150,000-Year-Old Pipes in China

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


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.

Featured image: Baigong Cave, with photo of pipe in the bottom left. Source.

The article " 150,000-Year-Old Pipes Baffle Scientists in China: Out of Place in Time? " was first published by Epoch Times


The Doctor needs to do a better job at hiding his work from when he goes back in time and to the future, etc.

It's much more likely that the dating technique is wrong.

Tsurugi's picture

Fallacies. Who decides what is "likely", or what is "extraordinary"?

The history of science is replete with examples of what was considered "extraordinary" becoming the norm, the wildly unlikely becoming the everyday. Just goes to show the truth in what Feynman said, "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

I don't mean to come across as rude and do enjoy a good debate, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and you really are not presenting any...

Even the 'young creation' claims made by extreme christian 'thinkers' (which many are obviously not doing very effectively) have some writings they can point to as 'evidence' supporting their case, although the writings are not contemporary to the time they speak of (and are probably borrowed from other far older religions in many cases, e.g. the flood story may well have been taught to early jews who attended 'school' in Sumeria) and they choose to ignore other written/verbal works, monuments, fossils and most of modern science (to the point where their use of a PC to type their comments seems hypocritical).

The most likely explanation ought to be the starting point. Rule out that one then explore the next most likely. Once you have ruled out the probable, then you are left with the improbable - all the way from 150,000 year old human culture irrigating an area through to visiting aliens who, despite having spacecraft, feel the need to build primitive pipes.

You seem to be starting with some of the least likely explanations and presenting no evidence, saying in 'it all got lost under the continental plates' when in fact there is far older evidence in plain sight (e.g. dinosaur bones falling out of cliff sides or scattered in deserts that are 150 - 300m years old) that did not end up under a continental plate?

All I see in the photo is a cross section which shows varied wall thickness, hinting at a natural origin. The fact that these all vary in thickness rather than being uniform again suggests a natural origin, as that is exactly how tree roots from. I don't see a photo that shows long lengths of regular thickness (both wall thickness and overall circumference) pipe. Nature does straight lines (e.g. fractures in rock, laying down of sediment and even tunnelling animals can do fairly straight lines) and tree roots would follow this line of least resistance. Any minerals that later wash into the area would also follow the course of least resistance and fill in the gaps around the tree roots.

All the evidence, going back millions and even billions of years, shows evolution of life on earth (sometimes steady, sometimes over a few generations due to certain events/mutations, sometimes coming to dead ends or extinction events) and mankind being the most technologically advanced by a long long way. Some apes bash nuts with rocks, some birds build complex nests, some fish set stones and shells in complex patterns, termites build (on their scale) huge skyscrapers, wasps make paper pulp etc etc but modern man is different. We have changed the face of the planet so much that we even have a geological 'era' named after us. We seem to be the apex in terms of technology. We are not the most successful by a long way - e.g. dinosaurs were around longer, insects are more numerous etc. In fact we might be ones of 'natures' great failures as we seem to be destroying the very ecosystem we depend on and are likely to take most other complex life down with us! Or, we might reach the stars and find we are not alone?

I was referring to roots not growing in straight lines. The pipes shown were straight, as shown in the cave picture. Indeed, the pipes were of varying in diameter and thickness. This is further proof they were of very ancient origins and intended purpose. I never said the Earth was around before or at the time of the Big Bang (Act of Creation)


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