The ancient Mataram was an agrarian civilization that grew at the foot of volcanoes. Because of their location, the ancient Mataram was never free from the threat of a volcanic eruption. Dutch geologist, Reinout Willem Van Bemellen even theorized that the ancient Mataram Kingdom moved from Central Java to East Java because of volcanic disasters.
The existence of a kingdom in Central Java can be traced from the heritage left behind such as temples and epigraphs that were found in various areas, from the Kedu Plain to Prambanan. The Kedu-Prambanan region covers area that is now under Magelang Regency in Central Java, and Sleman Regency in DI Yogyakarta, especially around Prambanan. An archeologist from Yogyakarta Archeological Body, Sugeng Riyanto, said Central Java grew to become a cultural centre during the classical period in the seventh through the tenth century.
So far, the Candi Dieng complex is believed to be the oldest temple in Central Java, based on its shape, its structural arrangement, its ornamentation and the characteristics of its statues. It is not clear who built Candi Dieng complex, but it is thought to have been built during the reign of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty. The name Mataram is believed to emerge first during the eight century when Sanjaya was in power and declared himself Rakai Mataram Sang Ratu Sanjaya, with Medang as the center of power. According to the Indonesian National History II (1984), the Central Java kingdom's previous name was never known.
Gadjah Mada University's archeologist Niken Wirasanti said the existence of the Central Java Kingdom could be seen in the Canggal Epigraph from 732 AD, which mentions the construction of a lingam, or a phallus temple worshipped as a representation of Shiva, by Sanjaya.
Heavily influenced by the Indian culture, this ancient civilization grew rapidly at Kedu area and especially around Prambanan. The height of Mataram's glory can be seen from monuments around Prambanan built around the tenth century, such as Candi Prambanan (Lorojonggrang), Sewu and Plaosan.
The ancient Mataram was never free from volcanic eruption. Traces of volcanic deposits were found at temples on Mt. Merapi's southern slope such as Kedulan, Palgading, Morangan, Kadisoko and Sambisari. Artefacts like a foundation of a temple and household tools were also found buried 8 meter deep at Liyangan on the slope of Sindoro. The buried site of ancient residential area was near the location of Rukam Epigraph at Petarongan Village at Prangan Subdistrict.
The Rukam Epigraph tells of the granting of tax exemption to a village because of a volcanic eruption. Some believe that Liyangan was the village that was granted the tax exemption status. But others think that the village mentioned must have been buried by the disaster.
Direction and Compositing: Septa Inigopatria
3D: Pietter Buyung