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Atop Gunung Padang mountain / pyramid.

That Ancient Indonesian Pyramid Believed to Be 11,000 Years Older Than Göbekli Tepe Has Been “Discovered” Again

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Geologists working on the island of Java using radar images have claimed, like many before them, that they have “located a mysterious ancient pyramid deep within a dense forest,” dating back to the mythological era of the lost super-civilization of Atlantis.

According to RIA Novosti, Andang Bakhtiar, a geologist from the oil company Maurel & Prom and his colleagues, “accidentally discovered one of the largest and potentially the most ancient man-made pyramid(s) in history, studying the slopes of mount Padang in the Western part of Java island,” reports an article in The Silver Post. (Note: A University has not been mentioned and The Silver Post is not a recognized academic outlet for peer reviewed research.)

Gunung Pagang site. (Mohammad Fadli / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Gunung Pagang site. (Mohammad Fadli / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Reveal

At a meeting of the American Geological Union the researchers said, “We believed that in the past this hill was some kind of building. It turns out, it extends far down, consisting of several layers and is actually the entire volume of the hill.” The researchers conducted excavations on “the slopes of the mountain” and said that they “filled it with radars and other devices” to detect “hidden voids and traces of ancient artifacts by changes in the electric or the magnetic resistance of the soil.”

Scanning Provides Proof?

They maintain that their scanning proves, “Much to their surprise” that a man-made structure “partly covered with soil and overgrown forest” was measured at “15 acres” and about “30 meters (98 feet)” high. The pyramid consists of “three parts built in the crater of an extinct volcano” at separate times. The first layer was lined with “similar blocks mixed with sand and radiocarbon analysis gives a date of “15,000 to 28,000 thousand years ago” and the upper layers were added about “8.3 and 3.5 thousand years ago.”

And with radar images indicating the existence of “cavities inside the pyramid,” the scientists are saying this might “indicate the presence of hidden rooms or partially recessed areas in the thickness of the hill structures.” The archaeologists concluded that “this proves that the pyramid was indeed a temple, not just dumping or “Observatory” as the famous Stonehenge.”

Fifth terrace of Gunung Padang Megalithic Site. (Beeyan / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Fifth terrace of Gunung Padang Megalithic Site. (Beeyan / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Skeptics and 99% Of Scientists Are Having ‘None of It’

Since its discovery by Dutch colonists in 1914, the Gunung Padang mound has been regarded by ‘some’, as being the largest of several ancient megalithic sites in Indonesia. However, 99% of university professors of archaeology and geology will quickly tell you a megalith does not exist and the dating is an entire political hoax, as this Skeptic ink article clearly establishes.
While authors like Graham Hancock see this “pyramid” as hard evidence of an antediluvian civilization   with high technology, in a probing and revealing July 2013 article titled, Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site, Michael Bachelard, a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a senior geologist at Indonesia's Centre for Geotechnical Research.

Scenery around Mount Padang. (Ardy79 / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Scenery around Mount Padang. (Ardy79 / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Proof of an Advanced Ancient Civilization?

Dr. Hilman said that Gunung Padang “could predate the next oldest [pyramid] by a dozen millenniums or more, suggesting an advanced ancient civilization inhabited Java “up to 20,000 years ago.” “It's crazy, but it's data” he added. Bachelard pointed out that Hilman’s idea was adopted by former activist turned politician and member of Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, Andy Arif. In fact, President Yudhoyono “was so impressed” with the early dating that he appointed a government taskforce to investigate further. Urging haste, he described the work as a "task of history … of important value for humanity.”

Journalist Bachelard said the whole ‘dating’ of the monument was a veiled "nationalistic quest” and respected volcanologist, Sutikno Bronto, commented “Danny Hilman is not a volcanologist. I am. Gunung Padang is simply the neck of a nearby volcano, not an ancient pyramid.” And this is the view of the greatest part of the archaeological community; that there is quite simply “nothing there,” it is all an illusion “keeping people in jobs.”

Thirty-four Indonesian Scientists are Questioning the Motives and Methods of the Hilman-Arif Team

As for the “carbon-dated cement between the stones,” by which geologist Andang Bakhtiar now, and Hilman in 2016 dated the site, Sutikno believes it is simply “the byproduct of a natural weathering process” - anything but ‘man-made.’ A skeptical archaeologist who remained anonymous in the Sydney Morning Herald article argued that in the Pawon cave in Padalarang, about 45 kilometers from Gunung Padang, bone tools were found which dated to about 7000 BC. If at 7000 BC bone tools were being used there, then “how did people from 20,000 BC have the technologies to build a pyramid?”

One of several cliffs in Citatah close to the Pawon Cave. (Ocyid X / CC BY-SA 4.0)

One of several cliffs in Citatah close to the Pawon Cave. (Ocyid X / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Speaking of Hilman’s dubious dating, the archaeologist added that he had, “found something, carbon-dated it, then it looks like they created a civilization around the period to explain their findings.” And if you are still hanging onto the idea of an Atlantean pyramid, then you are up against “Thirty-four Indonesian scientists” including leading archaeologists and geologists who all signed a petition “questioning the motives and methods of the Hilman-Arif team.”

Top image: Atop Gunung Padang mountain / pyramid.   Source: CC BY-SA 4.0

By Ashley Cowie



I was with you right up the the word, "Temple".

Jesus Christ. What is it with archaeologists saying everything they can't immediately identify a religious building? The Great Pyramid is STILL called a Tomb, when we all know that is not so. It will always be called a tomb, because it was called a tomb by an archaeologist. Gobekli Tepe is clearly and obviously a town. But an archaeologist called the oldest temple, so that albatross will ever hang on its' neck. Obscuring all future research.

KNOCK IT OFF. Scientists don't leap to conclusions. Religious people do. Figure out who you are AND WORK THAT SIDE OF THE STREET.

God dammit.

Gary Moran's picture

I have not seen any news about this site for 6 months, appears that investigation is still blocked or stalled? I don’t suppose any sort of pressure on the government would get things re-started. This seems to have the potential for really enlightening discoveries, shame it is blocked. If the government would allow, I would certainly be willing to contribute funds just to help find out.

Has a neoliberal bias poisoned our thinking on archaeological discoveries?

Government funding doesn't always mean that lies will be portrayed as fact. To some extent, this is true. There are always liberties taken with the truth, but that is more attributable to human weakness and cognitive bias rather than the source of funding.

Government funding of archaeology is EXTREMELY positive. Sometimes, it is the only way that the past gets preserved. Some of the worst dictators in history, like Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, and Ghaddafi, had a mostly positive impact on archaeology. Conversely, some of the worst preservers of history have been the current ruling regime, the market-orthodox neoliberals.

The neoliberals were the ones who opened the door to widescale looting and destruction of many ancient artifacts and temples throughout the Middle East through mass bombing campaigns and destabilization of local economies.

Just because a government funds archaeology doesn't mean that the research produced will be false. In fact, government sponsorship of archaeology, even by brutal dictatorships, has been mostly positive.

Ashley, I strongly encourage you to be less critical of the funding source and to focus more on the validity of the science behind the dating methods. As it stands, this article reads more like a gossip piece than your usual work (which is usually stellar and great to read).

I’m not convinced that the Indonesian archaeologists are so much afraid of losing their funding as of discoveries messing up their neat timeline of human evolution

Gary Moran's picture

What are 34 Indonesian scientists afraid of? Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but that seems to me like another glaring example of selfishness. Afraid that funding for their activities or pet projects will be transferred to Gunung Padang? They question the motives and methods, but not the data? 

The radar soundings and drilling resulting in the 22KYA dating was done in 2015, and funding was supposedly granted and then withdrawn shortly afterward as a result of opposition by the groups mentioned in the article – what’s happened since then? Has opposition been so thoroughly employed as to halt all progress? 

Is there any current news? 

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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