sailendravamça) is the name of an influential Indonesian dynasty that emerged in 8th century Java. The Sailendras were active promoters of Mahayana Buddhism and covered the Kedu Plain of Central Java with Buddhist monuments, including the world famous Borobudur. Now archaeologists have announced the discovery of building foundations and artifacts which they believe belong to the ancient Sailendra (“Lord of the Mountain”) civilization.

A joint team comprising archaeologists and experts from the National Archeological Center in Jakarta, Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University’s (UGM) Archeological Center, Bandung Institute of Technology’s (ITB) Geomorphology Department and the French Cultural Center in Jakarta, has been conducting an excavation in Ngreco hamlet for the past week to trace the remnants of the Buddhist Sailendra dynasty.

To date the excavation has produced pieces of masonry, artifacts, and a jaladwara waterway segment which was part of a sewage system commonly found in bath houses during ancient times. The tip of the jaladwara is usually the shape of a dragon’s head. More recently, the team also uncovered the foundation of what is believed to be a temple structure. Evidence suggests that the findings date back to the 7 th century when the Sailendra dynasty was flourishing.

The Sailendra dynasty was founded in 752 AD by King Bhanu with the influence of the Buddha Mahayana. Most of the historical information about the Sailendras comes from stone inscriptions found at Buddhist temple sites, from oral tradition, and from mentions in the records of other states.

ing and queen with subjects, bas relief from the Shailendra dynasty

King and queen with subjects, bas relief from the Shailendra dynasty, 8th century; in Borobudur, central Java, Indon. Photo source: Wikipedia

The dynasty was marked by a great cultural renaissance associated with the introduction of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and it attained a high level of artistic expression in the many temples and monuments built under its rule. One of its greatest legacies is the Borobudur temple complex in Magelang. 

Borobudur temple

Borobudur temple. Photo source: Wikipedia

Except for its legacy of monuments, little is known of the dynasty. It apparently emanated from the agricultural lowlands of interior Java but extended its real power to the north-western coasts of the island, from which its emissaries traded with and raided the Malay peninsula and Indochina.

According to the traditional account, the Sailendra kingdom came to an abrupt end when a prince from the rival Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty, named Rakai Pikatan, displaced them in 832. Rakai Pikatan, who was the crown prince of the Sanjaya Dynasty, married Pramodhawardhani, a daughter of Samaratunga, king of Sailendra.

Featured image: A painting by G.B. Hooijer (c. 1916—1919) reconstructing the scene of Borobudur during its heyday when the Sailendra dynasty was in power. Photo source: Wikipedia

Location: Ngreco hamlet, Kesongo village, Tuntang district, Semarang regency, Central Java.

By April Holloway


Is there anyone out there who can recommend sites in South-East Asia to go and see? I have a wistful belief that that area of the world is still unexplored to me because I've not really read any books about Asian archaeology. I almost feel I'm too late to learn about it but I'm sure it's really very deep in knowledge already and there are probably thousands of articles to read. Maybe that's the problem. If anyone has even three places they would recommend visiting, I'd love to hear them, and thank you. 

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

The Lycurgus Cup.
A strange chalice made its way into the British Museum’s collection in the 1950s. It is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman artifact called the Lycurgus Cup. The image on the chalice is an iconic scene with King Lycurgus of Thrace...

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article