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Bali, the ‘Island of the Gods’ has been populated since the very early prehistoric times, however the oldest human items that have been found are 3,000 year old earthenware vessels and stone tools from Celuk. Around the 9th century rice was being grown in the very complex irrigation system called ‘subak’ and cultural and religious traditions were developed and can still be seen today.
During the reign of King Airlangga during the period from 1019 to 1042, the influence of Hindu Java began to spread into Bali. When Airlangga was just a teen he fled into the forests in Western Java due to his uncle losing the throne. Over time he won back the kingdom and became one of Java’s greatest kings. When he gained the throne a link between Java and Bali became evident because his mother had moved to Bali shortly after his birth and remarried. During this time, the Javanese language known as ‘Kawi’ became widely used across the royal family of Bali and the memorials in the rocks at Gunung Kawi near Tampaksiring provide an evident architectural link between 11th century Java and Bali.
After the death of King Airlangga, Bali remained a semi-independent island until the rise of Kertanagara who became king of the Singasari dynasty in Java almost two centuries later. He conquered and took over Bali in 1284, but he was murdered 8 years later and his kingdom consequently crumbled.