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Archaeology & History

Major controversy surrounds 27,000-year-old 'pyramid' Gunung Padang

By T.K. Randall
March 29, 2024 · Comment icon 79 comments
Gunung Padang in Indonesia.
Gunung Padang. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 RaiyaniM
A recent paper concerning the controversial site in Indonesia has been fully retracted by publishers.
Gunung Padang, which is situated in West Java, Indonesia, has long remained one of the most mysterious and hotly debated sites in archaeology.

Located 885 meters above sea level, the site, which covers an extinct volcano, consists of a series of steps and terraces and is home to thousands of hexagonal stone columns that are strewn everywhere.

For years, scientists have struggled to agree on exactly how old the site is.

Back in November 2023, radiocarbon dating test results suggested that the oldest parts of the structure date back at least 16,000 years and could even date back as far as 27,000 years.

If Gunung Padang really is over 16,000 years old, then it predates the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and even Turkey's Gobekli Tepe - a site that had already shaken up our understanding of what our ancestors were capable of around 11,000 years ago.

Beyond that, if construction of the site dates back 27,000 years, then it completely rewrites the history books and opens up big questions about our history.
Such a claim would seem to be groundbreaking - but there's a catch.

In truth, the results of this recent study are controversial to say the least.

Following a backlash from the archaeological community, the study, which had been published in the journal Archaeological Prospection, has now been retracted altogether.

The study authors have maintained that the data is accurate and that the decision to remove their work from the journal has been based on "unfounded claims raised by third parties who hold differing opinions and disbelieve in the evidence, analysis, and conclusions."

It would be no exaggeration to state that the date of Gunung Padang has been a major point of contention over the years, with experts on both sides of the debate failing to see eye to eye.

There's no doubt that the site is of archaeological importance, but whether it really was built tens of thousands of years ago is a question that's unlikely to be settled anytime soon.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (79)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #70 Posted by Saru 22 days ago
I did a search but I wasn't able to find a match for the topic or the username.
Comment icon #71 Posted by Abramelin 22 days ago
I even remember the - geological - images I posted. I am a 100% sure his/her username started with 'Nusantara', which means something like 'many islands' in Baha Indonesia. Ok. Thanks for the effort, Saru. Edited to add: Another edit, now concerning the username:  
Comment icon #72 Posted by Abramelin 22 days ago
An interesting link:
Comment icon #73 Posted by Abramelin 22 days ago
Found it:    
Comment icon #74 Posted by Windowpane 21 days ago
  (Archive material from Nov. 2023) Post-publication expert critiques of the Archaeological Prospection article.
Comment icon #75 Posted by Zetorian 21 days ago
So they have made such childish errors after all? They took soil samples only without finding any artifacts? 
Comment icon #76 Posted by Trelane 21 days ago
Ignoring the data that points to Florida is why this is rubbish.?
Comment icon #77 Posted by Kenemet 21 days ago
In general, I think it's a form of nationalism... "we had it first."  People are reluctant to think that their land might not be special in some way.
Comment icon #78 Posted by Kenemet 21 days ago
Yep. And their excavation methods were rubbish, frankly.  Several of us have been on professional digs.  You don't just date some random soil sample with radiocarbon dating (you use soil profiles) because many natural events (gopher burrows for example) can move older soil up to the surface or newer material down into the burrow. 
Comment icon #79 Posted by Harte 21 days ago
Exactly. It's "Look ! We've found old dirt!" Harte

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