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The Management and Value of

Maritime Sites in Karimunjawa

St. Prabawa Dwi Putranto
Student of Doctoral Degree Archaeology Department, University of Indonesia
Indonesian people evolved in the archipelago along the equator. Its strategic location and natural wealth
of producing spices appeals foreigners to come. People in Nusantara are common with seafaring and
thrive as a maritime nation.
Cultural contact and a long history have left cultural heritage, most buried underground, and some sunk to
the bottom of the sea. These cultural heritages contain information connected to the history and the
culture of Indonesian people.
Cultural heritage are resources that are finite, un-renewable, fragile, irreversible, and unique. Therefore, it
needs proper management to preserve it, especially underwater cultural heritage.
Based on survey by the Directorate of Underwater Cultural Heritage in 2011, in Indonesia it is estimated
that there are 3807 underwater archeological site. From that many site, there are location which has
concentrated sites, one of them is Karimunjawa in Jepara District, Middle Java.
There have been 10 sites identified in Karimunjawa, consist of wooden and iron ships. These sites are
inside a National Park by the Ministry of Forestry, for the purpose of natural conservation. But, the
preservation of these cultural heritage is somewhat neglected.
There are a few obstacles in preserving heritage in Indonesia, which are these heritage is hard to reach
because underwater; it takes an amount of manpower, equipment, and cost in handling; no specific
regulations in preservation; lack of human resource; and illegal excavation for commercial purposes.
Therefore, these research aims to reveal the value of underwater cultural heritage in Karimunjawa which
can become a cultural resource. Hereafter produce a management which adapt to the value, condition, and
regulation so that the heritage can be protected, be developed, and be used for the benefit of the Indonesia
people. Also the management can be used as an example for other sites in ASEAN countries.
Keywords: underwater cultural heritage, cultural resource management, sites, Karimunjawa

Background of the Study

Indonesian people evolved in the archipelago along the equator. Its strategic location and
natural wealth of producing spices appeals foreigners to come. At first these foreigners are
merchants, but some of them then dominate Indonesia in economics and politics. Therefore,
Indonesia had many influences from foreign cultures such as India, Chinese, Islamic, and
During the century, when trade between the east and the west world begin to thrive
through the Silk Road, people in the Archipelago are accustomed to the seafaring activity. These

lead to the rise of central commerce in the coast of Sumatera, Java, and Kalimantan. The growth
of commerce increases at the time of Islamic Empire and the arrival of European nation
(Sulistiyono, 2008, p. 42-43).
The cultural history as a maritime people thrived through the Independence Declaration
of Indonesia at August 17th 1945. At this time the Archipelago region was united as one country
Indonesia. Based on its territory, Indonesia has more water area than land. Cultural contact and a
long history have left cultural heritage, most buried underground, and some sunk to the bottom
of the sea. These cultural heritages contain information connected to the history and the culture
of Indonesian people.
Cultural heritage usually undergoes changes in shapes and locations. Some buried in
land, and some sunk to the bottom of the sea. Cultural heritage are resources that are finite, unrenewable, fragile, irreversible, and unique (Green & Moore, 2010, p. 108). Therefore, it needs
proper management to preserve it, especially underwater cultural heritage1 (UCH).
In the context of preservation, UNESCO has issued a regulation called The UNESCO
Convention On the Protection of The Underwater Cultural Heritage. In the 1st article it is
explained the definition of UCH as follows:
Underwater cultural heritage means all traces of human existence having a cultural,
historical or archaeological character which have been partially or totally under water,
periodically or continuously,.
Indonesia has an abundance of UCH, but preservation had not received full attention.
There is obstacle that made the preservation difficult, such as
1. unreachable because in deep waters
2. requires a lot of energy, equipment, and high cost in handling
3. no special law that manage the preservation
4. lack of human resource in underwater archaeology
5. salvage by private company for commercial purposes
UCH in Indonesia are scattered through the Indonesian waters. According to the
Directorate of Underwater Heritage in 2011, there are estimated about 3807 sites (2011). From
that many site, there are location which has concentrated sites, such as Bangka Belitung waters,
Thousand Islands Archipelago, and Karimunjawa Archipelago.
This research is specifically in the Karimunjawa Archipelago. Karimunjawa Archipelago
is located in Jepara District, Middle Java. In Karimunjawa water there are 10 underwater sites
identified which consist of wood and iron ships. In order to protect the natural resource, in 1988
Karimunjawa Archipelago established as a National Park.
The establishment of Karimunjawa as a National Park has not help with the preservation
of UCH. This research is aim to find the best model of management of UCH in Indonesia,
through the case study of Karimunjawa Archipelago. This model has to adapt and adopt the
1 For the next mention will be refer to as UCH

value, condition, and law so that the region can be protected, develop and use for the greater
good of Indonesian people according to the Law of the Republic of Indonesian Number 11, 2010
concerning Cultural Heritage.

This research uses qualitative method. Qualitative research is defined as a process that
tries to get an understanding about the complexity in human interaction (Marshal & Rossman:
1995: 1). It comprise of three stages, which is data collecting, analysis, and interpretation.
Observation and interview is conducted in data collecting. Observation is conducted to
gather data about activities done to the UCH in Karimunjawa, such as sites protection by the
Central Java Office Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yogyakarta Office of Archaeology, and the
Karimunjawa National Park. Moreover, observation conducted to gather data about activity done
o the UCH by the local resident, fisherman, and tourist. Furthermore, interview of stakeholder
involved in the preservation of UCH is conducted, such as the Director for The Preservation of
Cultural Heritage and Museum, Head of Karimunjawa National Park, Head of Karimunjawa
Sub-District, Head of Jepara Tourism and Culture Office, Head of Central Java Culture and
Tourism Office, and local figure.
After data collecting, began the data process and integration of literature and field study
to determine the value of Karimunjawa UCH. Afterwards, strategic planning analysis is used to
generate a suitable strategic management. Strategic management known as SWOT (Strength,
Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) is use considering the internal and external factor of the
management of the UCH sites done by the Karimunjawa National Park.

Findings and Discussion

Karimunjawa Archipelago is located northeast of Semarang precisely in 54039 55500 S dan 1100557 - 1103115 E. It is located in the administrative region of District
Jepara, consist of three village, Karimunjawa, Kemujan, and Parang. Its land and water area
covers a 117.237 Ha, consist of 27 islands. There are only four inhabitant islands which are
Karimunjawa, Kemujan, Parang, and Nyamuk Island.

Map 1. Map of Kepulauan Karimunjawa

Karimunjawa Archipelago location is very strategic to the shipping line and trade route of
Java Sea. According to the Chinese chronicles, in the year 1292 A.D a 20.000 fleet envoy of
Kubilai Khan led by Shih Pi, Kau Sing and Ike Mese sailed to Java to punish King Krtanegara
(Singasari Kingdom). These fleet stop at Biliton (Belitung), and then anchored in Karimon
(Karimunjawa), waiting for the opportunity to enter Du-bing-zu (Tuban) (Groeneveldt, 2009:
32). In other Chinese Chronicles, Shun Feng Hsiang Sung who made the shipping route between
China and Indonesian Archipelago, Chi Li Wen or Karimunjawa is depicted as an important place
to the shipping between Wu Yu near Amoy (China) and Tu Ping Shu (Tuban) (Noerwidi, 2008, p.
In the times of Demak Sultanate, when the main harbor shifted from Tuban to Jepara,
Karimunjawa was still considered as a strategic location for transit in the Java Sea. Political
control of Karimunjawa was managed by the Islamic Sultanate by sending mubaliq to convert
the people to Islam. Among these notable figures are Sunan Nyamplung or Mbah Amir Khasan
(Koestoro, 1997, p. 41-43).
In the 17th century, Jeparas role as the main harbor was replaced by Semarang. Although
the main harbor changes again, Karimunjawa was still considered as an important transit harbor.
According to Dutch record, in 18th and 19th Century furniture craftsmen in Batavia bring in its
sonokeling wood (Indonesian rosewood) from Karimunjawa. In the year 1815, Carel Rudolph
von Michalovski, a Germany officer appointed as the first posthouder to govern Karimunjawa.
At the time of the Dutch Indies, Karimunjawa is administratively under the Resident of
Semarang (Anwar, 2004, p. 188-189).
In the course of history, there are numerous cultural heritages in Karimunjawa, both in
land and sea. There are 10 UCH sites in Karimunjawa, among other
1. Geleang site
This site is located southwest of Geleang Island, a wooden ship in 48 m deep. Its condition
in 70 percent, but there are still big ropes bound to the capstan. It size at 48 m long, 14.17
width, and 6 m high.

2. Menyawakan Site
This site is located near Menyawakan sandbar, 1 km from the coastline, an iron ship in 3-9
m deep. It is partially intact and buried in coral reef, but still identifiable its stern, bottom
deck, hold, boiler, framework, steering wheel, main deck, and hatch. It size at 47 m long,
22 width, and 7 m high.
3. Kumbang Site
This site is located south of Kumbang Island, an iron ship in 2-13 m deep. Most of it is
covered in coral, but 80 percent are still intact, such as the bridge, hold, stern, hatch, stair to
the main deck, and a four windowed main deck. Based upon its hold layout, it is estimated
as a cargo or a sand carrier. It size at 29 m long, 5.8 width, and 5 m high.
4. Parang Site
This site is located west of Parang Island, a wooden ship in 34-38 m deep. It is only 20
percent, most of the wood stolen by fisherman. There is still a stern 34 m, portside, keel
and framework, barrel and hoses. According to fisherman, the ship is Palipur Ship, a
motorized sailing ship carrying building material. It size at 23 m long, 16 width, and 12 m
high. Based on the age of coral reef by the National Park, it is estimated that the ship sunk
in 2000-2005 (Karimunjawa National Park, 2010).
5. Indonor Site
This site is west of Karimunjawa Island. The site is S.S Indonor, an iron ship in 15 deep. It
size at 99.94 m long, 14.17 m width, and 6 m high. According to history, S.S Indonor was
made by a ship manufacturing company called William Gray & Co. Ltd in the year 19411944. By the time of its manufacture, the ship was called Empire Pilgrim. S.S Indonor was
Map 2. Map of UCH Sites in Karimunjawa Archipelago
a cargo ship Scandinavian
type. It ended its journey on the way from Palembang to
Surabaya on Wednesday, February 3th 1960, with its cargo of coal (Central Java Office
Preservation of Cultural Heritage, 2011).
6. Genteng Site
This site is west of Little Menjangan Island. The site is Masa Indah, a motorized sailing
ship in 29-30 m deep. It size at 21.97 m long, 7.69 m width. A wooden ship sunk on its way
from Madura to Kalimantan carrying food, clothing and building materials
7. Seruni Site
This site is east of Seruni Island, 300 m from the coastline. It consists of fragments of wood
from a ship in 10 m deep. It special features is a double construction of a ship.
8. Genting Site
This site is west of Genting Island, 500 m of the coastline. It consists of fragments os
Chinese ceramics in 2 m deep. It is estimated from ancient Chinese dynasty.
9. Dead Ship Site
This site is southeast of Karimunjawa Island, 3 km from the coastline and 53 m deep. It
was found only through a GPS Map Sounder. According to local source, the ship is made of
10. Pulau Nyamuk Site
This site is west of Nyamuk Island, 200 m of the coastline and 3-4 m deep. On this site was
found a 1 x 1 m of iron ship remains.
As an UCH in Karimunjawa, these sites have values for the people of Indonesia. These
values are, among other:

1. Historical Value
With its strategic location, Karimunjawa was used as a transit harbor in Java Sea. It was busy
harbor visited by many foreign and local ships. A considerable UCH in Karimunjawa
describes Indonesia as a maritime nation who is capable of roaming the sea and have relation
with foreign nation.
2. Education and science Value
Sites in Karimunjawa can be a place for education and science about the history, culture, and
nature. The community can learn the importance to preserve cultural resource to last for the
3. Political Value
The preservation of UCH can support the Government program to make Indonesia as a
maritime axis with the concept of Nawa Cita from the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo.
4. Economical Value
Economically, tourism in Karimunjawa is very high. Wreck diving can be of the main
attraction. Other than that, economical benefit can lift the standard of living of the
Karimunjawa people.
5. Information Value
Information value needs to be developed and packed to be publicized to the people.
Therefore can increase the people awareness to protect and preserve UCH in Karimunjawa
and furthermore in other region in Indonesia.
To determine the best management for the preservation of UCH in Karimunjawa, a
SWOT analysis is use on the existing management by identifying the strength, weakness,
opportunity and threat.

Table 1. SWOT Strategy


The high potential of
value to be develop
Sufficient infrastructure
to be develop as a tourism
Sufficient tourism
Community awareness to

Strategic location 1.
for development with
many UCH sites
The development
of research
The people vew
of the potential of 2.
UCH to be develop
Protection by the
National Park

UCH site has not been
determine as a National
Cultural Heritage
National law and
policies that is unclear
about the preservation of
Lack of information
about UCH sites in
No management of
W-O Strategy
1. Research on UCH sites to
determine its status. (W1
2. Protection by community
with the help of
Karimunjawa National Park.
(W1 O4)
3. Research on the UCH sites
of Karimunjawa as a
reference to the law. (W2
4. Reviewing the Karimunjawa
National Park Law as a
reference (W2, O4).
5. Information through print
and electronic media. (W3,
6. Management cooperation of
many government agency
such as Directorate for
Preservation of Cultural
Heritage and Museum and
Karimunjawa National Park
(W4, O4)

S-O Strategy
Preparing a holistic tourism
program, that can give a
comprehensive experience
about the history, natural
beauty, and culture of
Karimunjawa. (S1 O3)
A development plan in
maximizing the region
potential toward an
educational, learning, and
research region. (S1, O2)
Region development
execution by the government,
private, and community. (S2
4. Special promotion about UCH
in Karimunjawa and the
importance of its preservation.
(S3 O3)
5. Preservation cooperation of
many government agencies
such as Directorate for
Preservation of Cultural
Heritage and Museum and
Karimunjawa National Park.
(S4 O4)
S-T Strategy
W-T Strategy
Conflict between 1. Socialization about the
1. Establish a governing body
the natural and
importance of preservation of
with stakeholder of
cultural conservation
UCH can be bone through
government, private, and


promotion media.(S3, T2)
community. (W4, T1)
through human or
2. Creating a visitor
2. Coordination between
natural activity
management with the
government agency about
Lack of access to
utilization of existing
UCH preservation (W4, T1)
facilities. (S2 T2)
3. Increasing a pro active
attitude of locals to outside
fisherman about preservation.
(S4, T2)
4. Better access involving
private sector. (S3, T3)

Conclusion and Suggestions

Management of UCH in Karimunjawa needs to be done very carefully to ensure its
preservation. Cooperation between the Directorate of the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and
Museum that preserve the UCH and Karimunjawa National Park that preserve the natural
resource is vital as a leader in a Governing Body. Private sector and the community can be the
support and control of this management. This would be in accordance with the Law of the
Republic of Indonesian Number 11, 2010 article 97 that stated that the management of cultural
heritage is not contradictory with the communitys interest, and that the governing body consists
of government, private, and community.
Anwar, Rosihan (2004). Sejarah Kecil Petit Histoire Indonesia. Jakarta: Kompas.
Central Java Office Preservation of Cultural Heritage (2011), Laporan Pemetaan Kapal Indonor,
Kepulauan Karimunjawa, Kabupaten Jepara.
Directorate of Underwater Heritage (2011). Himpunan Data Cagar Budaya Bawah Air
Indonesia. Jakarta: Ministry of Education and Culture.
Green, K, & Moore, T (2010). Archaeology: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.
Groeneveldt, W. P (2009). Nusantara dalam Catatan Tionghoa. Jakarta: Komunitas Bambu.
Karimunjawa National Park (2010), Laporan Inventarisasi dan Identifikasi Wreck Dive Site di
Taman Nasional Karimunjawa. Semarang: Karimunjawa National Park.
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Utara Jawa. Berkala Arkeologi, Tahun XVII No 2 November 1997. Yogyakarta: Balai
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