Daily Archives: 03/02/2006

Astro Links

Okay, a quick glance through some exciting astronomy stories before I head into work today…

Well, time to go make the doughnuts…

Haraldur And The Lost Kingdom

It ain’t everyday you turn up a kingdom lost in time. But Haraldur Sigurdsson, a volcanologist with the University of Rhode Island, did just that in Indonesia. Sigurdsson discovered the remains of the kingdom of Tambora buried on the slopes of it eponymous volcano. The volcano, located on the island of Sumbawa, exploded in a gargantuan eruption in 1815. The eruption killed 117,000 people and cast a pall around the planet, marking 1815 as the year without a summer.

Locals told Sigurdsson of a ‘museum gully’ full of ceramics and bones. He took a brief look, then returned the next year with ground penetrating radar. Along with Indonesian archaeologists, he uncovered houses, ceramics and he remains of Tamborans apparently caught unawares by the eruption.

Tambora was smothered in minutes beneath a pyroclastic flow of superheated ash and pumice. Dubbed the ‘Eastern Pompeii,’ hopes are high that the town of Tambora is preserved under the loose ash, much like the ancient Roman city was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius 2000 years ago. The few artifacts already recovered indicate that Tambora was probably linked to Vietnam and Cambodia. The scraps of Tamboran language that were preserved also indicate Khmer roots. The kingdom was lost before the colonial Dutch reached this corner of Indonesia, so the town will be a vital source of information about pre-Dutch trade and village life. Historical records suggest the Tamborans traded in honey, sappanwood used to make red dye, and sandalwood used for incense and medications.