Lost Civilization Found?

Today, the remnants of a lost Indonesian civilization are thought to have been discovered by scientists. Completely destroyed by what is considered to be the largest volcanic eruption throughout history during 1815, researchers believe they have found what is left of the lost civilization of Tambora.


When Mount Tambora erupted on April 10, 1815, it took with it the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island, burying them under large amounts of ash, rock and gas. It is estimated that close to 90,000 individuals lost their lives at this time. In 1883, a highly regarded eruption created by Mount Krakatoa was thought to be quite damaging, but this eruption was calculated at being at least four times more powerful.


Using radars that are able to penetrate the ground, researchers from the United States and Indonesia were able to dig through a gully, which was the site of a few finds. Locals had uncovered numerous ceramics and bones in the area. In a layer of sediment that was dated the same time as the eruption, the remains of a thatch house, bronze, pottery, as well as the carbonized bones of two individuals, were discovered.


Leading the expedition is a volcanologist hailing from the University of Rhode Island. Haraldur Sigurdsson estimated that 10,000 people lived in the town during the time of the eruption. He compared the damage to that of the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii located in Rome. 400 million tons of sulfuric gases were emitted into the atmosphere during the eruption, which resulted in a cooling across the globe. This period of time was dubbed the “Year Without a Summer.” In Maine, farmers experiences frosts that destroyed crops during the months of June, July and August. Grape and corn crops throughout France and Germany greatly suffered, as did harvest production. 


Researchers are hoping to reestablish a culture, as well as a language that was completely lost during the catastrophe. During the early 1800s, explorers encountered the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island and began studying the language of the land, which did not resemble any they had ever heard throughout Indonesia. Soon after, the eruption destroyed the area. With the loss of lives and the land, the language was also destroyed.


Some of the puzzle pieces surrounding this culture that researchers hope to find clues to is whether or not the Tambora culture came from Indochina. Ceramic pottery finds show similar characteristics to that of Vietnamese creations. An archeologist from the National University of Singapore reviewed videotapes of the dig and also believes that the civilization of Tambora has been rediscovered, but does not think that the culture came from Indochina. He suggests that Vietnamese pottery may have reached the area through trade.


Additional finds regarding the dig include the charred skeleton of a female, who may have been in her kitchen during the time of the eruption. Artifacts, such as a metal machete and melted glass bottle are close to her remains. Another person was found in what looked like to be close to a doorway.