Category: News@Borobudur.

Plastic to Protect Indonesia’s Borobudur From Ravages of Merapi Ash

Candra Malik | November 11, 2010

Soldiers clean volcanic ash from Borobudur Temple, which is 40 kilometers from Mount Merapi. Archaeologists from around the world have offered to help protect the site. (AP Photo)

Magelang, Central Java. With archeologists from all over the world worried about the damage Mount Merapi’s acidic ash might do to Borobudur Temple, local conservationists have come up with a simple solution — wrap the world heritage site in plastic.

Marsis Sutopo, the head of the Borobudur conservation office, said on Thursday that the threat to the iconic ninth-century temple was the subject of much discussion among international experts.

“Archaeologists from the Netherlands, Japan and Australia have contacted us to offer help to overcome the impact of Mount Merapi on Borobudur Temple,” he said.

Marsis said the foreign archeologists had offered to come to Indonesia to inspect the temple after hearing it was being covered in volcanic ash.

“We politely declined their generosity,” he said. “Although this is the first time we’ve experienced this problem in the past century, we are confident that we can address the issue.

“We have decided to cover the important parts of the temple with plastic, starting on Friday.”

Yunus Satrio Atmojo, director of Archaeological Heritage at the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said international archaeologists need not worry.

“Indonesia is getting the world’s attention since Mount Merapi erupted and Borobudur Temple was covered by volcanic ash,” he said.

“Although so far no damage has been reported, we do not want to be careless,” Yunus said. “If we fail to solve the problem, we will ask for assistance from foreign experts.”

If the project needs any help, it might be plastic.

Marsis said they had prepared 2,000 square meters of plastic — hardly enough to cover every inch of the temple, which is 35 meters high and has a 121-square-meter base.

“We will give priority to the main stupa and 72 surrounding stupas on the top floor, as well as statues that are exposed directly to the elements,” Marsis said.

“It’s impossible for us to wrap the whole temple, though in fact that is what is needed.”

He said the temple, located more than 40 kilometers from Mount Merapi, was covered by about a three-centimeter layer of ash.

“We have already cleaned the details of those parts blanketed by volcanic ash with extreme caution but we worked in vain since more ash continues to be spewed from the mountain’s crater and carried by the wind,” Marsis said.

He said the rescue mission involved workers and soldiers cleaning the stupa before it was wrapped in plastic.

“We use sodium bicarbonate to remove the volcanic ash that had entered the pores of the stones,” Marsis said.

“The chemical is commonly used for conservation of metals, stones and artifacts.”

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Category: News@Borobudur
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