Raffles versus Engelhard

In a discourse for the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences in 1813, Raffles praised Engelhard, who had helped him to gather information on Javanese antiquities. In his History of Java (1817), however, he accused Engelhard’s ‘agents’ of removing stones and digging a deep hole ‘so as to disfigure, and in great measure demolish’ part of the Singosari temple. In turn, in a letter dated February 1827, Engelhard sharply attacked Raffles and all those scholars ‘who dig in the notes of others and present them as their own findings’. More recent research has indeed demonstrated that Raffles freely used the work of others, and not only Engelhard, often without giving them credit. Also, in the absence of reliable accounts, we cannot ascertain whether Engelhard was responsible for the damage to the temple. For centuries, the Javanese themselves have dug holes in Hindu and Buddhist temples in search of the ritual deposits that used to be buried in temple pits under the main statue.