SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Highway to Prosperity: Brantas River Delta in Premodern Java

Kaart del Java
Agni Mochtar (University of Naples L’Orientale / Regional Agency for Archaeological Research in D.I. Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia)

Date: 24 February 2022Time: 11:00 AM

Finishes: 24 February 2022Time: 1:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar


It has been said frequently in the narratives of premodern Java that Brantas river played a significant role in supporting the society living in its basin to prosper. Not only the river supported agriculture by being the main source for irrigation —and still does to the present days—, but it also provided an easy route for trade between the inland and coastal areas up to the early nineteenth century. This talk aims to show how people in the delta interacted with the river and coastal environment to understand the maritime cultural landscape formed by such interaction by emphasizing the river’s role as a continuation of the ocean. Whereas historical and epigraphic studies have contributed to the discussion about the cultural dynamics in the Brantas river delta, albeit incomprehensive, archaeological research is almost absent. While the archaeologists have expressed their interest in Brantas river, the focus of their investigations are mainly on terrestrial data along the river’s upper and mid-stream. This talk reviews the studies previously conducted and describes the results of recent archaeological survey and ethnographical study in the Brantas river delta to interpret the maritime aspects of the premodern society. Included in this interpretation are the ancient river system and the types of vessels used to navigate the river and the ocean.

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Highway to Prosperity: Brantas River Delta in Premodern Java

Agni Mochtar

Speaker Biography

Born in Jakarta, on May 26, 1985, Agni lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She is a PhD student at the Department of Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean, University of Naples “L’Orientale” and a researcher at the Regional Agency for Archaeological Research in D.I. Yogyakarta Province. She received a Bachelor degree in Archaeology from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and continued her study in Master of Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University, South Australia with Australia Awards Scholarship. Her thesis was titled “The seventh-century Punjulharjo boat from Indonesia: a study of the early Southeast Asian lashed-lug boatbuilding tradition” and was awarded as 2018 Flinders University Master of Maritime Archaeology Best Thesis. Her latest project is an investigation of the maritime cultural landscape in Brantas River, East Java, Indonesia.


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Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies and SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme

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