Known since the early 19th-century, the Gunung Padang Megalithic site in Indonesia sits roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from Java and has long been believed to be an ancient tombstone constructed of large volcanic rocks called basaltic andesite. A deeper look suggests a much more dramatic story.
Presenting at the annual American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington, DC, the researchers note that their surveys suggest the structure does not cover just the top of the mountain but also wraps around its slopes, covering an area of at least 15 hectares. The exposed site is built on top of older, more sophisticated rock that suggests the mountain may not be a mountain at all but rather the world’s oldest pyramid-like structure.
Before presenting their findings, the researchers conducted comprehensive geophysical surveys that use ground penetration radar (GPR), a method that harnesses high-frequency radio signals transmitted into the ground to produce images of below the surface. They also conducted traditional archaeological excavations and took core samples. Altogether, their work suggests the structures aren’t just superficial but “rooted into greater depth”.
“The structures are not built at once but consisting [sic] of several layers from consecutive periods,” reads the abstract, which is pending publication in Earth and Space Science Open Archive. “The uppermost layer of the surface consists of horizontal piles of basaltic columnar rocks forming step-structure terraces and decorated by exotic arrangements of stand-up columns forming walls, paths, and spaces.”
Previously believed to be a natural rock formation, the second layer is buried between 1 and 3 meters (3.3 and 10 feet) below ground and consists of similar column rocks several meters thick. Additionally, the third layer is made up of artificial rock fragments that extend about 15 meters (50 feet) deep, sitting on a fractured basaltic lava tongue. Preliminary radiocarbon dating indicates that the first layer was built around 3,000 years ago, the second being built 4,000 years before that, and the third having been built more than 9,500 years ago and could be as old as 28,000 years.
As Live Science notes, the elongated structure may resemble a pyramid but it differs from those constructed by the Mayans, which tend to be symmetrical.
The researchers conclude in their poster presentation that their findings are preliminary, and the site “deserves further investigations, particularly on what lies beneath the megalithic site,” including large cavities and chambers buried deep below the surface. What might they contain? For now, our imaginations will have to suffice.
[H/T: Live Science]