Indonesia’s best known archaeological ruins are located on Java. These are the Buddhist stupa at Borobudur and the Hindu temples at Prambanan. They are probably on all package tours and should of course not be missed and I myself visited them back in 1993. Less well known are the warugas of Minahasa in northern Sulawesi which I had the opportunity to see in 2008. Most of them are now to be found at the village Sawangan where 144 warugas were relocated in 1977. Sawangan is located 30 minutes by car from Manado.
The warugas are rectangular stone burial chambers, usually of quite recent date (9th century and onwards), but they have not attracted much archaeological interest (to my knowledge anyway). A prism-shaped lid crowns the chambers. These lids usually contain carvings depicting the owner’s occupation, characteristics or the cause of death. The chambers were placed above ground facing the rising sun. The dead body was placed sitting upright on a Chinese porcelain bowl (these were imported from around the 15th century). Jewelry covered the body but no clothing and because of this the warugas have often been plundered. In 1828 this above ground burial practice was banned by the colonial authorities due to epidemics.