World’s Oldest Pyramid Unearthed on Top of Sacred Volcano

A view of Gunung Padang

It is intriguing that this archaeological site is situated atop an ancient volcano in Indonesia. Revered as a sacred place by the local population, Gunung Padang, which translates to the “Mountain of Enlightenment,” was declared a cultural heritage site in 1998. However, the exact nature of this small mountain, crowned with ancient megalithic structures, remained uncertain. While initial descriptions from the late 19th century described it as an ancient cemetery, subsequent studies concluded that it was a natural hill with some stones erected by ancestors. New investigations now suggest a completely different story.

A Buried Pyramid With Foundations Dating Back 25,000 Years

The surface of Gunung Padang is covered in deliberately placed megaliths.
The surface of Gunung Padang is covered in deliberately placed megaliths. Image: Natawidjaja et al., Archaeological Prospection, 2023

Using geophysical techniques to survey the subsurface of Gunung Padang, a team of scientists has revealed that this small hill atop an ancient volcano crater is not of natural origin. It appears to be a well-organized, multi-tiered structure that humans built over time. Through drilling, scientists obtained samples and dated the base of the structure, which was carved from volcanic rocks. The foundations of this pyramid are estimated to date back 25,000 to 14,000 years, making Gunung Padang the oldest known pyramid to date.

Possible Hidden Chambers

The upper levels were added much later, between -7,900 and -6,100 years ago. Subsequently, the pyramid was partially buried, with the last action occurring between -2,000 and -1,100 years ago.

This is a complex history that has taken scientists by surprise. While initial results have been published in the journal “Archaeological Prospection,” research is far from complete. There are indications of potential hidden chambers inside the buried pyramid, suggesting that Gunung Padang may still hold many secrets.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons