The Seventh-Century Punjulharjo Boat from Indonesia: A study of the early Southeast Asian lashed-lug boatbuilding tradition

Author: Agni Sesaria Mochtar

Mochtar, Agni Sesaria, 2018 The Seventh-Century Punjulharjo Boat from Indonesia: A study of the early Southeast Asian lashed-lug boatbuilding tradition, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The study of the lashed-lug tradition, one of the traditional boatbuilding techniques of Southeast Asia, had predominantly relied on historical and ethnographic data. To date, there are nearly twenty sites with lashed-lug vessels, albeit many of them are only fragmentary remains, that had been found in various places in Southeast Asian region but a closer examination of them has still scarcely conducted. The Punjulharjo boat is one of these lashed-lug watercrafts which were found in a rather remarkable condition, with the majority of its hull preserved. The excavation in 2009 revealed that the boat still has its internal strengthening in place, with the vegetal ropes still intact. This thesis aims to further study the assembly method and technology used in the Punjulharjo boat and to see how they fit within the current theories of the lashed-lug tradition of boat building. The author re-examines the boat remains that are still in situ to study details that are missing from the previous archaeological studies. The analysis is undertaken by comparing the collected data to the documentation of the boat during the initial excavation, as well as the related reports and publications about other lashed-lug vessels. This study reveals various aspects of the assembly techniques of the Punjulharjo boat, including the planking, the fastening and the internal strengthening. In particular, this thesis discusses the way that the ropes were used in several different ways to tighten different parts of the boat, as well as how the builders assembled the bow and the stern using a wing-end, one of the distinguishing features of a lashed-lug vessel. By comparing the Punjulharjo boat to other watercrafts belonging to the same tradition; the author argues that this boat is one of the lashed-lug vessels built using early technological techniques, which heavily relied on the lashings to fasten the boat with the aid of dowels. The author concludes that further research of the Punjulharjo boat is, however, still needed to study the fastening system of the boat. An experimental archaeology might aid in understanding how the builders applied each sequence of lashing patterns and the reason behind this choice of the pattern. The propulsion method and the rigging of the boat are other aspects that need to be examined closer. It is also recommended that studies of more vessels that were found in the last ten years be expanded to add to the prevailing knowledge of the lashed-lug tradition.

Keywords: maritime archaeology, boatbuilding, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, lashed-lug boat

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Wendy van Duivenvoorde