26 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

New evidence suggests Indonesia’s Gunung Padang could be world’s oldest known pyramid

Gunung Padang, a  colossal megalithic structure nestled in the lush landscapes of West Java, Indonesia, could be the world’s oldest pyramid. Recent research suggests that this ancient site may predate Egypt’s famous pyramids and is even older than the stone wonders of Türkiye’s Göbekli Tepe.

A team of archaeologists, geophysicists, geologists, and paleontologists affiliated with multiple institutions in Indonesia has found evidence showing that Gunung Padang is the oldest known pyramid in the world.

The group describes their multi-year study of the cultural heritage site in their article published in the interdisciplinary archeology journal Archaeological Prospection in October.

Gunung Padang, also known as the “mountain of enlightenment”, sits at the top of an extinct volcano and is considered a sacred site by locals. In 1998, Gunung Padang was declared a national cultural heritage site.

Led by geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja and his team at Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency, the new research suggests that Gunung Padang dates back to the last Ice Age, around 25,000 to 14,000 years ago.

Gunung Padang sits at the top of an extinct volcano and is considered a sacred site by locals. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM JATILUHURONLINE
Gunung Padang sits at the top of an extinct volcano and is considered a sacred site by locals. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM JATILUHURONLINE

The oldest construction of the pyramid likely “originated as a natural lava hill before being sculpted and then architecturally enveloped”, according to the team. This makes Gunung Padang at least 16,000 years old.

The pyramid was finished between 2,000 BC and 1,100 BC, according to the study.

More specifically, the researchers discovered evidence of several efforts that, when combined over time, resulted in a completed structure. The first was sculpted lava, in which builders carved shapes into the top of a small, dead volcano. Another group added a layer of bricks and rock columns several thousand years later, sometime between 7900 and 6100 BCE. Another group later added a dirt layer to part of the hill, covering some of the earlier work. Then, between 2000 and 1100 BCE, another group added additional topsoil, stone terracing, and other elements.

The study challenges conventional beliefs by highlighting the advanced masonry capabilities exhibited by the builders of Gunung Padang. Contrary to expectations based on traditional hunter-gatherer cultures, the research reveals the existence of advanced construction practices during the last glacial period.

(a) Aerial view of Gunung Padang taken from a helicopter. (b) Topography and site map generated from a detailed geodetic survey. (c) Geology map of the Gunung Padang region (Sudjatmiko, 1972). (d) Orthophoto map obtained from a drone survey conducted in 2014, indicating the locations of trenching sites (white rectangles) and core-drilling sites (red dots). T1, Terrace 1; T2, Terrace 2; T3, Terrace 3; T4, Terrace 4; T5, Terrace 5. Credit: Archaeological Prospection (2023). DOI: 10.1002/arp.1912
(a) Aerial view of Gunung Padang taken from a helicopter. (b) Topography and site map generated from a detailed geodetic survey. (c) Geology map of the Gunung Padang region (Sudjatmiko, 1972). (d) Orthophoto map obtained from a drone survey conducted in 2014, indicating the locations of trenching sites (white rectangles) and core-drilling sites (red dots). T1, Terrace 1; T2, Terrace 2; T3, Terrace 3; T4, Terrace 4; T5, Terrace 5. Credit: Archaeological Prospection (2023). DOI: 10.1002/arp.1912

The research team conducted a long-term, scientific study of the structure for this new study. They studied the structure using seismic tomography, electrical resistivity tomography, and ground-penetrating radar from 2011 to 2015. They also drilled down into the hill and collected core samples, which allowed them to use radiocarbon dating techniques to determine the ages of the hill’s layers.

The research team has also found some evidence suggesting there might be some hollow parts inside the structure, suggesting possible hidden chambers. They plan to drill down to them and then lower a camera to see what might be in these areas.

“Gunung Padang stands as a remarkable testament, potentially being the oldest pyramid in the world,” said the researchers in the paper.

DOI: 10.1002/arp.1912

Related Articles

Archaeologists discovered the secret ingredient that made Mayan plaster durable

20 April 2023

20 April 2023

Ancient Mayan masons had their own secrets for making lime plasters, mortars, and plasters, which they used to build their...

Oldest known arrowheads uncovered in the Americas

24 December 2022

24 December 2022

Archaeologists from Oregon State University have discovered projectile points in Idaho that are thousands of years older than any that...

A large hall from the time of Viking Harald Bluetooth discovered

26 December 2022

26 December 2022

A large hall from the reign of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark and Norway was unearthed during housing construction work...

The oldest meerschaum artifact found in Anatolia; of Çavlum Seal

18 July 2021

18 July 2021

The stamp seal unearthed during the rescue excavations of Çavlum Village on the Eskişehir Alpu Plain is the oldest meerschaum...

A cobbled ford uncovered near Evesham could be the finest Roman example of its type in Britain

19 October 2022

19 October 2022

A cobbled ford believed to be of Roman construction has been discovered near Evesham in Worcestershire, England. If the path...

19 funerary tombs from Roman times were discovered in Tartus, Syria

27 May 2022

27 May 2022

During search and excavation operations in the archaeological area of Amrit in Tartus, Syria, a joint excavation team from the...

New Findings from 3,000-year-old Uluburun shipwreck: Uzbekistan Nomads Supplied a Third of the Bronze Used Across Ancient Mediterranean

5 December 2022

5 December 2022

A new study of the 3,o00 years old Uluburun shipwreck revealed a complex ancient trading network during the late bronze...

A 4000-Year-Old Seal Found in the prehistoric coastal site of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman

5 April 2024

5 April 2024

Archaeologists discovered a Gulf-type seal made of soft stone dating to the end of the third millennium BC at Kalba,...

Copious Copper Supplies Made Cyprus a Trading Center in the Bronze Age

23 March 2023

23 March 2023

Cyprus was a surprisingly busy trading hub during the early period of international trade in the Mediterranean region. Its awe-inspiring...

Earliest evidence of forest management discovered at the La Draga Neolithic site in Spain

19 July 2023

19 July 2023

Archaeologists have discovered the earliest evidence of forest management at the La Draga Neolithic site in northeastern Spain. A scientific...

A woman in Norway found Viking-age 1000-year-old hoard in basement

20 April 2023

20 April 2023

A woman in Norway cleaned her parents’ home, she found 32 iron ingots dating to the Viking or early Middle...

Monumental Roman complex discovered in France

19 March 2023

19 March 2023

In the city of Reims in northeastern France, archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman-era monumental complex dating from the 2nd...

Ancient tomb chamber discovered in north China

3 January 2022

3 January 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed a tomb with a stone outer coffin dating back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) in north...

In the Black Sea, there is a “Ship Graveyard” with 2,500 years of wrecked ships

15 February 2022

15 February 2022

The Black Sea is the inland sea lying between Europe and Asia. Blacksea is located in Eurasia, surrounded by Europe,...

A spectacular rare ancient Roman bronze coin depicting the moon goddess was discovered off the coast of Israel

25 July 2022

25 July 2022

A rare 1850-year-old exceptionally well-preserved bronze coin depicting the Roman moon goddess Luna has been found off the coast of...