History Unwritten

Gunung Padang


How astounding would it be if science discovered an archaeological site at Gunung Padang that would present evidence of a civilization that lived and thrived 20.000 years ago. Wow what!!! 20.000 years! That’s 8.000 years before Gobekli Tepe, and a staggering 17.000 years before Stonehenge. It would be so amazing and the archaeologist who discovers it would be famous for all eternity. On the other hand, the academic world would be turned upside down. Think of the impact. Books would have to be rewritten, libraries checked, scholars would have to re-evaluate human history, and courses would have to be changed. So it's not unthinkable the academic world is doing everything possible to sabotage the excavation. Right?

Basalt block are everywhere on the mountain
Basalt block are everywhere on the mountain

The research so far:

Gunung Padang is a megalithic site located in Karyamukti village, in the West Java province in Indonesia. The first archeological survey of Gunung Padang appears in “reports of the department of antiquities” for Holland’s colonial office in 1914. Thirty-three years later, a Canberra team from the Australian national university’s center for archaeological research determined it was far older than previously thought. It took until 2012 that the indonesian government ordered an evaluation of the site. Radiocarbon testing revealed it was build and first occupied 4800 years ago. It's a mountain site that is covered with megalithic basalt blocks which remind of the blocks at the giant's causeway. The blocks were formed naturally from a volcanic eruption, but the location where the blocks came from remains unknown. The site consists of 5 terraces. Each terrace is bordered by retaining walls of stone. A long staircase of Andesite steps, which rise about 95 meters, provide access to all the terraces.

Excavators at work
Excavators at work

What's all the fuss about:

Dr. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, The leading archaeologist, claims that the mountain is actually a gigantic buried pyramid. Excavations and scans have revealed there are hidden chambers inside the mound. Last year Dr. Natawidjaja conducted extensive surveys of the site. These included geo-electric surveys, ground-penetrating radar, core samples, and analysis of stonework. Based on the results, he firmly believes that most of the 100-metre hill is actually man-made. However, it was built up to several stages over thousands of years and by different cultures. These claims have been met with a lot of criticism. Researcher Graham Hancock, who has suggested the site could potentially offer proof for a lost advanced civilization of prehistoric antiquity, states on his website that “the archaeological establishment is scrambling to find some reason to reject and pour scorn on the extraordinary consequences of the excavations now taking place at Gunung Padang”.

Top view of Gunung Padang
Top view of Gunung Padang

So what do the critics say about Gunung Padang:

The argument of volcanologist Sutikno Bronto is that Gunung Padang is the neck of a volcano and thus a natural formation. Further research in the area shows that in the Pawon cave in Padalarang [about 45 kilometres from Gunung Padang], we found some human bones and tools made of bones about 9500 years ago, or 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?'' the archaeologist asks. Thirty-four scientist have signed a petition against the practices of Dr. Hillman. Especially his plans to draw in five-hundred untrained volunteers to help excavate the site is met with great negative reactions.     

In conclusion

As you've probably noticed by now, we love alternative origin stories. We'd love to see someone stumble across definitive proof of an advanced ancient civilization that was wiped out by an immense natural disaster. But to be honest, of all the stories that suggest this might be the case, this one is the least appealing. It's an unconvincing tale, and even though both parties make good arguments, reading about it isn't easy. It's hard to find any good info on the topic, and whenever you read opinions about it, you tend to agree with that particular one, be it pro or con. Eventually I got frustrated with the bickering of both parties and I feel like they should just dig up the damned mountain already. Thankfully, the Indonesian government is planning to do just that and they are currently spending massive amounts of money on the project. Hopefully we'll see some more news about it soon.

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