DUST TO DUST: Ancient relics reduced to rubble

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A 2,000-year-old sarcophagus lies in pieces where it fell, protected from the elements and scavengers by yellow police tape and a blue tarpaulin.

The sarcophagus, discovered earlier this month in a brick-making site in Kremes, Gianyar, was finally transferred to Bali's antiquities museum last Friday.

The skeleton preserved in this mudstone coffin for at least two millennia is now little more than a collection of bone shards, jumbled up with offerings of flowers and rice. No skull or teeth remain, although long bones - bits of legs and arms - have been found meters from the site. There is little chance of reconstructing the skeleton or of determining its age and sex.

Near the bones were hundreds of pottery and porcelain fragments. Stepping through the quarry is delicate, as any move could damage these fragmented remains of Indonesia's ancient past.

The sarcophagus suggests this may be the burial ground of a Balinese monarch whose story has been lost in time.

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