carried out a systematic excavation in several spots of Palembang where they expected to find evidence of 7th century habitation, and especially in the form of ceramic sherds. The results were negative, for testpits at Bukit Seguntang, Air Bersih, Geding Suro, and Sarangwati yielded only Ming porcelain o f the 15th-l6th centuries28)
A trial excavation carried out by the same team near the site of Muara Takus (Riau) produced similarly meager results. Again there were no 7th century ceramic sherds.29) The same results were obtained by a team from the Pusat Penelitian Purbakala (The National Research Centre of Archaeology) in 1976; only Ming porcelain sherds were found.30)
Does this mean that Sriwijaya was neither in Palembang nor near Muara Takus? Or could there have been another reason for the absence of the debris which should have been left behind by a city inhabited for centuries? Or should there have been excavations on other spots, as, for example, on the bank of the Musi river? Or should one look in the mud or water, for towns and villages situated on river banks are flood-prone.? Even one flood can destroy a whole area, as we still see happening in Sumatra. Or, is it right to expect Chinese and other porcelain as early as the 7th century?*
We have some suggestions to make: perhaps the thousand monks who according to I - tsing, were studying in Sriwijaya at the end of the 7th century were not Chinese but Indonesians. They could have used bamboo and leaves for their meals31), and coconut husks, seashells, gourds, and bamboo for their water. They did not build stupas of brick, for in a tropical rain-forest wood is used. The sanctuaries and monasteries were made of wood with grass and palm-leaf roofs as we still see in Bali. The "cells" for the monks would have looked like the very simple and modest wooden huts on stilts which one still encounters today in a few pesantrens (Islamic boarding schools) in North Sumatra (South Tapanuli). There is a very large pesantren at Purba Baru, South Tapanuli, our survey team happened to pass by in July 1978. There are 2000 students living there. Every two students share a hut where they cook, eat, study and sleep. We found another pesantren of the same style at Padang Lawas in 1975.32) There the compound, with the same kind of modest huts, was located near Biaro Bahal I, a brick temple which dates back to perhaps the 13th or 14th century.33)
*After writing this paper many porcelain sherds from period prior to the tenth century were found in the Talang Kikim region at the foot of the Bukit Seguntang.