Artist's impression of Gunung Padang as it would have looked in antiquity by and courtesy of architect Pon S Purajatnika.

Artist's impression of Gunung Padang as it would have looked in antiquity by and courtesy of architect Pon S Purajatnika.

The archaeological establishment is scrambling to find some reason to reject and pour scorn on the extraordinary consequences of the excavations now taking place at Gunung Padang in Indonesia.

Since its first exploration by archaeologists in 1914 the site was thought to be a natural hill with 2500 year-old megalithic structures on top of it. But in 2010 geologist Dr Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (who earned his doctorate at Cal Tech) recognized this “hill” as a possible man-made pyramid and began to explore it using ground penetrating radar, seismic tomography, resistivity survey and other remote sensing techniques, as well as some direct excavations and deep core drilling.

The results were immediately intriguing (see this article I wrote in January for background: producing evidence of deeply buried man-made chambers and yielding carbon dates going back as far as 26,000 years. This was the last Ice Age when our ancestors are supposed (according to the orthodox archaeological model) to be have been nothing more than primitive hunter gatherers incapable of large-scale construction and engineering feats. Was it possible that geologist Natawidjaja was unearthing the proof of a lost advanced civilization of prehistoric antiquity? Such ideas are heresy to mainstream archaeologists and sure enough the archaeological establishment in Indonesia banded together against Dr Natawidjaja and his team, lobbied the political authorities, agitated locally and succeeded in slowing down, though not completely stopping, the further exploration of Gunung Padang.

Dr Natawidjaja fought back, doing some high-level lobbying of his own, taking the matter to the President of Indonesia himself. There were further delays to do with elections in Indonesia but just a couple of months ago, in mid-August 2014, the final obstacles were lifted and Dr Natawidjaja and his team moved back onto the Gunung Padang site with full approval to go ahead with their work, including permission to excavate the concealed chambers.

Archaeologists were furious and immediately began lobbying to get the work stopped – fortunately to no avail as preliminary excavations have produced results that prove beyond doubt that Gunung Padang in indeed a man-made pyramid of great antiquity as Dr Natawidjaja had long ago proposed. Even the relatively young layer so far excavated (the second artificial columnar rock-layer beneath the megalithic site visible on the surface) has yielded dates of 5200 BC (nearly 3000 years older than the orthodox dating for the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt) and there are firm indications from the original remote sensing and core drilling work of much older layers below. In short, it is now evident to all that the site is vastly older than the 2500 years that archaeologists had insisted upon for decades. Even the most hostile amongst them are therefore now reframing their assessment of the site and referring to it as “a gigantic terraced tomb, which was part of the biggest megalithic culture in the archipelago.”

For a flavor of the sour grapes the archaeological establishment feel towards Dr Natawidjaja and his team see this recent article from the Jakarta Post:

I asked Dr Natawidjaja for his response to the Jakarta Post article and he replied as follows:

“The article has got the story all wrong.  All excavations were supervised by archeologists from Agency for Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites (BPCB) and University of Indonesia.  The excavation sites have also recently been inspected by the Director for Conservation of Archeological Sites (who is the boss of Miss Desril Shanti ), by the head of the BPCB, and by the Minister of Education and Culture himself.  Afterward, they gave a press conference confirming that all excavations are good and proper.  For information, the head of the National Archeological Center, which is the main office above local Archeological Centers including Bandung Archeological Center, is also a member of the National Team for Gunung Padang. The Jakarta Post article is also wrong about the funding.  The Minister of Education and Culture did indeed announce in the press conference that he would allocate about Rp 3 billion for the research but it has not begun to be disbursed yet.  So far, I and my team are still working willingly on our own funding with the help of the soldiers (TNI) who have been working alongside us.  Of course the TNI have their own funding – but not from that Endowment Fund.”

As to the progress of the work at Gunung Padang, Dr Natawidjaja writes as follows:

“The research progress has been being great.  We have excavated three more spots right on top of the megalithic site in the past couple weeks, which give more evidence and details about the buried structures.  We have uncovered lots more stone artifacts from the excavations.  The existence of the pyramid-like structure beneath the megalithic site is now loud and clear; even for non-specialists, it is not too difficult  to understand if they come and see for themselves.    We have found some kind of open hall buried by soil 5-7 meters thick; however we have not yet got into the main chamber.  We are now drilling to the suspected location of the chamber (based on subsurface geophysic) in the middle of the megalithic site.”

Stay tuned for more news from the front line!