Ancient Batak Plaques Unearthed: Medan, Sumatra

The Medan Archeological Center has found two ancient relics in the form of stone plaques believed to be left by former Batak rulers, which archeologists say date back to the 14th century.

The stone plaques were unearthed in a local farmer’s rice field in Pegagan Julu III village, Sumbul district, Dairi regency.

Officials at the center said this was the second time Batak inscriptions had been found.

The center found two plaques with Batak inscriptions in Padang Bolak and Padang Bujur villages, Padang Lawas district, South Tapanuli regency, in 2003.

Besides the inscriptions, the center also uncovered a number of statues, mortars and stone fragments in Pegagan village. The artifacts are believed to date back to the 1400s.

All of the finds are reported to be still at the excavation site for analysis.

Archeologist Ketut Wiradnyana said that both Batak inscriptions and a number of other artifacts had been found on August 15.
He added that the ancient relics were not found at the same time, but rather at different times on the same day.

One of the finders, Pesta Siahaan, said that a number of statues and mortars had initially been found, and the two plaques later on.

“The distance between them was only around 900 meters. These finds indicate that this place was a former dwelling area for the Batak tribe,” Pesta said.

He said the two plaques were of different sizes.

The first one was 115 cm long, 68 cm wide and 27 cm high, while the second one was slightly smaller at 50 cm long, 40 cm wide and 35 cm high.

Based on preliminary analysis, both plaques may be categorized as “short plaques” due to the lack of dates and the name of the ruler.

Wiradnyana said the center was still trying to decipher the plaques.

An epigraphist from the Medan Tourism Academy, Rita Margaretha Setianingsih, said the archeological center had asked her to decipher the meaning of the words engraved on the plaques.

Rita said that while she had not yet decoded the Batak inscriptions, they had clearly been made on the orders of a local ruler, as could be seen from the type of lettering used.

Apriadi Gunawan