Traces of ‘Bali Kuna’ kingdom at Museum of Archeology
Traces of human existence and culture from the pre-historic and historic eras in Bali can still be seen at the Museum of Archeology, also known as the Museum Gedung Arca, in Bedulu, near the Tampaksiring Palace in Gianyar regency.
The museum, which is next to the Bali Ancient Heritage Conservation Agency (Balai Pelestarian Peninggalan Purbakala Bali), is located in Bedulu village, about 30 kilometers from Denpasar and 15 minutes from Ubud, and stands between two rivers, Tukad Petanu and Tukad Pakerisan.
The villagers’ homes, the temples of Pusering Jagat, Penataran Sasih and Samuan Tiga, and the rice fields in Bedulu village and the nearby village of Pejeng are widely known as sites where various ancient Balinese artifacts have been unearthed.
Across from the museum are paddy fields, while art galleries stand along the roadsides heading to the museum. Another cultural preservation site in the vicinity is the famous Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), which demonstrates both Hindu and Buddhist heritage.
Some of the artifacts that have been unearthed from these areas are being conserved in the archeology museum, while others are kept in the spots where they were found, due to the villagers’ belief in their sacredness.
Founded in 1974, the museum displays collections categorized in two groups: historical and pre-historical. The pre-historical collections date back to the stone age.
The pre-historical era covers the period including the Paleolithic, with various working tools made of stone, the Mesolithic, when bones and horns were the materials used for everyday equipment, as well as the Megalithic culture marked by findings of huge sarcophagi.
The sarcophagi were found in several regencies across Bali. They are stone caskets, commonly used to bury important and respected figures of that time. Dozens of sarcophagi in various forms are estimated to date back between 2,000 and 2,500 years.
Bronze bells (genta) with intricately carved details, such as the astamuka (eight faces) and caturmuka (four faces), used as religious tools in the 15th century, have also been uncovered.
The traces of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms are also on display, in the forms of arca and stupa. At one of the museum’s display rooms, some of the clay stupa show various Buddhist mantras.
According to the museum staff, the daily visitors to the museum are mostly European and American tourists. Around five to 10 come every day, thus the museum is relatively quiet. Meanwhile, during school holidays, most of the visitors are Balinese and non-Balinese students on study tours. No entrance fee is applied to visitors.
The information provided about the various collections is not in great detail, with only general information stating the name of the object and where it was found, in English and Indonesian. If you wish to have a tour guide, you will need to request one ahead of time.
Photos by Anton Muhajir