Cultural Landscape Heritage Management in Indonesia: An Archaeological Perspective

by Daud Aris Tanudirjo
Jurusan Arkeologi, Fakultas Ilmu Budaya
Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta

Landscape has always been considered as an important aspect in giving meaning to an artefact or a site. It provides a condition by which archaeologists can contextualized their findings. Even in the end of 19th Century, a pioneer of field archaeology, General Pitt Rivers, has prompted the role of natural settings in archaeological explanation in the history of Archaeology (Thomas, 2001). Nevertheless, strange enough, in cultural resource management such a natural context is often neglected. This is partly because in the past archaeologists were concerned more on cultural remains. Though the natural setting of the cultural remains were admittedly important, it is still considered as natural rather than cultural. Hence, it was treated as different and separate entity.

It was not until a few decades ago that archaeologists realized that even the natural setting of an artifact or site is in fact a cultural remain. This has promoted a perspective which sees a landscape as a palimpsest of material traces from the past
or it is considered as "an assemblage of real world features – natural, seminatural,
and wholly artificial – which is available to us in the present" (see Thomas, 2001).
It is this new perspective that gives rise to landscape archaeology which is aimed at
recovering "the history of things that have been done to the land" (Thomas, 2001). Following this, archaeology is now moving from artefact - and site- oriented analysis to area - or region-oriented ones and the term "cultural landscape" is becoming more popular in this field of study.

Such a new archaeological understanding of landscape is well expressed in UNESCO’s formulation of a cultural landscape as follow (UNESCO, 2005) "Cultural landscapes are cultural properties and represent the combined works of nature and of man. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal".

The development of cultural resource management in Indonesia seems to follow the above-mentioned general trend. Disseminated in a colonial millieu, Indonesian archaeology began with the private interest in antiques and ancient monuments. Therefore, their interest was in artefact, building, and sites. The first regulation on the management of heritage in Indonesia (then the Netherlands Indie), Monumenten Ordonnantie stbl 1931 demonstrates this view. It stated that the term heritage referred to man-made as well as natural remains and site. Such a formulation has been reproduced in the new legislation issued in 1992, Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia no. 5 tahun 1992 tentang Benda Cagar Budaya (The Law of the Republic of Indonesia No. 5 in the year 1992 on Cultural Property).

Though in those two legislation, it is stated that the surrounding area of the site should be protected, but such a statement was not underlaid by awareness of the cultural relation between the artefact or site and its environment. Rather, it was only for the sake of the safety of the cultural remains.

This shows that until the last decade, Indonesia still adopted an old stance in putting a landscape in the heritage management. Fortunately, recently there has been a paradigm shift in the heritage management in Indonesia which put pressure on the government to revise UU no. 5/1992 on Cultural Property. The declaration of Indonesian Charter on Heritage Conservation in 2003 should be appreciated as an important movement to speed up the revision. It is also in this charter that cultural
landscape was firstly and clearly declared as a significant heritage in Indonesia. The revised legislation on Cultural Property which is being processed in the Parliament asserts the protection of a region (kawasan) with culturally interrelated sites. It should be mentioned here, there has been another legislation that could be
used as a basis for cultural landscape heritage management : Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 24 Tahun 1992 Tentang Penataan Ruang (Law of the Republic Indonesia no. 24 in the year 1992 on Spatial Arrangement) and also its implementation in Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 47 Tahun 1997 (Government Regulation no. 47 in the year 1997). These legislations clearly stated that the government may proclaim a region with significant heritage as a protection area (kawasan lindung).

Regarding the cultural landscape of Borobudur, it is obvious that the surrounding areas of the World Heritage Monument were, and still are, an integral part of the monument. The landscape is an important aspect in understanding and appreciating the heritage. The new and convincing evidence on the occurrence of ancient lake in the vicinity of Borobudur strongly support this notion. Although it is not exactly like Nieuwenkamp’s imagination that Borobudur was a lotus in the centre of a pond, but it is quite obvious that the monument was built intentionally in lacustrine (lake) environment encircled by volcanoes and mountaineous region.

Actually, the need to protect the cultural landscape of Borobudur has been advised by leading Indonesian archaeologist, Prof. Dr. R. Soekmono, who also in charge of the restoration of the monument. Just before the official completion of Borobudur restoration in 1983, he suggested that Borobudur should remain in its authentic settings. He was afraid that many activities attracted by the monument would transform Borobudur area from rural into urban environment. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a proper plan for Borobudur landscape (Soekmono, 1983).

This idea was partly accomodated in JICA masterplan in which Borobudur area was divided into 5 zones as follows (see Winarni, 2007).

Zone I Zone for protection and prevention of destruction of the physical environment of the archaeological monuments.

Zone II Zone for provision of park facilities for the convenience of visitors and preservation of historical environment.

Zone III Zone for regulation of land use around the parks and preservation of the environment while controlling development in areas surrounding the parks.

Zone IV Zone for maintenance of historical scenery and prevention of destruction of the scenery.

Zone V Zone for undertaking archaeological surveys over a wide area and prevention of destruction of undiscovered archaeological monuments.

However, it is clear from what has happened so far, such a masterplan has never been properly followed up. Many of regulations stipulated in the masterplan have never been put in place. Law enforcement is very weak. This condition has triggered a prolonged conflict between the authrorities, private sectors, local communities, and even among local communities. As Soekmono predicted, Borobudur area is bccoming urban rather than rural. Surely, this situation will destroy the cultural landscape of Borobudur in the long run, if nothing is done to stop this on-going deteriorating process.

What should be done?

It is now timely to reconsider the policy in managing the Borobudur World Heritage. A new management strategy should be put in place and a proper management plan should be established. In doing so, we have to make use of momentous paradigm shift in heritage management in Indonesia.

Firstly, the management of Borobudur should be founded on the concept of Borobudur Cultural Landscape in which the main focus of the management is not the monument, Chandi Borobudur, but the whole surrounding area of Borobudur including the local communities and their culture. Following this, the management of this area should be an integral part of those of the larger region of surrounding regencies, such as Magelang, Sleman, Purworejo, and Kulon Progo. Without cooperative efforts from the government and local communities in those regencies, the cultural landscape of Borobudur which covers a very vast area of Kedu Basin could not be conserved.

Secondly, the management of Borobudur area shouldnot be based on the "archaeology in the service of the state" paradigm in which the government plays a central role in the management of heritage. Rather, it should follow the "public archaeology" paradigm. In the latter paradigm, heritage management is aimed at giving greater benefit to public at large. It means "Heritage for all".

Local authorities and communities should be given opportunities to take part in the planning of and carrying out the management of Borobudur, while the Central Government plays as the facilitator. This is commonly referred as partnership management (Taylor, 1994).

Thirdly, such a partisipatory management should provide choices for the local communities in response to the managament plan. These choices include participation with voluntarily principle, compensation, and insentive. The management should consist not only development plan but also development control Through those efforts, hopefully the cultural landscape of Borobudur could be conserved integrally : the built heritage, the local communities, the culture, and the environment.


Thomas, J. 2001. Archaeologies of Places and Landscapes, in I. Hodder (ed.), Archaeological Theory Today. Polity Press, Cambridge. Pp. 175-186

UNESCO. 2005. Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

Soekmono, R. 1983. Usaha Demi Usaha Menyelamatkan Candi Borobudur, in Menyingkap Tabir Misteri Borobudur. PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur dan Prambanan. Hlm. 6-17. This article was originally published in Sinar Harapan 17-02-1983)

Winarni. 2006. Kajian Perubahan Ruang Kawasan World Cultural Heritage Candi Borobudur. Thesis S2 pada Program Studi Magister Perencanaan Kota dan Daerah Jurusan Ilmu-ilmu Teknik Sekolah Pasca Sarjana Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta.

Taylor, G. 1994. Conservation techniques: nature conservation and countryside management, dalam R. Harrison (ed.), Manual of Heritage Management.
Butterford-Heinneman. Pp.191-201

Comments :

t said...

Globalization needs PHILOSOPHIA PERENNIS (The Unify of Religions). It is represented by Candi Borobudur and Wayang Purwo (Wali Songo).
Religiosity Revival and Spirituality Resurrection (the foundation of MILLENNIUM CIVILIZATION) should began from Nusantara Archipelago (world miniature).

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