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Gunung Padang: The World Before Civilisation

The remains of an Indonesian pyramid were studied recently and are estimated to have been built some time around 25,000 and 14,000 B.C. Gunung Padang, meaning “mountain of enlightenment”, is located in West Java, Indonesia built onto the side of a volcano.

The appearance of this pyramid is quite unlike what we know from the triangular shape of the Egyptian pyramids, and that might be because the Gunung Padang existed far prior to the construction of the pyramids of Giza.


Scientists believe that this could be the oldest monolithic structure in the world according to BBC, possibly even older than infamous landmarks such as England’s Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids, both of which were built around 3200 B.C. 


It is believed that after Gunung Padang was built, it had been abandoned for thousands of years until 7000 B.C when it was intentionally buried and lost to history. Dutch colonists are hypothesised to be the first to come across this massive monument and were probably in awe of the sheer size of the pyramid ruins.


Danny Hilman, a geologist from Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency, used a variety of carbon-14 dating techniques on walls around the site. A report from the National Post states:


“...Hilman claims to have found evidence of underground chambers at the site, with the main chamber estimated at 10 metres high, 10 long and 15 wide — a vast hall large enough store untold treasures. He is pushing for future excavations to include directional drilling and downhole cameras in the hopes of revealing more.”


This news, however, should not come as a surprise. In 2018, a group of researchers and geologists led by Hilman conducted research and discovered that Gunung Padang was not a simple hill, rather it was layers of ancient structures.


The very top layer of this enormous structure is made up of columns, walls and paths, while 1-3 metres below is another layer. Mistaken for being part of the natural rock formation of the hill, researches have discovered that this second layer is made up of more rock columns organised in a grid structure.


There were more layers below, Hilman stated back in 2018 that he believed the pyramid might have served a religious purpose. There was a lot of speculation surrounding Hilman and his team’s findings.


According to the 2018 article by Science Alert, a lot of people were not convinced by the reports and findings of the Gunung Padang team. Hilman’s research had been subject to controversy in archaelogy circles and researchers were skeptical of his research methods.


Despite the controversy behind the research conducted at Gunung Padang, this monolithic structure not only mesmerises us through its immense size and its obscure origins. It could be considered the oldest structure in the world, predating our knowledge of the earliest known civilisations. 


An archaeologist quoted this in the National Post:


“In the Pawon cave in Padalarang [about 45 kilometres from Gunung Padang], we found some human bones and tools made of bones [from] about 7000 BCE. So, if at 7000 BCE our technology was only producing tools of bones, how can people from 20,000 BCE obtain the technology to build a pyramid?”


Further research will be conducted at the Gunung Padang site, and hopefully will uncover the secrets of its construction and history.

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