Professionals Question Claims that World’s Oldest Pyramid Was Discovered in Indonesia


    A headline-grabbing paper claiming that a construction in Indonesia is the oldest pyramid in the world has lifted the eyebrows of some archaeologists — and has now prompted an investigation by the journal that released it, Mother nature has learnt.

    The paper, printed in the journal Archaeological Prospection on 20 Oct, garnered headlines about the globe. Its central claim is that a pyramid lying beneath the prehistoric site of Gunung Padang in West Java, Indonesia, may possibly have been made as much back as 27,000 yrs back.

    That would make it considerably more mature than first colossal Egyptian pyramid, the 4,600-yr-old Pyramid of Djoser. It would also imply it pre-dates the oldest known megalithic web page, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, which was developed by stone-masons all over 11,000 yrs in the past. And it would entirely rewrite what is identified about human civilization in the area. “The pyramid has turn out to be a image of sophisticated civilization,” says paper co-author Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the Countrywide Investigate and Innovation Agency (BRIN) in Bandung, Indonesia. “It’s not quick to create pyramids. You have to have superior masonry abilities,” he states.

    It is just these types of claims that have left a lot of fellow scientists chilly. Lutfi Yondri, an archaeologist at BRIN in Bandung, Indonesia, states his do the job has shown that men and women in the area inhabited caves between 12,000 and 6,000 yrs ago, lengthy right after the pyramid was supposedly constructed, and no excavations from this period of time have unveiled evidence of innovative stonemasonry.

    “I’m shocked [the paper] was posted as is,” suggests Flint Dibble, an archaeologist at Cardiff College, British isles. He says that while the paper offers “legitimate data,” its conclusions about the web site and its age are not justified.

    Shaky foundations

    Gunung Padang comprises 5 stepped stone terraces, with retaining walls and connecting staircases, that sit atop an extinct volcano. Among 2011 and 2014, Natawidjaja and colleagues investigated the web-site using numerous floor-penetrating methods to establish what lies beneath the terraces.

    They discovered 4 levels, which they conclude characterize independent phases of building. The innermost layer is a hardened lava core, which has been “meticulously sculpted,” according to the paper.

    Subsequent layers of rocks “arranged like bricks” ended up developed around the top of the oldest layer. The levels have been carbon-dated, applying soil lodged amongst rocks received from a main drilled out of the hill. The initially phase of development, according to the paper, occurred amongst 27,000 and 16,000 a long time ago. Even more additions have been produced involving 8,000 and 7,500 several years in the past, and the ultimate layer, which consists of the obvious stepped terraces, was place in spot among 4,000 and 3,100 years in the past.

    Dibble claims that there is no apparent proof that the buried levels have been created by human beings and were not the outcome of natural weathering and motion of rocks over time. “Material rolling down a hill is likely to, on normal, orient by itself,” he claims. But Natawidjaja suggests that the column-formed stones ended up much too large and orderly to have simply just rolled there: “The neatly organized, formed and huge character of these rocks, some weighing up to 300 kilograms, dismisses the chance of transportation over important distances.”

    The authors also report locating a dagger-shaped stone. “This object’s typical geometry and distinct composition, and its supplies unrelated to the surrounding rocks, signify its artifical origin,” claims Natawidjaja. But Dibble suggests it is not likely that the rock was formed by individuals. There’s no proof of “working or nearly anything to show that it really is person-made,” he states.

    Amazing claims

    The Gunung Padang website highlighted in the 2022 Netflix documentary Historic Apocalypse, hosted by British creator Graham Hancock, who encourages an plan that an superior global civilization was wiped out 12,000 many years back at the finish of the previous ice age. The authors acknowledge Hancock for proofreading their paper.

    Natawidjaja suggests that for the reason that Gunung Padang was produced prior to the conclusion of the last ice age, it demonstrates that men and women from that time were being capable of constructing elaborate constructions, and “this makes it a incredibly interesting monument.”

    But Invoice Farley, an archaeologist at Southern Connecticut State College in New Haven, suggests the paper has not presented evidence that an highly developed civilization existed all through the last ice age. The 27,000-12 months-previous soil samples from Gunung Padang, despite the fact that correctly dated, do not carry hallmarks of human action, these types of as charcoal or bone fragments, he suggests. Archaeological records present that the changeover from hunter-gatherer societies to elaborate societies occupying significant settlements happened after the graduation of the Holocene 11,700 several years ago. The oldest known city is the 9,000 calendar year aged web-site of Çatalhöyük in what is now Turkey.

    Archaeological Prospection and its publisher, Wiley, have since introduced an investigation into the paper. Eileen Ernenwein, an archaeological geophysicist at Tennessee Condition University in Johnson Metropolis, who is co-editor of the journal stated in an e-mail to Nature: “The editors, together with me, and Wiley ethics crew are now investigating this paper in accordance with Committee on Publication Ethics tips.” She declined to elaborate on the character of the worries lifted.

    Farley says that folks ought to rejoice Gunung Padang for what it is — “an incredible, vital and cool site” — alternatively than mainly because it can be published into any particular narrative about the development of human civilization.

    Natawidjaja says that he hopes the controversy does not cause animosity in the group. “We are really open up to everyone scientists all around the environment would like to appear to Indonesia and do some study programme on Gunung Padang,” he says. “We know really small about our human record.”

    This short article is reproduced with authorization and was initially published on November 28, 2023.


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