We keep finding things that remind us our view of history has a lot of holes in it. We seem to be finding lost cities, hidden temples, and the remains of civilizations that completely re-frame how we think of them at an ever increasing rate. Recently, the megalithic site Gunung Panang in West Java, Indonesia was confirmed to be an enormous “pyramid” structure possibly as old as 28,000 years.
According to Live Science, The finding was presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union on December 12. Gunung Padang has been on archaeologists radar for a long time, and embroiled in controversy. A hilltop archaeological site first discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century in West Java, Indonesia, Gunung Padang was long thought to hold more secrets than the assortment of stone columns visible at the top of the site. A imaging and excavation effort that begun in 2014 has now proved that it’s not a hilltop site at all, but in fact the entire hill is an artificial structure, which scientists believe to be a ancient temple. The structure is over 150,000 square meters big, and the the layers of construction date from 3,000 to over 9,000 years ago, with the deepest layer of construction possibly as old as 28,000 years.
According to Andang Bachtiar, an independent geologists who supervised core drilling and soil analysis:
“What is previously seen as just surface building, it’s going down — and it’s a huge structure”
Scientists began to suspect something was off about the site when they saw that the standing stones on the hill didn’t match some of the exposed features of the previous archaeological site. They also noticed that the hill stood out from the rest of the topography on Mount Padang. Lead researcher Danny Hilman Natawidjaja explained:
“It’s not like the surrounding topography, which is very much eroded. This looks very young. It looked artificial to us.”
Using ground-penetrating radar, X-ray tomography, core samples, and excavation, researchers began to put together what this huge pyramid looks like. Unlike the symmetrical Mayan pyramids, this is an elongated structure rounded in a half-circle in on the front. Different layers make up the pyramid, representing different periods of construction across the millennia. The first layer consists of basalt terraces, walls and paths. Ten feet below the surface is a second layer of stone columns thought to be 7,500 to 8,300 years old. Below that, a third layer stretches 49 feet below the surface and could be anywhere from 9,000 to 28,000 years old. Researchers also detected multiple underground chambers but those have yet to be excavated or imaged.
The site is still in use as a place of prayer and meditation serving the local people, and researchers think that this may have been its function since it was first built thousands of years ago. Yet, it will be some time before the temple, or whatever it is, will be fully unearthed and researchers know its true purpose or scope.