Gunung Padang Is The Oldest Pyramid On Earth, Research Claims

With pieces that could be 28,000 years old, the structure at Gunung Padang could be the earliest pyramid that’s still standing today.

Ancient Indonesian Pyramid Gunung Padang

Wikimedia CommonsThe Gunung Padang site.

Though few seem to know it, there’s been an ancient pyramid that’s been hiding underneath a mountain in Indonesia for centuries. It’s known as Gunung Padang and one researcher has reason to believe that this may be the oldest pyramid still standing on Earth.

ScienceAlert reported that new research presented at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) 2018 Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C. proposed that the site of the world’s oldest known pyramid-like structure is actually at the Gunung Padang megalithic site, located in the West Java Province of Indonesia.

Gunung Padang Pyramid Indonesia

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja/ScienceAlertThe Gunung Padang site in Indonesia.

Over the course of several years, the research team studying Gunung Padang came to find that what appears to look like a hill is actually a structure consisting of layers with some foundations dating back 10,000 years or more.

“Our studies [prove] that the structure does not cover just the top but also wrap around the slopes covering about 15 hectares area at least,” the authors wrote in the abstract for their research. “The structures are not only superficial but rooted into greater depth.”

The research team — led by geophysicist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences — employed ground penetration radar (GPR), seismic tomography, and archaeological excavations in order to come to the conclusion that those foundation layers have been built over consecutive prehistoric periods.

Gunung Padang Pyramid

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja/ScienceAlertA diagram of the layers within the pyramid.

Diagrams of the structure that were created by researchers indicate that there are four of these layers that may have been built on top of each other. Preliminary radiocarbon dating suggests that the first outside layer of Gunung Padang might be 3,500 years old, the second layer approximately 8,000 years old, and the third somewhere between 9,500 to 28,000 years old.

These layers and the shape that they apparently form suggests to Natawidjaja that this is not a natural structure, but actually an ancient manmade pyramid. He also believes that the proposed pyramid may have had some sort of religious significance.

First Pyramid On Earth

Hans Hansson/FlickrVisitors explore the Gunung Padang site.

“It’s a unique temple,” Natawidjaja explained to LiveScience. “It’s not like the surrounding topography, which is very much eroded. This looks very young. It looked artificial to us.”

Although Natawidjaja’s research and excavations at the site certainly seems credible, it’s been met with some controversy from other archeologists.

Bandung Archaeological Center head Desril Riva Shanti has been critical of the methods that Natawidjaja’s team has used to come to these conclusions. “I’€™ve yet to go to the site but I can judge it from photographs. An archaeological excavation method shouldn’t’€™t have been carried out in that way,’€” Desril said. She said it would be better to conduct research at a site like Gunung Padang at a slower pace and with delicate tools.

Oldest Pyramid On Earth

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja/ScienceAlertThe Gunung Padang archeological site.

The first discovery of the Gunung Padang site was recorded by a Dutch farmer in 1941. It was uncovered a second time by a group of local farmers in 1979 and has been the subject of interest since. 

Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh has pledged to provide unlimited funds to research at Gunung Padang. And apparently, Natawidjaja has taken advantage of that funding for his latest presented research.

For now, the research proposed by Natawidjaja’s team has not been peer-reviewed. Even though these theories have yet to be proven true, the findings certainly make the Gunung Padang archeological site even more fascinating than originally thought.


After this look at Gunung Padang, discover how the pyramids of Egypt were built. Then, read about Gobekli Tepe, the oldest temple on Earth.

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