Pyramid in Java Predates Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid?

Pyramid in Java, Indonesia Could be Older Than Egypt's Oldest One, as Recent Study Shows, but Some Started Questioning the Find.

Dec 8, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Pyramid in Java
Aerial view of the Gunung Padang in the West Java Province of Indonesia. Photo: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images.


Pyramid in Java province could predate Egypt’s oldest one. Overall, an archaeology team published a shocking research in October. They suggested the object in Java is a “multi-layered prehistoric pyramid” dating back “thousands of years B.C.E”. But, there is also another point of view. Rigorous examination by other specialists is casting doubt on that study.


Pyramid in Java Could Change How Wee See the Palaeolithic Era

Pyramid in Java
The Gunung Padang megalithic, Indonesia. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen/Fairfax Media via Getty Images.


According to geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja of Indonesia and his colleagues, Gunung Padang is a megalithic site, constructed up to 27,000 years ago in the shape of a pyramid. The structure also has five terraces. Overall, Archaeological Prospection magazine published the finds. In contrast, recent estimations place the site’s existence as early as 5,000 BCE.


Among other investigations, the scientists used radiocarbon dating and ground-based radar scans in arriving at their conclusions. Tracing the location that far back entirely alters our understanding of the Palaeolithic era. At that time, hunter-gatherers used simple stone weapons and resided in simple shelters. Additionally, it would make Gunung Padang much older than Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.


Pyramid in Java
The Gunung Padang. Via Raafi Wibisana


The Göbekli Tepe is a Neolithic site dotted with carved stones, some 11,000 years old. The study concluded that the builders of the Gunung Padang pyramid “possessed remarkable masonry capabilities, which do not align with the traditional hunter-gatherer cultures. The burial of these structures around 9,000 years ago adds further intrigue for reasons not fully understood”.

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Doubts in the Process

The Göbekli Tepe
The Göbekli Tepe. Via Ali Dincer


Several archaeologists disagree, disputing the study’s conclusions. “I’m surprised [the paper] was published as is”, Flint Dibble, an archaeologist at the U.K.’s Cardiff University told Nature, which first reported on the controversy. Natawidjaja’s assertions that “meticulously sculpted” stonework was present in the four stone levels supporting the terraces of Gunung Padang are the main target of Dibble’s criticisms.


Also, the investigation found that the layers formed at various phases. Each subsequent one features “regularly cut columnar rocks… arranged like bricks in a building”. Dibble, nevertheless, took issue with the paper’s suggestion that the building existed with “sophisticated construction techniques”. Speaking to Nature, he said that the layers at the location might have come from weathering or the movement of rocks naturally.




Archaeological Prospection has launched an investigation into the study, according to Nature, though Natawidjaja himself (who has long maintained these claims) welcomed the additional eyes and research on the site. “We know very little about our human history”, said ill Farley of the Southern Connecticut State University.










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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.