150,000-Year-Old Pipes in China

150,000-Year-Old Pipes Baffle Scientists in China: Out of Place in Time?

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By Tara MacIsaac Epoch Times

Oopart (out of place artifact) is a term applied to dozens of prehistoric objects found in various places around the world that seem to show a level of technological advancement incongruous with the times in which they were made. Ooparts often frustrate conventional scientists, delight adventurous investigators open to alternative theories, and spark debate.

In a mysterious pyramid in China’s Qinghai Province near Mount Baigong are three caves filled with pipes leading to a nearby salt-water lake. There are also pipes under the lake bed and on the shore. The iron pipes range in size, with some smaller than a toothpick. The strangest part is that they may be about 150,000 years old.

Dating done by the Beijing Institute of Geology determined these iron pipes were smelted about 150,000 years ago, if they were indeed made by humans, according to Brian Dunning of 

And if they were made by humans, history as it is commonly viewed would have to be re-evaluated.

The dating was done using thermoluminescence, a technique that determines how long ago crystalline mineral was exposed to sunlight or heated. Humans are only thought to have inhabited the region for the past 30,000 years. Even within the known history of the area, the only humans to inhabit the region were nomads whose lifestyle would not leave any such structures behind.

The state-run news agency  Xinhua in China reported  on the pyramid, the pipes, and the research began by a team scientists sent to investigate in 2002. 

Though some have since tried to explain the pipes as a natural phenomenon, Yang Ji, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua the pyramid may have been built by intelligent beings. He did not dismiss the theory that ancient extraterrestrials may be responsible, saying this theory is “understandable and worth looking into … but scientific means must be employed to prove whether or not it is true.”

Another theory is that it was built by prehistoric humans with techniques lost to humans of a later period. 

The pipes lead into a salty lake, though a twin lake nearby contains freshwater. The surrounding landscape is strewn with what Xinhua described as “strangely shaped stones.” Rocks protrude from the ground like broken pillars.

The head of the publicity department at the local Delingha government told Xinhua the pipes were analyzed at a local smeltery and 8 percent of the material could not be identified. The rest was made up of ferric oxide, silicon dioxide, and calcium oxide. The silicon dioxide and calcium oxide are products of long interaction between the iron and surrounding sandstone, showing the ancient age of the pipes. Liu Shaolin, the engineer who did the analysis, told Xinhua: “This result has made the site even more mysterious.”

“Nature is harsh here,” he said. “There are no residents let alone modern industry in the area, only a few migrant herdsmen to the north of the mountain.”

To further add to the mystery, Zheng Jiandong, a geology research fellow from the China Earthquake Administration  told state-run newspaper People’s Daily in 2007  that some of the pipes were found to be highly radioactive.  

Other Theories

Jiandong said iron-rich magma may have risen from deep in the Earth, bringing the iron into fissures where it would solidify into tubes. Though he admitted, “There is indeed something mysterious about these pipes.” He cited the radioactivity as an example of the strange qualities of the pipes.

Others have said iron sediments may have washed into the fissures, carried with water during floods.

Though Xinhua and other publications in China have referred to a pyramid or even a mysterious pyramid in which the pipes were found, some have said it was a pyramid-shaped natural formation. 

Another theory is that the pipes are fossilized tree roots.  Xinmin Weekly reported in 2003  that scientists found plant matter in an analysis of the pipes, and they also found what looked like tree rings. The article related the finding to a geological theory that in certain temperatures and under certain chemical conditions, tree roots can undergo diagenesis (transformation of soil into rock) and other processes that can produce iron formations.

Reports on the tree-root explanation for the so-called Baigong pipes often lead back to this Xinmin Weekly article or lack citation. It’s unclear exactly how well-supported this theory is in relation to the Baigong pipes.

An article published  in the Journal of Sedimentary Research in 1993 describes fossilized tree roots in South Louisiana in the United States.


Tsurugi's picture

Keep in mind that tree roots--roots of any kind actually--have a particular fondness for modern artificial piping that was most certainly made by humans. I have worked on a number of residential restoration projects, and came across plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that finding tree roots within pipe-like configurations by no means suggests that there was never a pipe there at all; it simply meant the roots had free space within which to grow and within which there was often water and concentrated mineral nutrients leaked from the surrounding soil.

You are exactly right. Artificial pipe deniers seem to forget tree roots DO NOT grow in straight lines, but will take up empty spaces within abandoned pipes and conduits. Once the roots become petrified they will seem to be a natural formation that accumulated iron deposits as an outer shell. I am amazed at how modern scientist and academics are so arrogant to think humans today are the apex of evolution. They never seem to accept there were highly advanced civilizations going back millions, if not billions of years, into a past long wiped away by natural geological processes

So we can trace life back through fossils hundreds of millions of years, even to before dinosaurs, but you are claiming the evidence of advanced human civilisations (fossilised remains, buildings, artefacts having a greater potential legacy than plant eating animals) were erased by plate tectonics, leaving stuff both before and after preserved? Life on Earth has certainly evolved complexity then had knock backs and taken different routes (e.g. Mammals replacing dinosaurs as dominant large land animals) and there are gaps in the evolutionary history of man, but there is just no evidence for your theory (and even a theory should have evidence supporting it, or it is just fantasy). Everything suggests man has been 'modern' for a few hundred thousand years, with the potential to be as he is now in terms of achievements, and started showing signs of being a smart ape maybe a few million years ago (e.g. Cave burials just found in Africa)

Tsurugi's picture

@StuartN Perhaps you should read my post again. I said nothing about plate tectonics, or ancient advanced civilizations, or dinosaurs, or any of that. I said roots can and do grow inside man-made pipes, I have seen this myself. The end.

However, seeing as how you've responded so energetically to my post--albeit not to anything I actually said in that post--I feel I should reply in turn to yours(though I hope you'll forgive me for sticking to the actual content of your post; I'm afraid I lack your imagination).

Fossil beds can span tens of millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of years. Other times they record a single frozen instant; these are usually the result of some catastrophic event.
All of known human history where we have been advanced enough to build things has spanned no more than 10-12k years, a tiny, miniscule blip in comparison to deep geological time in which we find fossils of dinosaurs, etc. Advancement comes quickly, and unless it lasts millions of years, has far less a chance to become specially preserved like some of the life of earlier epochs.

Still, perhaps the evidence is out there somewhere, still waiting to be found...? Perhaps some of it has already been found, but went unrecognized for what it was. Who knows?

Plate tectonics is the last thing I would think of as causing the obliteration of possible previous advanced cultures. Large impacts from space would be my guess. Such an event would destroy a civilization, but would possibly preserve some of it as well. But the preserved bits would have to eventually end up being exposed on the surface for us to have found it, unless we found it completely by chance in a mine or something. They may be there, but buried under miles of basaltic lava or sediment from tidal waves.

I am not claiming any of this is true, I am just saying it is by no meams out of the realm of possibility. Absence of evidence, and so on. :)


I’m surprised you didn’t mention Michael Cremo’s research.  I assume you are fimiliar with it.



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