Gunung Padang, a pyramid hidden within a hill on an island in West Java, Indonesia, could be the world’s oldest, says an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists, geophysicists and geologists.
Sitting at the top of an extinct volcano, Gunung Padang is considered a sacred site by local people. Also known as “mountain of enlightenment,” it was declared a national cultural heritage site in 1998.
Over the years, there have been disagreements among scholars about the nature of the hill. Some suggested that it was a man-made pyramid, while others argued it was a natural geological formation. The researchers have now found that Gunung Padang was made mostly by human hands. They have also found evidence that the structure was built in stages thousands of years apart.
The oldest construction of the pyramid probably “originated as a natural lava hill before being sculpted and then architecturally enveloped” between 25,000 BC and 14,000 BC, said the researchers, making the pyramid at least 16,000 years old.
Gunung Padang was finished between 2,000 BC and 1,100 BC, according to the latest study. Its field survey began in October 2011 and ended in October 2014.
The research was published in the interdisciplinary archaeological journal Archaeological Prospection in October.