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Indonesia’s Gunung Padang could be the world’s oldest pyramid

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – A pyramid hidden within a hill on an island in West Java, Indonesia, could be the world’s oldest.

This was revealed by an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, geophysicists and geologists, including corresponding author Danny Hilman Natawidjaja from Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency, in a paper published in October in the interdisciplinary archaeological journal Archaeological Prospection.

Gunung Padang, also known as “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.

Over the years, there have been disagreements among scholars about the nature of the hill.

Some argued that it was a man-made pyramid, while others said it was a natural geological formation.

Dr Natawidjaja and the team found that Gunung Padang was made mostly by human hands and found evidence that the structure was built in stages – thousands of years apart.

Gunung Padang sits at the top of an extinct volcano and is considered a sacred site by locals. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

The oldest construction of the pyramid likely “originated as a natural lava hill before being sculpted and then architecturally enveloped” between 25,000BCE and 14,000BCE, according to the team. This makes Gunung Padang at least 16,000 years old.

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

The field survey of Gunung Padang began in October 2011 and ended in October 2014, said the paper.

The team, which documented the study of the site, drilled into the mound’s centre, dug trenches and took soil samples, among other things.

This helped the researchers delve into the first layers of Gunung Padang, more than 30m below its surface.

“This study strongly suggests that Gunung Padang is not a natural hill but a pyramid-like construction,” said the researchers in the paper.

The team also found evidence of “a large cavity”, possibly a hidden chamber, within the pyramid.

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

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