A Prehistoric Pyramid May Have Just Rewritten Human History, Scientists Claim
The pyramid of Gunung Padang in Indonesia began construction in the deep past, a new study claims, and was built by an unknown ancient people.
The pyramids of Egypt are staggeringly ancient. By the time of Cleopatra, they were already thousands of years old. But new research claims that another pyramid might have them all beat, potentially rewriting the history of human civilization.
A team of researchers say in a new study that Gunung Padang, a pyramid in Indonesia, is at least 16,000 years old, roughly 10,000 years older than the pyramid of Djoser in Egypt, long thought to be the world’s oldest.
The researchers, who hail from a collection of universities and institutions in Indonesia, say this makes Gunung Padang “potentially…the oldest pyramid in the world.” In contrast, ancient Egyptians are believed to have begun construction on the Djoser pyramid roughly 5,000 years ago. The new research indicates that Gunung Padang is a highly complex, prehistoric pyramid that sheds “light on the engineering capabilities of ancient civilizations during the Palaeolithic era,” also known as the Stone Age.
Gunung Padang is a pyramid-shaped mound of terraced earth adorned with ancient stone built on top of an extinct volcano. It has long been acknowledged as an ancient site, but just how old has been a matter of some debate. Most estimates have placed it under 2,000 years old, but Indonesian geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja—one of the study’s co-authors—has long claimed that the site is much older. A decade ago, Natawidjaja’s claims caught the attention of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who set up a task force to study the pyramid, which included Natawidjaja.