More Batak Heritage Uncovered: North Sumatra

The Medan Archeological Center has discovered an ancient stone plaque inscribed with three characters, believed have been made during the 18th century in Phakpak, North Sumatra. The discovery comes after two similar plaques from the 14th century were found nearby last month.

Archeologist Ketut Wiradnyana of the center said two of the characters on the damaged plaque, which was found on Sept. 5 at the Jembu Rea cemetery in Siempat Rube district, were readable. The plague is one meter long, 73 cm wide and 30 cm thick as the article in the Jakarta Post explains.

Batak epigraphist Suruhum Purba said that the two characters read Hatapahung (uttered) and Sahala (soul) but said he could not make any conclusion as to their meaning.

“I think the plaque had something to do with rituals by Phakpak residents in the past,” he said.

Wiradnyana said the characters differed from those found on the plaques found last month in Dairi, around 50 kilometers from Phakpak.

The Phakpak plaque was written in Toba, Karo and Phakpak characters, while the Dairi plague had Batak characters, he said.

Wiradnyana said that besides the plaque, the center’s team of archeologists also discovered two 18th-century statues of a man riding an elephant just 500 meters away.