Extra-Figure 2B: Scenic Overview of Gunung Padang – Aerial 3D photography.

The documents below outline the recent and unfounded retraction of the peer-reviewed paper Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia, by Danny Hilman Natawidjaja et al.

The groundbreaking paper, published in the journal Archaeological Prospection, provides strong evidence that Gunung Padang is home to the most ancient pyramidal edifice yet discovered anywhere in the world, with parts of its man-made interior structure being more than 20,000 years old. This finding shatters established historical timelines and calls for further investigation of the site. However, the possibility for further investigation, and the multiple years of dedicated study that Danny and his team have invested in uncovering the deep history of Gunung Padang, have been undermined and suppressed by conventional voices who find this discovery unacceptable.


We, the authors, express profound disappointment at the unwarranted retraction of our paper titled “Geoarchaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Pre-Historic Pyramid in West Java, Indonesia,” published in Archaeological Prospection by Wiley on October 20, 2023 (Enclosure#1).  The retraction is solely based on unfounded claims raised by third parties who hold differing opinions and disbelieve in the evidence, analysis, and conclusions (Enclosure#2). Despite our diligent efforts to address and refute the unfounded claims with robust scientific data (Enclosures#3 & #4), the Wiley team chose to align with the assertions of anonymous individuals. To our knowledge, neither the anonymous third parties nor the Wiley Team has provided conclusive evidence or offered sufficient scientific rationale to substantiate their decision to retract our paper based on an alleged major error (Enclosure#5).

Was the decision to retract our paper a severe form of censorship, blatantly disregarding the fundamental principles of scientific inquiry, transparency, and fairness in academic discourse? We urge the academic community, scientific organizations, and concerned individuals to stand with us in challenging this decision and upholding the principles of integrity, transparency, and fairness in scientific research and publishing.

As elucidated in our paper and further expounded upon in our correspondence (Enclosure#3), the soil samples extracted from the rock-construction layers, identified as Units 1, 2, and 3, have been unequivocally established as man-made constructions or archaeological features, rather than natural geological formations. These layers are accompanied by numerous small portable artifacts, providing tangible evidence of their anthropogenic origin (Enclosure#4). Moreover, our interpretation does not simply propose the existence of an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago, but rather suggests the presence of a complex structure comprising three construction-rock layers, erected in distinct phases: 1,000 – 2,000 BCE (Unit 1), 5,500 – 6,000 BCE (Unit 2), and 14,000 – 25,000 BCE (Unit 3).

If they dispute the assertion that the rock layers (Units 1, 2, 3) are man-made structures, they must provide an alternative geological explanation for their shapes, composition and arrangement. Consequently, the retraction lacks scientific validity, as it overlooks the substantial evidence presented in our paper and correspondence supporting our conclusions. Instead, it disregards this evidence without proper consideration or explanation, effectively ‘burying’ it (Enclosure#5).

In light of the aforementioned concerns, we have appended the original article, a given document of the third-party critiques, our correspondence with the Wiley team, additional data, and our response to the retraction notice below.

Sincerely,

The Authors of the Paper

(Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, Andang Bachtiar, Bagus Endar B. Nurhandoko, Ali Akbar, Pon Purajatnika, Mudrik R. Daryono, Dadan D. Wardhana, Andri S. Subandriyo, Andi Krisyunianto, Tagyuddin, Budianto Ontowiryo, and Yusuf Maulana)

ENCLOSURES:

  1. The Article “Geoarchaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Pre-Historic Pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” includes Vast Complementary Figures
  2. Document of Critiques by the Third Parties, provided by the Wiley Team on December 19, 2023
  3. Transcript of Email Correspondences between the Wiley Team and the Authors, including the Author’s rebuttal
  4. Extra figures accompany the authors’ rebuttal on February 5, 2024.
  5. Official Retraction Notice and Author’s Comments.

Can be downloaded at:

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/j453wpkzgvgbha21b8ik7/h?rlkey=1zx4r43le3kz780fw0f18v125&dl=0


1. The Article “Geoarchaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Pre-Historic Pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” includes Vast Complementary Figures

 


2. Document of Critiques by the Third Parties, provided by the Wiley Team on December 19, 2023


Post-publication expert critiques of the Archaeological Prospection article:

“Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912

Summary

What the authors interpret to be an ancient pyramid built by humans on the order of 20,000 years ago is actually the remains of a naturally occurring volcano that predates human occupation, which has an archaeological site on its surface. This false claim relies on visual observations and a series of radiocarbon dates obtained from soil samples. The visual observations are imaginative and conjectural, and the radiocarbon dates are misappropriated. The soil samples have no associated cultural materials (no archaeological artifacts of anything connecting them to humans), and so they only date the natural materials that make up the soils. In fact, these dates may not even accurately date the soils, which are notoriously difficult to date.

The following are excerpts from the unsolicited observations of four experts in archaeology, geophysics, geology, and radiocarbon dating:

  1. Expert A (7 Nov 2023):‘The article in question, “Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” by Natawidjaja et al., has raised serious concerns within the academic community. While the geophysical survey data presented may be sound, the authors’ leap to assert that Gunung Padang is a prehistoric pyramid dating back 25,000 years is both startling and unsupported by the evidence they provide. The claim relies on dating organic soils rather than any direct evidence of human construction or modification from that period.’
  2. Expert B (14 Nov 2023):‘I have recently learnt that on October 20th 2023 the journal Archaeological Prospection published an article entitled “Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” authored by Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, […] In this article incredible claims are made that do not seem to be supported by the data presented. I find this publication scientifically very concerning. I am a professionally trained geophysicist […]. I noted that the above-mentioned article makes the statement that the investigated geological structure in Indonesia is a human-made pyramid, and that the base of the “pyramid” supposedly was constructed between 25 000 and 14 000 BCE, without presenting any irrefutable evidence for these extraordinary claims. Without any critical discussion whatsoever, in section 3.1.1 it is factually described that the complex has been constructed,i.e. human made, solely based on visual observations. The figures presented do not show any evidence for the mound being anything but of natural origin. The study mentions radiocarbon dating of organic soils from layers within the “pyramid” structures, indicating multiple construction stages dating back many thousands of years BCE. However, no link between these dates and specific anthropogenicfeatures is established. Radiocarbon dating can determine the age of organic materials found within a site, but it does not directly indicate the purpose or origin of the associated structures unless there is clear evidence connecting the two. The article does not provide any definitive proof that the radiocarbon dates are directly linked to anthropogenic features. […]‘Aside of surface features of possible archaeological interest, there is no evidence of any subsurface human-made structure presented in the article. This article, presenting archaeological interpretations that are not supported by the data, is not living up to the basic scientific standards of critically questioning the hypotheses drawn.’
  3. Expert C (29 Nov 2023):‘My Ph.D. in Physics is on the subject [of studying the parameters and the conditions for radio-carbon dating with extreme precision] […]. I have recently read the article […] The radiocarbon dating section of it caught my attention, as the dates presented are too old for such a structure. I believe that the authors have collected and dated organic soil material, that has no association to any anthropogenic activities, thus obtaining random dates, which in no case may be attributed to the structure in question.’
  4. Expert D (30 Nov 2023):

‘I have read the article Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java Indonesia, which appeared in Archaeological Prospection this past October 20. I am also aware that the article’s claim of Paleolithic era pyramids has attracted attention in the public media.

Both the initial publication and media frenzy are alarming, because the claim is without foundation, having misread the geologic context and misused the radiocarbon dating method. The key problem is that the authors fail to demonstrate the existence of archaeological phenomena—beyond those found on the crest of the hill—before proceeding to date them. A key principle of archaeology is that an artifact is something that can be distinguished from natural phenomena in the context in which it is found. Thus, the first step in any investigation is to understand the natural context. This context is the basis for establishing both anthropogenic origin of observed features and the relationship of dated materials to those features. Neither has been done here. A close look at the profiles and descriptions based on cores and shallow trenches reveals this locality to be the remnant of a volcano that has undergone progressive erosion and weathering.

‘The only human modification seems to have occurred near-surface, in Stratum 2 or above.[…] The oldest dates most likely represent ancient roots that penetrated into weak planes and contributed to in situ chemical weathering as they deposited organics. This can account for the major chronological reversal between the two dates in the 20k+ range, for example. […] The authors claim to have separated “modern” organics from the presumably ancient within the soil but this activity can only remove the roots and rootlets that have not yet decomposed. Many generations of roots contribute to any buried soil or organic deposit; most of them having rotted away and become chronologically indistinguishable from one another. In the cores, the longer of which appear to have penetrated into bedrock, the probability is that dates represent mean ages for the organics that penetrated between rock layers rather than the age of the enveloping strata. The real age of those strata is probably measured in the millions of years.

‘Finally, the authors claim they calibrated the dates with Oxcal using a “robust” analysis that took into account context and processes of deposition. Near as I can tell, all they did was calibrate with Oxcal. There is no evidence of the claimed Bayesian analysis–they didn’t have enough dates to use it anyway– nor of taking context other than latitude and longitude into account. It’s a classic case of assuming all patterned natural phenomena (in this case parallel-lying columnar basalt) are anthropogenic and linking them inappropriately to radiocarbon dates that may accurately represent the age of the organic material but have nothing to do with human activity. […] In this instance, the observed rock layers surrounding the >20ka dates cannot be distinguished from the features produced by natural processes. They are not artifacts. The claim of the world’s oldest pyramid is absurd. I see rock alignments, stairways and terraces but is there a pyramid here at all, of any age?’


3. Transcript of Email Correspondences between the Wiley Team and the Authors, including the Author’s rebuttal


TRANSCRIPT E-Mail CORRESPONDENCE Between Dr. Mark H. Paalman (Senior Manager of Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution) and The Authors of the Paper “Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” recently published in Archaeological Prospection (https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912).

‌1 December, 2023 – Dr. Mark H. Paalman’s e-mail:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja and Co-authors:

I am with Wiley’s Integrity Assurance and Case Resolution (IACR) office. We are contacting you and your co-authors because of concerns that have been raised by third parties relating to data and analysis in your article entitled “Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia” (https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912) recently published in Archaeological Prospection.

The concerns raised by the third-party experts are summarized as follows:

What the authors interpret to be an ancient pyramid built by humans on the order of 20,000 years ago is actually the remains of a naturally occurring volcano that predates human occupation, which has an archaeological site on its surface. The authors’ original interpretation relies on visual observations and a series of radiocarbon dates obtained from soil samples. The visual observations are considered by experts as imaginative and conjectural, and the radiocarbon dates are considered to be misappropriated. The soil samples contain no associated cultural materials (no archaeological artifacts of anything connecting them to humans), and so they only date the natural materials that make up the soils. In fact, these dates may not even accurately date the soils, which are notoriously difficult to date. Therefore, the paper has a major error.

We are investigating these concerns in accordance with the guidelines of the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE). Based on the results of this investigation we will decide on the correct course of action.

At this stage, we request from you detailed comments on these concerns. We would be grateful for your explanation and any supporting documentation no later than Tuesday December 12, 2023. Please let me know if this deadline presents a problem.

We look forward to your reply. Please note that if we do not receive your feedback by the deadline indicated above, we might have to make a decision about this case without your input.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley


Dear Dr. Paalman,

I hope this message finds you well. Thank you for reaching out to us regarding the concerns raised about our article titled “Geo-archaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Prehistoric Pyramid” recently published in Archaeological Prospection.

We appreciate the opportunity to address the concerns that have been forwarded by third- party experts. However, after a careful review of the inquiry, we would like to seek clarification on the nature of the investigation as it pertains to the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines.

It is our understanding that the concerns raised appear to reflect a scientific discourse regarding the interpretation of our findings, rather than ethical misconduct or issues related to the publication process. The discourse seems to revolve around differences in scientific opinion and interpretations of the data presented in the study, which is a common aspect of scholarly research and scientific debate.

In light of this, we kindly inquire whether this case might be categorized as ‘Post-Publication Critiques’ or a scientific disagreement, rather than an issue of ethical misconduct in publication. This distinction is crucial in understanding the appropriate course of action required.

We are committed to academic integrity and the pursuit of scientific accuracy. We are prepared to provide necessary responses addressing the concerns raised by the third-party experts. We aim to clarify the methodologies employed, the rationale behind our interpretations, and any additional information that could assist in the clarification of our study’s findings.

We value the scientific discourse and welcome an open discussion on the interpretation of our research findings. Therefore, we look forward to providing detailed comments by the stipulated deadline of Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

We are grateful for your understanding and would appreciate any guidance or clarification regarding the nature of this investigation. Please do not hesitate to reach out should you require any further information from our end.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌5 December, 2023 – Dr. Paalman’s email,

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

Thank you for responding. I would be happy to clarify the nature of this investigation. At this stage of the investigation, I can say that there is no evidence of ethical misconduct or ethical issues related to the publication process. As noted in the statement of concern below, the paper was determined by third-party experts to have “a major error” and a summary of the scientific reasons was provided.

Please do not hesitate to reply if you need additional clarification. Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌5 December 5, 2023- Authors Response

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for confirming that the investigations do not pertain to ethical misconduct or publication issues. We appreciate the opportunity to clarify scientific points raised by the third-party experts’ concerns regarding our paper.

Our study underwent rigorous scientific review processes before acceptance. We employed an integrated approach, utilizing geological, archaeological, and geophysical methods, within a multidisciplinary team to analyze Gunung Padang’s structures thoroughly.

Through meticulous surface exposure analysis, trenching, core drilling, and geophysical surveys, we unveiled a multi-layered structure atop an ancient volcanic hill. Features such as the orientation and arrangement of columnar rocks strongly suggest deliberate human interventions in constructing these layers, distinct from natural geological formations.

While acknowledging the concerns raised, we believe they may lack a comprehensive understanding of our detailed evidence, analyses, and interpretations. Our aim is to provide a more accessible explanation for non-specialists to grasp our findings.

Our observations suggest Gunung Padang initially existed as an extinct volcano or hill formed millions of years ago by ancient lava intrusions. Human modifications are evident in the sequential layered constructions—Unit-3, Unit-2, and Unit-1—superimposed on the natural volcanic rock.

Surface observations and excavations revealed distinct characteristics of Unit-2 and Unit-3, signifying human craftsmanship and deliberate burial by ancient soil fills. Geophysical surveys and carbon dating analyses validate our findings. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR),

Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), and seismic tomography (ST) consistently delineate man-made constructions. Carbon dating aligns with observed weathering, supporting the credibility of our dating methodology.

Our study provides compelling evidence for Gunung Padang’s man-made constructions and invites further scholarly exploration. We are available to provide detailed explanations if necessary.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌6 December, 2023 – Dr.Paalman email:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

I am confirming receipt of your email, which I will forward to the Editors and investigators of the case. I’ll be in touch should more details be requested.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌6 December 6, 2023 – Authors Reply:

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for your assistance. Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌13 December, 2023 – Dr. Paalman e-mail:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

It would be helpful if you could provide the underlying data behind the radiocarbon dating work in your article. This would allow experts to more completely evaluate your work in the context of the concerns raised. Namely, from the below-highlighted statement of concern in this email thread, please address these key issues which I have summarized from the statement:

  1. The visual observations are considered by experts as imaginative and conjectural.
  2. The radiocarbon dates are considered to be misappropriated.
  3. The soil samples contain no associated cultural materials (no archaeological artifacts of anything connecting them to humans), and so they only date the natural materials that make up the soils.
  4. These dates may not even accurately date the soils, which are notoriously difficult to date.

We would like to receive your information and data on or before December 20, 2023. Please let me know if you have any questions or if this deadline proves difficult to meet. If the data files are too large for email attachments, let me know as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌14 December, 2023 – Authors response:

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for your swift response. We appreciate your diligence in seeking clarification on the concerns raised by third-party experts regarding our paper on Gunung Padang.

Addressing the key points highlighted in the statement:

  1. Visual Observations: Our visual observations were conducted meticulously by a diverse multidisciplinary team consisting of geologists, petrologists, geophysicists, archaeologists, architects, geographers, and civil engineers. These observations form the cornerstone of our study and are supported by thorough exposure analysis, trenching-wall loggings, core drilling studies, and integrated-comprehensive geophysical surveys (GPR, ERT, and ST). These aspects are extensively explained and visually depicted in our published paper.
    • Figure 2 succinctly summarizes the visual observations made on surface exposures, specifically highlighting the discernible construction layers, specifically Units 1 & 2. Notably, this figure emphasizes the remarkable characteristics of Unit 2, forming a steep terracing wall between Terrace 1 and 2 and continuing beneath Terrace 1. The deliberate arrangement of columnar rocks aligned parallel to the layering and interspersed with mortar unequivocally suggests intentional man-made construction, distinguishing it from natural columnar-joint rock formations.
    • Figure 3 Displays a cliff exhibiting the characteristics of Unit 2 overlying Unit 3, delineating their sharp boundary and horizontal layering aligned with the ground surface. Notably, Unit 3 exhibits a considerably higher degree of weathering, featuring columnar rocks with extensive exfoliations, indicative of prolonged exposure to open air before being covered by Unit 2.
    • Figure 4 summarizes trenching observation results, outlining salient characteristics indicative of man-made constructions. In-depth details for each trench are provided in Supplementary Figure B. Trenching reveals Unit 2 below the ground, with Echo-2 trench presenting Unit 3 forming an artificial steep wall exhibiting a similar columnar-rock arrangement like Unit 2 but significantly weathered displaying spheroidal weathering (Figure 4c, Sup Figs. B.3), suggesting extended exposure before being covered by ancient soil fill.
    • Figures 5 and 6 depict the outcome of core drilling studies, complemented by site- specific details available in Supplementary Figures C, highlighting the top of the massive basaltic andesite at depths of approximately 20 to 30 meters.
    • Table 3 and Figure 9 exhibit the results of the GPR survey, supplemented by comprehensive illustrations in Supplementary Figures E.
    • Figures 10 &11 summarize findings from the ERT studies, with detailed supplementary results available in Supplementary Figures E, showcasing parallel layering of Units 1 – 2 – 3 faithfully mirroring ground surfaces.
    • Figure 12 highlights the analysis from the ST, detailed in Supplementary Figures G, excellently scanning the smooth top of the massive basaltic andesite. ST, in conjunction with ERT, strongly indicates a significant void by a low-seismic-velocity zone and an extremely high-resistive anomaly.
    • Figure 13 provides a condensed integration of the comprehensive analysis, supported by additional results in Supplementary Figures H.Furthermore, to effectively address concerns about any perceived “imaginative and conjectural aspects,” we kindly request specific points highlighted by the experts. This would enable us to furnish a more detailed and comprehensive response underpinned by the substantial data and analysis available in our paper.
  2. Radiocarbon Dates: Specific reasons cited for considering the radiocarbon dates as misappropriated would assist us in responding more effectively. We stand by the methodology outlined in our paper, which includes sample selection, laboratory analysis, calibration techniques, and alignment with observed weathering, supporting the credibility of our results. The underlying data supporting the radiocarbon analysis are provided in Figures 4 and 5 (locations of sampling), Table 2 (Result of radiocarbon analysis), Figure 7 (Result of the Oxcal Analysis), and Supplementary Figures D (more illustrations, original lab results, and detailed calibration graphs using the OxCal method).Any specific points or discrepancies raised regarding the radiocarbon dates would be helpful for our detailed response.
  3. Soil Samples and Cultural Materials: As detailed in our paper, the soil samples containing organic remains were carefully selected from trenching walls and full-cored sections within specific contexts of the multi-layered constructions (Units 1, 2, and 3) and associated ancient soil fill. While these samples do not contain direct portable archaeological artifacts, they were chosen to date the materials composing these man-made layers (archaeological features) based on their stratigraphic contexts and preservation conditions. The Bayesian statistical analysis (OxCal method) presented in the paper rigorously aligns the dates with observed weathering, strengthening the credibility of our results. Furthermore, the absence of samples directly related to portable artifacts underscores the potential for future, more extensive excavations by qualified experts in archaeology, geology, and geochronology.
  4. Radiocarbon Dating Challenges: Acknowledging the challenges and complexities associated with radiocarbon dating of soil samples. Our paper has addressed these

issues, particularly concerning potential contaminations. While our current results are valid and reasonable, we suggested in the paper that future comprehensive dating efforts could enhance accuracy and further strengthen the evidence.

Should specific details or further information be required from our end to address these concerns more effectively, we are more than willing to assist. Your guidance and assistance are invaluable, and we are committed to providing the necessary information for a comprehensive evaluation.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌14 December, 2023 – Dr. Paalman reply:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

I appreciate your response. I will forward this to the editors and I will be in touch with you regarding any need for additional data as the investigation moves forward.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley


‌19 December, 2023 – Dr.Paalman email:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

I have attached the more detailed comments from four experts who contacted the editors of Archaeological Prospection with concerns about your article.

We would welcome your response to the attached critiques. Because I have sent you these so close to the holiday season, you should feel free to respond to me on or before January 8, 2024.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌26 December, 2023 – Authors Response:

Dear Dr. Paalman,

We appreciate your email and the detailed critiques provided by the experts regarding our article in Archaeological Prospection. To further address these concerns effectively, we kindly seek further clarification on the ongoing investigation:

  1. Investigation Procedure and Outcomes: As this investigation constitutes post-publication expert critiques, please clarify where we stand within the outlined procedure (https://publicationethics.org/node/50816)? Understanding the potential outcomes— whether it involves rejecting the critiques, publishing the critiques and replies in the same journal, making corrections to the published paper, or considering retractions—would help us gauge the progression and appropriately respond.
  2. Investigator Composition and Assembly: You mentioned submitting our response to the editors and investigators. Could you elaborate on whether the editors assembled these investigators or if they are independent experts designated for this investigation?
  3. Expert Identities and Expertise Disclosure: Regarding the four experts who raised concerns encompassing archaeology, geology, geophysics, and carbon dating, could you provide clarity on which expert corresponds to Expert A, B, C, and D? Understanding their backgrounds and expertise would assist us in comprehending their opinions in line with their respective fields. Additionally, could their identities be disclosed to facilitate a more informed understanding of their perspectives?
  4. Supporting Evidence in Expert Concerns: In adherence to COPE guidelines, accepted critiques should be supported by evidence or data. While we acknowledge the concerns expressed by the experts (A, B, C, D) outlined in the attachment, some of these concerns lack detailed scientific explanations related to the content of our paper. For instance, Expert A presents subjective statements without elucidating further. Expert B outlines concerns but without specific references to our paper’s content. Expert C provides statements of disagreement but lacks evidence or explanations linked to our paper’s specifics. Expert D offers some explanations yet lacks substantial evidence to support fundamental concerns, such as the existence of archaeological phenomena.

We eagerly await your response so we can proceed with our replies to the concerns raised. Your prompt assistance in this matter is deeply appreciated.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌4 January, 2024 – Dr. Paalman e-mail:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

I appreciate your patience. I was unavailable last week.

Allow me to clarify the purpose of our investigation. It began after the journal was made aware of serious scientific concerns about your article, raised by several third-parties, four of whom are highly respected with expertise in geophysics, archaeology, and radiocarbon dating. Because of the gravity of the concerns – viz., the claim that the paper contains a major scientific error – it was important for us to (a) determine the validity of the claims; (b) ensure that there are no other concerns with the article – e.g. ethical misconduct; (c) share those claims with you and your co-authors; and (d) offer you the opportunity to respond to them.

While we found no evidence of misconduct, the Co-Editors agree with the third-party criticisms: that due to a major scientific error, which was not identified in peer review, the key conclusions reported in your article are not supported by the evidence. We have shared the criticisms with you. To date, we have not received a response that would make the Co- Editors reconsider their finding.

Contrary to your below suggestion, this case does not fall under the COPE “Handling of post- publication critiques” flowchart, which is only useful if criticism of an article has been submitted for publication as a “Commentary” or “Letter to the Editor”. In cases such as this one, when third-party concerns have been raised to the journal, we investigate to determine if the concerns are valid, and if so, whether publication of some type of correction is necessary. This can include retraction of the article, if it is determined that there is a fundamental error in the article that cannot be corrected. Therefore, we have been following the COPE Retraction Guidelines (https://publicationethics.org/sites/default/files/retraction-guidelines-cope.pdf). The relevant situation that could bring about retraction is noted in the first bullet point:

“…clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of a major error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error), …”

During an investigation, we generally do not discuss possible outcomes with authors (such as retraction) until we have collected all of the information necessary to decide on the most appropriate outcome. Before we can arrive at a decision, we especially require the response of the authors to the criticisms, which must be submitted within a reasonable timeframe.

We have offered you ample time to reply to the criticisms with a substantive response. As I noted above, your responses to date have not been sufficient to overturn the findings of the Co-Editors.

Our discussion with you on this matter will conclude on January 8th, 2024, the final deadline for your opportunity to respond. If we do not receive new information that causes the Co- Editors to reconsider their findings, we will proceed to retract your article.

We look forward to hearing from you on or before January 8th. Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌6 January, 2024 – Author’s responses:

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for your recent email and the comprehensive explanation regarding the ongoing investigation into our article. We appreciate the effort to clarify the situation. From your email, it appears that the investigation was prompted by concerns raised by several third parties and subsequently agreed upon by the Co-Editors, indicating a major scientific error in our paper. This assertion is indeed alarming, particularly considering the extensive duration undergone in the peer-review process. Managed by Executive Co-Editor-in-Chief Professor G. Tsokas, the review lasted approximately nine months, from the submission on December 14, 2022, to its acceptance notification on September 15, 2023. As explained, in alignment with the COPE Retraction Guidelines, our responses by the deadline on January 8, 2024, will determine the Co-Editors’ decision—to reject concerns deemed invalid, implement necessary corrections, or proceed with retractions should there be a fundamental uncorrectable error. Could you kindly confirm if our interpretation aligns with the outlined course of action?

We sincerely regret any potential confusion or misinterpretation arising from our previous responses. Committed to addressing these concerns with the utmost comprehensiveness, we are bewildered that an investigation has been initiated without specific evidence or clear scientific rationale from the Co-Editors.

Another disconcerting aspect is the premature leak of this investigation to the public via an article in Nature by Dyani Lewis, dated November 28. This early disclosure has propelled this investigation to the forefront, leading to extensive coverage in major news media fueling negative comments from experts on our paper. Could you kindly elucidate on this matter and its alignment with COPE procedures?

To provide an effective and substantiated response, we humbly request detailed information outlining the specific concerns raised by the third-party experts or the precise findings on major scientific errors put forth by the Co-Editors. This crucial information has not been provided thus far, significantly limiting our capacity to comprehensively address the raised concerns or findings.

Nevertheless, based on our current understanding, it appears that the primary criticisms are centered around two fundamental aspects: the evidence substantiating the existence of man-made structures and the reliability of the radiocarbon dating analysis. Below, we endeavor to address the issues within the scope of the information available to us.

Regarding the Man-made Structures:

While meticulous visual observations of surficial exposures in section 3.1.1 and Figure 2 are crucial, our study employed diverse methodologies beyond surface observations. As delineated in previous responses, it involved a multidisciplinary team, detailed trenching, core drilling, and comprehensive geophysical data (GPT, ERT, ST).

The paper clearly delineates that the man-made construction layers (i.e., Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3) encapsulate the basaltic-andesite rock formation. The detailed visual observations atop the hill, highlighted in section 3.1.1, vividly illustrate two distinct phases of man-made construction layers, Unit 1 & 2, supplemented by substantial evidence (Figure 2, 3, 4, Sup. Figures B). While Unit 1 is universally acknowledged as man-made, the distinct characteristics of Unit 2 support its artificial nature. Unit 2, including its evident outer geometry, forming flat floors and a 9-meter-high wall between T-1 (Terrace 1) and T-2, alongside distinct internal structures, such as columnar-rock alignment parallel to layer, affirm human construction activities (Figure 2, Sup. Figs B1&B2). Additional observations, such as the presence of mortars or fillers between columnar rocks (Figure 2-3-4, Sup. Figs B2 & B4), flat-rock fragment emplacements (Figure 3d), aligned blocky-rock fragments (Figure 4e), and other pertinent observations, such as an artificial hole (Sup Figs B.7B-C) corroborate our interpretation.

Unit 3, brought to light through cliff exposures (Figure 3) and detailed trenching (Figure 4c, 4d, Sup. Fig. B3 & B9), showcases compelling characteristics suggesting human construction. These features notably include the presence of a similar columnar rock alignment parallel to its layering, a distinct artificial steeply dipping rock wall, evidence of prolonged aerial exposure preceding intentional burial beneath ancient soil fill, followed by Unit 2’s emplacement. The presence of nearby rounded-andesite-boulder rocks further affirms their unnatural state.

Unit 4 comprises intrusive basaltic andesite rocks predating human occupation in Gunung Padang. However, it has been enveloped by artificial rock layers (Units 3, 2, and 1). Notably, while Units 2 and 3 cover the upper part of the hill to about 30 meters below the top, Gunung Padang’s height extends to about 200 meters from its hill base, affirming that the majority of Gunung Padang comprises a natural hill.

Hence, experts contesting the notion of the layers of Units 1, 2, and Unit 3 being artificial constructions must provide compelling explanations to substantiate their reservations.

Interpreting Unit 2 and Unit 3 as naturally occurring geological formations necessitates aligning their assertions with comprehensive evidence and reasoned perspectives. We also observe Expert D’s comment (No.4), stating, “The only human modification seems to have occurred near-surface, in Stratum 2 or above,” likely referring to Unit 2 and Unit 1.

Regarding Radiocarbon Dating Analysis:

In consideration of concerns about the accuracy of radiocarbon dates from soil samples, our methodology adhered to established laboratory protocols for sample selection, analysis, and calibration. Moreover, it meticulously considered observed weathering patterns and stratigraphic contexts, detailed in Table 2, Figure 7, and Supplementary Figures D. The dating study comprehensively involved organic remains extracted from layers within Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3, encompassing both the soil foundation and the ancient soil fill, which were deduced to be associated with man-made constructions or human activities (Table 2, Figure 7a). Criticisms that overlook this foundational premise result in an inaccurate interpretation of the carbon dating analysis

Acknowledging the study’s inherent limitations—such as constraints related to sample quantities, potential uncertainties stemming from contaminants, and methodological challenges—we advocate for future extensive radiometric dating studies, as suggested in section 4.2

We genuinely hope that a more detailed disclosure of the specific concerns will facilitate our ability to offer a comprehensive and focused response. Specifically, we request that the concerns be explicitly directed toward specific segments of our paper that are deemed to contain major errors. We believe that a two-way dialogue will ensure a fair assessment.

Therefore, should further clarifications and explanations be required, we respectfully request an extension of the deadline for discussions. Constructive criticism, substantiated by clear evidence, is pivotal for scientific advancement, and we are dedicated to actively participating in this critical process.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this process. We eagerly await further information regarding the investigation’s progress.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌6 January 2024 – Dr. Paalman reply :

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

Thank you for sending additional information on the man-made structures and on the reliability of radiocarbon dating. The Co-Editors will take this information into account.

Answers to the other questions in your opening paragraphs were already spelled out within this email thread, including the attachment containing the expert comments which provide a clear scientific rationale for this investigation. We will not respond to those questions again. The investigation has been in keeping with COPE guidelines from the start.

We will follow up with you sometime after January 8, when this phase of the investigation is

complete.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌7 January, 2024 – Authors most detailed responses to the Critiques from the A-B-C-D Experts:

Dear Dr. Paalman,

We respectfully disagree that the comments from the four experts offer clear scientific rationales for initiating this investigation. Hence, we aim to address each expert comment with the specificity and scientific rigor to provide clarity on the matter at hand.

Response to Expert A (7 Nov 2023):

While acknowledging the quality of our geophysical survey data, Expert A questions its correlation to the identification of Gunung Padang as a pyramid-like structure, particularly contesting the dating of the structure. The expert raises scepticism, suggesting that the dating relies predominantly on organic soils rather than direct evidence of human constructions or modifications from that era. However, the expert’s concerns lack substantiated reasoning supported by clear and detailed arguments directly addressing the contentions presented in our paper.

Contrary to these doubts, our geophysical data extensively supports the assertion that Gunung Padang is a substantial pyramid-like structure, not merely natural hills with surficial stone terraces (Unit 1). Furthermore, our in-depth geophysical assessments, incorporating Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Electric Resistivity Tomography (ERT), and Seismic Tomography (ST), are cross-referenced with comprehensive data derived from surface exposures, trenching, and core drilling.

Our meticulous analyses on these fronts provided a wealth of evidence supporting our conclusions: the upper section of Gunung Padang Hill is capped by artificial rock layers, Units 1, 2, and 3, spanning approximately 20 to 30 meters in thickness. These artificial layers envelop Unit 4, comprising natural massive basaltic andesite rocks (Tertiary volcanic formation). Experts contesting the artificial nature of Units 1, 2, and 3 must substantiate their claims with tangible evidence and comprehensive descriptions to refute our findings.

The role of geophysical data was pivotal in exploring underground structures correlating with the geometrical layout of Units 1, 2, 3, and 4. The results vividly demonstrate that the artificial layers’ (Units 1, 2, and 3) orientations roughly parallel the ground surface. These layers exhibit horizontal orientation around the flat top ground and dip parallel to the slope beneath the hill and the high-slope terrace between Terrace 1 and Terrace 2. Additionally, the geophysical data strongly indicates that the top of Unit 4 mimics the layers above and the ground surface, signifying previous carving before envelopment by Unit 3. This is particularly highlighted in Seismic Tomography (ST) images (Figure 12, Sup. Figures G).

The 2D and 3D ERT unveiled Extremely High-Resistive Anomaly (EHRA) zones (Figures 10a, 11, Sup. Figs F2, F4, F5, F6, and F8), indicating substantial underground voids near the structure’s center, corroborated by Low-Velocity seismic Anomaly (LVA) seen in the ST image (Figure 12c, Sup. Figure G4), confirming the existence of a significant cavity. Furthermore, the ST sections revealed distinct straight vertical structures situated at the northern face of the LVA (Figure 12b, Sup. Fig. G3). This section indicates a suspected large cavity located above the massive basaltic andesite, suggesting a non-natural (lava) cavity. Thus, with its position and apparent shape, we confidently conclude that this EHRA-LVA zone represents an artificial chamber. The existence of large cavities beneath the ground was further supported by core drilling at the GP-4 site, encountering a substantial void, evident by a significant loss of drilling water (32,000 liters) (Figure 5c).

Our conclusion that Gunung Padang is a pre-historic pyramid stands on a comprehensive foundation of evidence drawn from meticulous surface examinations, trenching, core drilling, and extensive analysis of geophysical data. Consequently, the concern expressed by Expert A does not seem to align with the robust scientific evidence presented.

Regarding the dating, our carbon dating analysis is indeed based on meticulous extraction of organic soil samples sourced from layers within Units 1, 2, and 3, conclusively established as artificial construction layers, providing tangible evidence of human interventions and alterations. Additionally, the organic soil samples were sourced from ancient soil fills burying Unit 3 beneath Terrace 5 (Figure 4c and 4d, Figure 5 b-d, Sup. Figure B.3). Notably, the profile of the ancient soil fills distinctly lacks in situ weathering, which should typically exhibit gradual weathering upward from the underlying rock mass. The abrupt boundary between the soil fills and the underlying rock mass (Unit 3) serves as clear evidence of human activities in burying Unit 3 before constructing Unit 2. The carbon-date ages of the ancient soil thus represent the minimum age of Unit 3 and the maximum age of Unit 2.

The comprehensive results of our carbon dating analysis are summarized in Table 2. According to the OxCal analysis, factoring in carbon dates and stratigraphical analysis, the ages of the multi-layer constructions at Gunung Padang are depicted in Figure 7 as follows: Unit 1 dates back to 2023 – 1132 BCE, Unit 2 ranges from 6071 – 5483 BCE, Ancient Soil fills burying Unit 3 span from 7939 – 6103 BCE, and Unit 3 itself dates back to 25353 – 14162 BCE.

Hence, Expert A’s concerns regarding the reliability of our dating methods lack substantive support and fail to align with the empirical evidence presented in our thorough analysis.

Response to Expert B (7 Nov 2023):

In response to the observations made by Expert B, it is apparent that although the expert is professionally trained in geophysics, their critiques predominantly focus on our paper’s geological and archaeological aspects, echoing similarities to the points raised by Expert A. However, we seek to address these specific criticisms with added detail and precision.

Expert B contests our assertion that Gunung Padang represents a human-made pyramid, suggesting that Section 3.1.1 with Figure 2 lacks irrefutable evidence supporting anything beyond a natural origin for the mound.

Contrary to this assertion, Section 3.1.1 with Figure 2 extensively portrays the meticulous visual observations of stone-terrace structures. These observations not only unequivocally support the recognition of the widely accepted man-made ancient ‘megalithic’ site, Unit 1, but also bring to light the previously overlooked Unit 2. This finding serves as a pivotal piece of evidence in our paper, as numerous past studies conducted by Indonesian archaeologists failed to identify it as a man-made construction. The external geometry of Unit 2 corresponds to the layout of the megalithic rock terraces. It is enveloped by thin soil fills and adorned with Unit 1’s surface rock arrangements on its top and sides. Thus, categorizing Unit 2 as natural columnar-joint rocks does not dismiss the existence of human modifications, as these rocks must have undergone carving before being enveloped by soil fills and adorned with Unit 1’s rock arrangements. Cutting and shaping these ‘natural columnar-joint rocks’ might indeed entail challenges surpassing those posed by the artificial arrangement of columnar-rock blocks.

Moreover, the abrupt change in orientation of the columnar-rock alignments within Unit 2, shifting from an orientation of N70°E (Figure 2a&d) on the ramp between T1 (Terrace 1) and T2 to N55°E on T2-T3 (Figure 2h&g), further bolsters the argument for the artificial nature of Unit 2.”

Alongside the abundant evidence indicating unmistakable artificial characteristics within Unit 2 and Unit 3, our research has unveiled numerous suspected stone artifacts intricately associated with these layers. These artifacts are visually depicted in Figures 4d, Supplementary Figure B.3D1-3, Figure B.6D&E, Figure B.3.7E&F, and Supplementary Figure-I, offering further corroboration of the human involvement and cultural significance embedded within these stratigraphic units.

Expert B further criticizes our reliance on radiocarbon dating based on organic soils within Units 1, 2, and 3, echoing similar sentiments expressed by Expert A. However, it is essential to clarify that these critiques regarding the absence of specific anthropogenic features linked to carbon dates constitute a misinterpretation. The organic matter containing C-14 found within the man-made layers (Units 1, 2, and 3) likely represents remnants of bio- organic activities during or after the construction of each layer. Therefore, the carbon dates obtained from these organic soils offer approximate age ranges for these artificial layers.

In conclusion, Expert B’s ultimate critique claiming that ‘our article, presenting archaeological interpretations that are not supported by the data, is not living up to the basic scientific standards…’ lacks a substantiated scientific rationale when thoroughly examined against the breadth of evidence presented in our paper.

Response to Expert C (29 Nov 2023):

In response to the commentary provided by Expert C (29 Nov 2023), who possesses a background in physics and experience studying radiocarbon dating, we seek to address their

observations on our radiocarbon dating section and its correlation to the anthropogenic activities associated with Gunung Padang.

Expert C contends that our presented dates are excessively old for the supposed structure, implying that the organic soil materials we dated have no connection to anthropogenic activities, therefore producing random dates irrelevant to the structure under study. This assertion appears aligned with the perspectives shared by Experts A and B, suggesting that Units 1, 2, and 3 at Gunung Padang are not artificial constructions. Thus, under this premise, they dismiss the associations between our carbon dates and anthropogenic activities.

We find it perplexing that Expert C refrains from leveraging their expertise to discuss the reliability of our radiocarbon dating methodology, which inherently relies on the premise articulated in our paper—that Units 1, 2, and 3 constitute artificial layers. Instead, they critique the validity of our carbon dates, assuming Units 1, 2, and 3 as natural geological formations without substantiating their assumptions. Their lack of commentary on our carbon dating method and analysis, as elaborated in sections 2.4 and 3.4, suggests an absence of objections to these aspects.

Contrary to Expert C’s assertion that our carbon dates yield random results, our analysis of organic soils from Units 1, 2, and 3 remains remarkably consistent. Section 3.4, supported by Table 2 and Figure 7, meticulously elucidates the uniformity in age ranges derived from organic soils within the same Units. Notably, the ages obtained from the organic soils of the Ancient soil fills align with the stratigraphic context, presenting ages younger than Unit 3 but older than Unit 2, thereby substantiating our interpretations.

Expert C’s assertion that our carbon dates are excessively old for ‘such a structure’ raises additional confusion. Gunung Padang sits upon the Tertiary Volcanic Complex, signifying an age of millions of years, not thousands. If ‘such a structure’ refers to a natural geological formation, our carbon dating analysis would, in fact, yield dates that are too young, as radiocarbon dating is restricted to maximum ages of 50 – 60,000 years.

In conclusion, with the utmost respect, the critiques posited by Expert C lack a substantiated scientific rationale, particularly in light of our detailed explanations and evidence-based analysis provided in the paper.

Response to Expert D (30 Nov 2023):

Regarding the comprehensive observations made by Expert D, who is presumably well- versed in archaeology, we aim to address their critical evaluation of our paper’s geological context and the application of the radiocarbon dating method.

Expert D contends that our study misreads the geological context and misuses the radiocarbon dating methodology by failing to present evidence of archaeological phenomena beyond those situated at the hill’s crest before engaging in carbon dating analysis. They suggest that the observed rocks largely stem from volcanic remnants subjected to erosion and weathering, except for what they identify as ‘archaeological phenomena’ atop the hill (implying Unit 1 & 2?). Contrary to other experts, Expert D possibly only questions the artificial nature of Unit 3 as a rock construction.

While acknowledging that Unit 3 might not overtly exhibit characteristics akin to Unit 2, we stress that, from available data, Unit 3 does not conform to natural geological formations, as extensively explained in our paper and also described earlier.

Several authors are senior geologists, including a petrologist with expertise in natural columnar-joint rocks. Given their considerable geological experience, identifying Unit 3 as not a natural columnar formation should be evident, as elaborated in our manuscript.

Additionally, our determination of Units 2 and 3 as artificial constructions is not solely based on the appearance of ‘parallel-lying ‘columnar rocks, as suggested by Expert D. It results from a meticulous analysis of the orientation of the columnar-rock alignment relative to their bedding attitudes, various internal structures that differentiate between natural and artificial columnar-rock arrangements, and their geographical positions.

Upon close examination, we observed minimal erosive impacts on the upper section of Gunung Padang Hill, which is enveloped by artificial layers, evident from its comparatively smooth surfaces. This stark contrast is notable when juxtaposed with the extensively eroded landscapes of the surrounding hills, as illustrated in Section 3.1 (Figure 1, Sup. Fig. A).

Discussing weathering patterns, the layers comprising Units 1, 2, and 3 exhibit distinct degrees of weathering. Contrary to the expected natural weathering process that typically displays reduced weathering in deeper sections, Unit 2 displays more weathering than Unit

1. Notably, Unit 3, positioned as the deepest layer, exhibits the most pronounced weathering (Figure 3). These variations can be attributed to prolonged exposures before the subsequent younger units covered them. This compelling evidence further reinforces the artificial nature of these layers, challenging the notion of their natural origin.

We acknowledge and support Expert D’s insightful perspective regarding the role of roots in carbon dating, particularly emphasizing the potential significance of organic soils containing ancient roots that might penetrate rocks. In our view, these ancient roots could serve as valuable constraints for dating the artificial layers. Therefore, we deliberately sought evidence of ancient roots within Units 2 and 3, presuming they existed before being subsequently covered or buried.

Regrettably, our attempts to ascertain the presence of these ancient roots were inconclusive, possibly due to decomposition dispersing remnants within the soils. Our cautious approach during the organic soil sampling process aimed to mitigate the risk of modern root contamination, as discussed in our paper. This precaution was essential to prevent any skewing of carbon dates towards younger ages that might occur if modern roots were inadvertently included in the samples.

As for the OxCal analysis, the standard methodology utilized inherent Bayesian principles available in the online OxCal tool. This approach not only calibrates carbon dates individually but also considers their uncertainty and stratigraphic positions. The results of this analysis are evident in Figure 7, showcasing the value of Bayesian techniques, especially with larger datasets.

Expert D keenly observes the visible features at Gunung Padang, such as rock alignments, stairways, and terraces. While a ‘pyramid’ is not immediately apparent without specialized glasses akin to possessing X-ray vision to peer through the buried structure, this metaphorical ‘X-ray vision’ is reflected in the outcomes of our exhaustive and all- encompassing geophysical surveys detailed within our paper.

In conclusion, despite acknowledging Expert D’s valuable insights, notably regarding roots and rootlets, their assertion that our study lacks a scientific foundation seems to overlook our paper’s comprehensive evidence and detailed analyses. Therefore, their concerns ought to be reconsidered within the context of our work’s detailed information and conclusions.

CONCLUSIONS

After an exhaustive examination and thorough response to the critiques posited by Experts A, B, C, and D, meticulously aligning with the comprehensive data and analysis presented in our paper, it is resoundingly evident that their criticisms lack the fundamental support of clear scientific rationales and empirical evidence meticulously detailed within our extensive study.

Throughout our comprehensive rebuttal, we have painstakingly clarified each critique, substantiating our stance with substantial evidence and robust arguments derived from our comprehensive research. Therefore, upon revisiting their concerns in light of our detailed explanations and conclusive evidence, it becomes apparent that our study firmly stands on a bedrock of meticulous research and rigorous analysis. We extend our gratitude for your time and attention to this matter and eagerly welcome any further inquiries or discussions.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


‌8 January, 2024 – Dr. Paalman Reply:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja

Thank you for your detailed response. I will be in touch with you in due course. Sincerely,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

‌January 9, 2024 – Authors additional responses :

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for promptly acknowledging and ensuring further communication. We greatly appreciate your guidance and stewardship as the chair of Wiley’s Integrity Assurance and Case Resolution. Additionally, we hold the Co-Editors of the esteemed Journal in high regard.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Wiley, a renowned scientific publisher, and the Editorial Board of the Archaeological Prospection Journal. Their commitment to rigorous peer review and the insightful comments of the reviewers have played an instrumental role in refining our manuscript. These critiques have motivated us to significantly enhance the quality of our work.

Our manuscript presents an extensive compilation of data derived from diverse scientific methodologies, analyzed and synthesized by a multidisciplinary team. Condensing this breadth of information within the constraints of limited word counts and figures was challenging. Consequently, we have provided supplementary material to offer additional depth and context to interested scholars.

Our aim is not to undermine established beliefs but to inspire fresh perspectives and encourage collaborative exploration in the pursuit of scientific advancement. While acknowledging that our findings are not flawless, constrained by time, resources, equipment, and expertise, we have strived to present our best work.

We strongly suggest that the critiques from the third parties and our responses be published together as a Letter to the Editor or Commentary. This will foster a balanced scientific discourse, contributing to scientific progress. Considering the widespread attention this investigation has garnered worldwide through mass media, it would undoubtedly pique the interest of many.

We are committed to continually improving scientific discourse and are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this noble pursuit.

We eagerly await any further guidance or input you may have.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


31 January 2024 – Dr. Paalman’s shocking email:

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

Thank you for your patience. I am following up on our earlier correspondence regarding concerns raised about your article published in Archaeological Prospection. We very much appreciated your latest response letter and documents. The Co-Editors Eileen Ernenwein and Gregory Tsokas, myself, and others with Wiley’s Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution office have evaluated your responses to those concerns carefully. I would like to review our conclusions with you.

The peer review process for this article focused on the geophysical prospection aspect of the paper, resulting in comments and revisions that improved the article’s presentation of geophysical methods and results. After publication, experts in archaeological interpretation and radiocarbon dating contacted the journal, sharing concerns that the archaeological evidence did not support the conclusion that the site is an ancient pyramid. Several aspects of the paper have been questioned, but the main concern is that radiocarbon dates were used to date the site, yet they are not associated with anything that can be reliably interpreted as “man-made.” In light of these concerns the Co-Editors and Wiley integrity analysts revisited the article’s data, interpretations and findings. We determined that the concerns were valid and cast serious doubt on the key finding reported in the paper.

Therefore, our investigation has concluded that the site’s interpretation as an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago represents a major error.

The interpretation that many features are “man-made structures” goes against a key principle of archaeology: any feature that can be explained by the natural context cannot be reliably interpreted as anthropogenic. The features interpreted to be “man-made” are all consistent with the natural processes of volcanic rock formation and subsequent weathering, erosion, and deposition. For example, it is natural in this context to have flat layers, rocks rounded by weathering, and deposition of erosion products. These features therefore cannot be reliably interpreted as evidence of floors, walls, and shaping or carving of rocks by humans. There is not a single feature that can be reliably interpreted as anthropogenic considering the natural environment. Photos, diagrams, and descriptions provided in the paper and your subsequent emails have not presented evidence to the contrary.

Our investigation validated concerns that the dated soils cited in the paper are associated with natural features that have been falsely interpreted to be “man-made,” and do not date an archaeological site. Debating the reliability of the dates themselves will not change our conclusion. To be thorough, however, radiocarbon experts have already explained that soils are the least reliable sample type for archaeological dating because they contain decomposed roots and rootlets that cannot be removed, so the dates most likely indicate the mean ages of many generations of roots.

Regrettably, the peer review process did not catch these problems because the reviewers are experts in geophysics but not in archaeological interpretation or radiocarbon dating. If peer

reviewers with these qualifications had been available at the time, these problems would have been noticed and corrected, or the paper would have been rejected.

Given our conclusions, we have decided to retract your article because it contains a major error, in keeping with the retraction guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The proposed wording for the retraction notice is as follows:

Retraction: Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, Andang Bachtiar, Bagus Endar B. Nurhandoko, Ali Akbar, Pon Purajatnika, Mudrik R. Daryono, Dadan D. Wardhana, Andri S. Subandriyo, Andi Krisyunianto, Tagyuddin, Budianto Ontowiryo, Yusuf Maulana. Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia.

Archaeological Prospection (https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912). The above article, published online on 20 October 2023 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editors-in-Chief, Eileen Ernenwein and Gregory Tsokas, and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Following publication of this article, concerns were raised by third parties with expertise in geophysics, archaeology, and radiocarbon dating, about the conclusions drawn by the authors based on the evidence reported. The publisher and the Co-Editors-in-Chief have investigated these concerns and have concluded that the article contains a major error. This error, which was not identified during peer review, is that the radiocarbon dating was applied to soil samples that were not associated with any artifacts or features that could be reliably interpreted as anthropogenic or “man-made.” Therefore, the interpretation that the site is an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago is incorrect, and the article must be retracted.

If you have any comments on the proposed text, we look forward to hearing from you by 6th February 2024, after which point, we will proceed with publishing the retraction notice.

Sincerely,

Mark Paalman

Mark H. Paalman, PhD Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley

5 February 2024

Dear Dr. Paalman,

I hope this email finds you well. Firstly, I would like to express our gratitude for your team’s efforts to evaluate the concerns raised about our paper. Nonetheless, we are writing to express our dissatisfaction with the conclusion reached by The Co-Editors, yourself, and others within Wiley’s Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution office, regarding the proposed retraction of our paper.

First, allow us to reiterate here that the reasons for the proposed retraction do not pertain to ethical misconduct, fabrication or falsification of data, plagiarism, or unethical research practices. Rather, they stem from concerns raised by third parties who hold differing

opinions to ours regarding the interpretation of our data. Despite our extensive correspondence, your team has concluded that our paper contains “major errors,” thus aligning itself with the viewpoints of the third parties who raised this matter with you in the first place while wholly disregarding the arguments, scientific evidence, and rationales that vitiate those concerns.

The stated reason for the proposed retraction, as outlined in the drafted retraction notice, alleges that the radiocarbon dating was applied to soil samples lacking association with any artifacts or features reliably interpreted as anthropogenic or ‘man-made.’

However, we have presented scientific evidence and reasoning in previous correspondence that comprehensively refute this assertion, demonstrating its lack of validity and support in evidence or scientific rationale. It is widely adopted practise in the scientific community to employ radiocarbon dating on soil samples, especially when these samples are linked to archaeological features or man-made rock structures, such as those denoted as Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3 in the paper.

Therefore, we contend that the stated reason for retraction is invalid and cannot serve as a basis for retracting the article. In other words, we respectfully request sufficient explanations to better understand the basis of your conclusions. We request clear evidence and explanations as to why Units 1, 2, 3 are deemed to be natural rock or geological rock formations by the third parties. These explanations must address all the evidence of Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 that we have discovered. As far as our understanding goes, the third parties have expressed their opinions without substantiating proven facts.

Furthermore, you mentioned that the painstaking nine-month peer review process did not catch the alleged ‘major errors’ related to archaeological interpretation or radiocarbon dating. If that were indeed the case then this oversight reflects an editorial mistake on the part of the journal, for which the Co-Editors should bear responsibility. However, we see no evidence for any such oversight in the journal’s peer-review process. On the contrary, our responses to the concerns raised by third parties have been robust and meticulously crafted to address each point comprehensively, drawing directly from the content of our paper. We have concluded that all the concerns lack foundations in scientific evidence and rationales. To date, our rigorous explanations, specifically tailored to address each third-party critique, have not been disproved, but merely disagreed with by others who hold contrary opinions. Therefore, to the best of our knowledge, while undoubtedly serving as a stimulus for debate, our paper remains free of any major proven errors.

It’s worth noting that while the peer reviewers primarily focused on the geophysical aspects, we continuously refined all sections of our paper, including archaeological, geological, and radiocarbon-dating analyses, throughout the peer review process. In fact, the OxCal analysis we applied to the radiocarbon age data was prompted by a reviewer’s comment. This underscores our unwavering commitment to improving the scientific content and presentation of our work.

It is crucial to emphasize that the content of our paper is firmly grounded in extensive geological knowledge of the site and our expertise in the field. We assert with confidence

that every columnar-joint rock layer at Gunung Padang has undergone deliberate extraction, transportation, cutting, and arrangement by human activity, unequivocally establishing them as man-made constructions. Notably, natural columnar-joint rock formations are absent in Gunung Padang and its vicinity, spanning a radius of at least 5 kilometres. We welcome any expert who wishes to present evidence to the contrary.

The anonymous third parties whose backgrounds, qualifications, and experiences remain undisclosed, seem to lack a comprehensive understanding of the site and the multidisciplinary methods we employed, especially in geological aspects. Furthermore, a significant concern regarding this scientific discourse and your investigation is that the third parties whose concerns you support do not appear to have conducted their own on-site investigations. If it turns out to be the case that all, or even a majority, of these third parties have failed to visit Gunung Padang, or even Indonesia, then this should surely raise questions about the depth of their understanding of the context and methodologies involved.

Please take into consideration that if our paper had been rejected during the peer review process, it would have been understandable, as journal editors have the prerogative to accept or reject papers based on their judgment. However, once a paper has been accepted and published, it signifies an agreement between the publisher and the authors. Retracting the paper post-publication, with reasoning based only on the opinions of third parties, not only undermines the authors’ credibility but also tarnishes their reputations as well as the reputation of the journal itself. Retracting our paper will also have the effect of discrediting the extensive effort and dedication we have invested over the years, and could impede, rather than galvanize, future studies in the field.

The paper has been published as open access (OA), enabling global access for readers to freely read and download, including all our research data. Consequently, our data has already become public. To date, numerous mass media worldwide have utilized them.

Retracting the paper will not retract our data from the public domain, thus disadvantaging us as the owners of the data.

Furthermore, this ongoing investigation has been leaked to the mass media, resulting in the scientific community and the public demanding sufficient explanations regarding the alleged major errors and our responses. Hence, we deem the proposed text for the retraction to be woefully insufficient. Despite your team’s ex post facto judgment that our paper contains a major error, readers and the public deserve to hear our scientific explanations defending the content of our paper. Thus, if our paper is retracted, we will be left with no alternative but to make our correspondence and the detailed process of the retraction open to the public in our own manner and in a time and place of our own choosing.

To further substantiate our position, we kindly request the opportunity to respond to your team’s conclusions and the drafted retraction notice. Our additional scientific reasons center around two primary points, as previously discussed: 1. The existence of man-made structures (Units 1-2-3) at Gunung Padang, and 2. The reliability of carbon dating analysis.

We have prepared new figures to illustrate and provide evidences supporting our explanations, in addition to the content of our paper.

We adhere to a key principle of archaeology, which we believe should be in harmony with fundamental principles of geology, forming the cornerstone of our geo-archaeological method. The rock layers (Units 2 & 3) defy explanation as natural geological formations, as previously expounded upon.

Extra-Figure 1 contrasts the distinctions between natural columnar-joint rocks and the artificial columnar rocks found in Gunung Padang. In nature, columnar rocks are typically perpendicular to their flow directions, mostly aligned with the geological layer (A1). These natural formations exhibit tightly bound and interlocking columns with no matrices present between them (A2-4). Additionally, their shapes and sizes tend to be homogeneous.

However, the physical characteristics of the columnar rocks in Gunung Padang deviate from these natural features (Extra-Figure 1 B1–B10). In other word, Unit’s 1, 2, 3 do not exhibit the characteristics of a natural columnar-joint rock formation and interpreting it as such would necessitate a considerable leap of imagination. Moreover, they defy interpretation as the result of natural erosions, sedimentary depositions, or products of landslides.

Consequently, Units 1, 2, 3 are undoubtedly of anthropogenic origin or man-made structures, a conclusion supported by ample evidence derived from their detailed geometry and internal structures. Furthermore, Unit 2 plays a defining role in shaping the walls and floors between Terraces (T) 1 & 2, as well as the floors of T2 & T3—a factual observation, not open to interpretation (see Extra-Figure 1-B2, Extra Figure 2A & 2B).

Previous archaeological studies misinterpreted Unit 2 as a natural rock formation without specifying the rock type. Such an assertion would imply an extraordinary level of skill from the builders in sculpting these ‘natural rocks.’ However, such a notion defies geological plausibility.

Additionally, Extra-Figure 3A&B has been included to distinguish between the natural and artificial components of Gunung Padang Hill comprehensively. The artificial rock layers are highlighted as high-resistivity anomalies, adorning the upper portion of the natural hill (Extra-Figure 3B), while the remainder of the hill comprises natural formations.

Unit 3 exhibits significantly more weathering than Unit 2, and their interface is distinct, which contradicts the typical natural weathering pattern where rocks gradually become more weathered towards the ground surface. This reverse weathering suggests that Unit 3 had prolonged exposure over thousands of years before it was covered by Unit 2 or buried by soil fills as evidenced in Trenching Echo 2 and Delta -1, and the drill cores (GP-2, GP-4, and GP-5). The andesite boulders of Unit 3, located near the Unit 3’s columnar rocks, both buried under the same soil fills, supports the artificial nature of Unit 3. The boulders are on top of the hill, while the stream is more than 100-m lower. It follows, therefore, that these rock boulders must have been transported by human, not natural agency. Further evidence of Unit 3’s anthropogenic origin includes its flat top and smooth steep wall, as observed in Trenching Echo 2.

Alongside the compelling evidence supporting the artificial nature of Units 2 & 3 layers, we have also discovered a number of small artifacts both in Unit 2 and Unit 3. While some of these artifacts are depicted in the main and supplementary figures of our paper, we refrained from discussing them in detail as our paper primarily focuses on the geological and geophysical aspects of the site. Therefore, the exploration of the ‘artefactual aspects’ of Gunung Padang will be the focus of an upcoming paper.

The most noteworthy stone artifact is the Kujang Stone (Extra-Figure 4) (Figure 4D and Sup. Figure-1.1 in our paper). The Kujang stone exhibits unique and distinctive geometry and size with sharp edges, characteristics that cannot reasonably be interpreted as the result of geological processes. For instance, rocks transported by water tend to develop rounded edges rather than sharp ones. Moreover, the type of rock comprising the Kujang stone differs from any other rocks found in Gunung Padang. Its position atop Unit 3’s rock boulders and burial by soil fills (at Delta Trench – T-5) further affirms its human-made origin. In essence, the discovery of the Kujang stone underscores the anthropogenic aspects of Unit 3.

There is a larger ‘Kujang’ stone displaying an overall shape resembling columnar rocks but with a distinctive sharp bend and discernible tool marks (Extra-Figure 5a-d). Additionally, numerous columnar rocks bearing unusual marks/symbols are evident (Extra-Figure 6 A-B). These marks are unlikely to have resulted from escaping gases during the cooling of rocks, as they typically occur in thin, porous lava rocks rather than in fine-grained massive solid andesites (Extra-Figure 6A). There is also abundant evidence of sharp-tool marks (Extra- Figure 5 d-e-f). Furthermore, abundant columnar rocks with ‘bowl’ marks (Extra-Figure 6C)) are discovered, often found underground in Unit 2 columnar rocks filled with mortars, possibly indicating their use in locking or reinforcing the bond between columnar rocks.

Considering that Units 2 and 3 have not been falsely interpreted as man-made features, our carbon dating method and results should not be deemed problematic. While carbon dating analysis comes with uncertainties, particularly in organic soil samples, it is widely accepted in the scientific community, and we must utilize the available samples and methods.

Our paper not only aims to present the findings of our investigations but also introduces innovative and comprehensive geo-archaeological methods, a rarity particularly within Indonesia. In essence, while conventional archaeological methods focus on dating artifacts or substances directly connected to human activities, such as charcoals and bones, geo- archaeological methods extend to substances containing C-14 resulting from natural processes related to the targeted archaeological artifacts or features (see Extra-Figure 7). For instance, we can date paleosols associated with the construction of ancient structures or soils that have buried these structures, providing minimum age estimates. Additionally, it’s worth noting that archaeologists often date suitable artifacts, yet their stratigraphic positions may not align with the targeted artifacts or features.

Contrary to the perceptions of your team and the third-party critics, our carbon dating analysis targeted organic samples extracted from man-made rock constructions (Units 1, 2, and 3), including their soil foundations and fills, to date carbon remnants from decomposed ancient roots, rootlets, and other bio-organisms as depicted in Extra-Figure 8.

After the construction of Unit 3, it remained exposed to the air for thousands of years, during which ancient roots, rootlets, and other organisms inhabited the layer, leaving behind carbon remains upon death. Subsequently, it was buried and covered by Unit 2 constructions. In later periods, Unit 2 underwent similar exposure and burial processes.

Moreover, modern grass and trees predominantly penetrate the near-surface soils and seldom penetrate the Unit 2 layer. Thus, the carbon dates of organic soils from Units 1, 2, and 3 indicate a specific range of ages for each unit.

Please note that the stratigraphy around the summit of Gunung Padang Hill primarily comprises fragmented pieces of columnar and boulder basaltic-andesite rocks interspersed with matrix or soils, extending from the hilltop to depths of 20-30 meters, underground.

These fragmented-rock formations rest upon massive volcanic-basaltic rocks, all of which are tens of millions of years old. In contrast, soil samples taken from between fragmented rocks have been dated to only a few thousand to a few tens of thousands of years old, which presents an enigma in natural geological processes.

Third-party critics suggested that these ages could result from dating carbons from multiple generations of root systems and rootlets. However, as explained above, modern tree roots and rootlets primarily penetrate the uppermost soil layers and seldom extend into the Unit 2 layer, let alone penetrate Unit 3. Therefore, even if multiple generations of roots and rootlets were considered, their impact would likely be limited to Unit 2 at most.

Consequently, the presence of relatively young-age soils found at deeper depths amidst very old rocks remains inexplicable.

The geological principle dictates that soils cannot migrate from the near-surface layers to deeper depths over time. Hence, the juxtaposition of relatively young soils between ancient rock layers poses a significant geological challenge.

Based on the natural-rock arguments put forth by the third-party critics, it is suggested that the carbon dates of the layers would produce random ages. However, our study findings contradict these assertions, as outlined previously.

We’ve noticed that your investigation has concluded that interpreting the site as an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago represents a major error. We wonder if this conclusion is specific to Unit 3 (dated 14,000 – 25,000 BCE), or if it extends to Unit 2 (dated 5,500 – 6,000 BCE) as well. It’s important to note that Unit 3 is buried under soil fills dated to 6,000 – 8,000 BCE, which serves as a minimum age for Unit 3.

In conclusion, we stand by the integrity of our paper and find no major errors warranting retraction. Therefore, the concerns raised by third parties should not be grounds for retracting our paper.

Additionally, we have consulted with colleagues and mentors within our diverse fields, all of whom share our conviction that the journal and Wiley have treated our paper unfairly. Their insights have provided invaluable perspectives on the matter, further bolstering our confidence in the integrity of our work.

Based on the aforementioned points, we respectfully implore Wiley to reconsider its decision to retract our paper. We firmly stand behind the significance of our findings and believe they warrant publication.

Retracting the paper without conducting a thorough investigation, or if the reasons for retraction are not based on sufficient evidence, can lead to several consequences, including damage to the authors’ reputation, loss of trust and confidence in the journal, ethical concerns, and potential legal implications.

We propose that publishing the critiques by third-party critics along with our responses, following the established procedures of Post-Publication Critiques, would be more appropriate. This approach would provide valuable insights to many readers and foster constructive dialogue within the scientific community.

Alternatively, we are open to exploring other avenues, such as issuing a correction or publishing an erratum, to rectify any proved inaccuracies, if such proofs exist, while allowing our paper to remain in the journal.

We want to assure you that we approach this matter with the utmost professionalism and a steadfast commitment to scientific integrity. We hold the peer review process in high regard and recognize the importance of constructive dialogue in advancing scientific knowledge.

We sincerely appreciate your thoughtful consideration of our request. Should you require any additional information or clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Thank you for your attention to this matter; we eagerly await your response.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On behalf of the Authors)


6 February 2024

Email to Prof G. Tsokas (Journal Co-Editor in Chief who directly communicated with us in Peer-Review Processes)

Subject: Request for Reconsideration of Paper Retraction Decision – “Geo-archaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Prehistoric Pyramid in West Java, Indonesia”

Dear Prof. G. Tsokas,

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to you regarding our paper titled “Geo- archaeological Prospecting of Gunung Padang Buried Prehistoric Pyramid in West Java, Indonesia,” which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Prospections on September 16, 2023. Unfortunately, we have recently been informed that the Co-Editors and Wiley’s Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution office have decided to retract our paper.

Firstly, please forgive us for directly contacting you regarding this matter, as you were the Co- Editor who directly communicate with us throughout the peer review process. We were satisfied and grateful for the thorough review process, which greatly improved our manuscript. We learned a great deal from our interactions with you and the reviewers.

We are profoundly troubled by the decision to retract our paper and feel that it has been unjustly handled, as indicated in our comprehensive response to the decision (attached). The purported ‘major error’ cited for retracting the paper seems to stem solely from varying interpretations of data by third parties, lacking substantial evidence. These anonymous third parties seem to lack a thorough grasp of the site, the multidisciplinary methodologies we employed, and the meticulous datasets, particularly in geological aspects, as they have not conducted their own studies and may not have visited Gunung Padang. The evidence and arguments presented in our paper and correspondences have not been disproved but simply disregarded. We expect that the additional illustrations and scientific rationale provided in our last email, attached for your reference, can clarify any misunderstandings.

It is also crucial to reiterate that our paper has been published as Open Access, making it accessible to a wide audience. The content of our paper has been utilized by numerous mass media outlets, and retracting it will not retract the data, which are already in the public domain. Furthermore, retracting our paper will significantly impede research continuations at Gunung Padang and hinder our efforts to introduce and develop innovative and comprehensive geo-archaeological methods, particularly in Indonesia. Thus, the retraction may potentially hinder scientific progress rather than contribute to it.

We recognize the significance of upholding the integrity of academic publishing and maintaining the standards set by the Journal of Archaeological Prospections. However, we are concerned that the decision to retract our paper may have been reached without adequate consideration of the evidence and arguments presented in our paper and correspondences, potentially resulting in a retraction based on insufficient evidence. This could not only harm the reputation of the authors but also undermine the credibility of your team, erode trust and confidence in the journal, raise ethical concerns, and potentially lead to legal implications.

We strongly advocate for a more pragmatic approach where the criticisms raised by the third parties are considered as Post-Publication Critiques. This strategy would enable their critiques and our responses to be published as letters to the editors or commentary papers in the Journal. Such an approach would undoubtedly offer valuable insights to a wide range of readers and promote constructive dialogue within the scientific community.

We kindly request an opportunity to discuss this matter further with you and your team. We are confident that upon reviewing the relevant information and engaging in constructive dialogue, we can address any concerns or misunderstandings that may have led to the retraction decision.

We remain committed to the principles of academic integrity and scientific inquiry, and we are hopeful that you will reconsider your decision regarding the retraction of our paper.

Thank you for considering our request. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On Behalf of the Authors) Note: Attached are

  1. Document of Critiques by the Third Parties
  2. Dr Mark Paalman’s last email
  3. Our e-mail Reply.
  4. Attachments of Figures accompanying our email

13 February 2024 – Dr. Paalman’s email

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

Thank you for your original reply, and also for sending the video link last weekend. I understand that you are disappointed with this decision and that you disagree with the retraction.

I want to reiterate that the decision to retract this article was reached after careful investigation and deliberation. We will indicate in the published retraction notice that you disagree with the decision, on behalf of all of the authors.

Sincerely,

Mark Paalman

Mark H. Paalman, PhD

Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance and Case Resolution | Wiley Hoboken, NJ USA

14 February

Dear Dr. Paalman,

We appreciate your understanding of our disappointment regarding your team’s decision to retract our paper based on what we perceive as unsubstantiated claims of ‘major errors.’ Despite our efforts to address and refute all critiques raised by third parties, as well as your team’s conclusions, we have not been presented with clear evidence or scientific rationale to support this retraction. Consequently, we find it impossible to agree with this decision.

We believe retracting our paper not only hampers the potential for new scientific discoveries but also impedes progress in scientific advancements, particularly within our field.

However, we acknowledge and respect the authority of the Journal Co-Editors and Wiley, the publisher, in reaching this decision. We appreciate that our disagreement will be acknowledged in the published retraction notice. In light of this, we kindly urge you to include clear reasons for our disagreement, as outlined above, to ensure transparency and clarity for all stakeholders involved.

We await the official letter from Wiley regarding the retraction of our paper and the cancellation of the signed agreement to publish it.

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On Behalf of The Authors)

19 February

Dear Dr. Paalman,

We trust this email finds you well.

Allow us to emphasize that, thus far, you have solely presented us with the expressions of differing opinions from third parties regarding our paper. You, Journal Co-Editors, and other team members have sided with these third parties to retract our paper based on an alleged major error, yet no evidence has been provided to support this claim. Despite our thorough efforts to address and refute all critiques and alleged errors, none of our explanations have been disproven or adequately acknowledged. Furthermore, the specific major error cited as the reason for retraction has not been conclusively defined to us. As authors, we expect transparent communication and clarification regarding such matters.

According to COPE guidelines, “if conclusive evidence regarding the reliability of a publication cannot be obtained within a significant period of time, retraction may not be appropriate, and an Expression of Concern may be considered instead.” Given the inconclusive evidence for retraction in this case, it is essential that the concerns raised by third parties are based on factual evidence and not biased opinions. We request that the third parties who raised concerns sign forms declaring their lack of conflict of interest to ensure the validity of their claims.

It seems that the proposed retraction of our paper is simply an act of censorship, possibly driven by the discomfort our findings have caused among certain archaeologists represented by these third parties.

Therefore, we earnestly request you to reconsider the decision to retract our paper. Alternatively, we anticipate receiving an official letter from Wiley regarding the retraction of our paper and the nullification of the signed publication agreement.

Please understand that we are steadfast in pursuing justice in this matter. Following the retraction of our paper, we will openly share this case with academic and scientific communities, institutions, and the general public. Additionally, we are contemplating discussing this issue with COPE.

We appreciate your understanding and apologize for speaking candidly. Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On Behalf of The Authors)


24 February 2024

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

On behalf of the Co-Editors and Wiley, I have clearly explained to you the major error of your article. You will find this explanation in the official retraction notification letter, sent to you in the below thread and dated Wed, Jan 31, 2024 at 5:31 AM. It contains the text of the retraction statement that the journal will publish in the coming weeks.

I completely understand your disappointment. However, the retraction decision is final. I will be unable to respond to any further emails from you.

With sincere regards,

Mark H. Paalman, PhD

Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance and Case Resolution | Wiley Hoboken, NJ USA

Dear Dr. Paalman,

Thank you for your response.

We acknowledge the final decision regarding the retraction of our paper. However, we kindly request confirmation regarding the receipt of an official letter from Wiley, the publisher, outlining the retraction of our paper and providing clarifications on any implications regarding the nullification of the signed publication agreement.

Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated. Sincerely,

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (On Behalf of the Authors)


29 February 2024

Dear Dr. Natawidjaja,

I can respond to your query about the publication agreement. Wiley is acting in accord with the agreement, not nullifying it.

The standard CC-BY license template explains in section A4: “the Owner or Wiley is permitted to elect not to publish the Contribution, and/or permitted to retract, withdraw, or publish a correction or other notice for a contribution accepted for publication, if for any reason, in the Owner’s or Wiley’s reasonable judgment, such publication would be inconsistent with the Core Practices and associated guidelines set forth by the Committee on Publication Ethics (https://publicationethics.org/core-practices) or would result in legal liability, violation of Wiley’s ethical guidelines, or violation of journal ethical practices.”

If you have further questions on this topic, I refer you to the above link to the standard CC- BY license template and this additional information on CC-BY licenses.

Sincerely,

Mark Paalman

Mark H. Paalman, PhD

Senior Manager, US

Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution | Wiley Hoboken, NJ USA

 


4. Extra figures accompany the authors’ rebuttal on February 5, 2024


Extra-Figure 1: Contrasting Natural Columnar-Joint Rocks with Columnar Rocks in Gunung Padang (GP). A1–A4 depict physical characteristics of natural columnar-joint rocks, while B1– B10 showcase artificial structures of columnar rocks in GP. A1 shows columnar-joint rocks in Sumedang, located 100 km west of GP. A2 depicts rocks in Lagadar, 60 km west of GP. A3 represents the Giant’s Causeway in the UK. B1 illustrates Unit-1 columnar rocks forming the rock wall of Terrace 1 (T-1). B2 displays Unit-2’s columnar rocks forming the high wall between T-1 and T-2, with a close- up shown in B3. B4 shows the Unit 2-layer underlying T-1, buried by thin soil, and decorated by Unit 1’s columnar-rock arrangements on the ground. B5 reveals Unit-2-layer formation on the eastern hill- slope. B6 presents Unit 2 revealed in the Fanta Trench on T-2, with its plan view in B7. B8 depicts Unit-3’s columnar rocks exposed in the Echo-2 Trench on T-5, with a close-up shown in B9. B10 illustrates Unit 3’s exposures at Beta Cliff (west hill slope), displaying the rounded columnar rocks and it’s spheroidal weathering.

Extra-Figure 2A: Diagram illustrating two man-made structures, denoted as UNIT-1 and UNIT-2. UNIT- 1 (depicted in brown and green) represents the youngest structures, characterized by rock terraces situated atop the hill. Below UNIT-1 lies UNIT-2, stratigraphically positioned, and partially obscured by UNIT-1 soil (depicted in brown), with UNIT-1 columnar rocks enveloping or adorning it. UNIT-2 is prominently exposed as an altar on T-1, forming the high wall between T-1 and T-2, and comprising part of the floors of T-1 and T-2. Additionally, UNIT-2 underlies the floor of T-1, covered by a thin layer of soil (UNIT-1 soil). Trenching activities have revealed the continuous presence of the UNIT-2 layer along the east and west slopes. Notably, the orientation of the UNIT-2-layer mirrors that of the ground surface; hence, it remains horizontally aligned on terraces while dipping along the east and west slopes. Previous archaeological investigations erroneously identified UNIT-2 as a natural rock formation.

Extra-Figure 2B: Scenic Overview of Gunung Padang – Aerial 3D photography.

Extra-Figure 3A: Gunung Padang Pyramid occupies the upper section of the natural hill, rather than
its entirety.

Extra-Figure 3B: (Sup.Figure-F.5) The artificial layers (UNIT1-2-3) of the Gunung Padang Pyramid stand out as high-resistivity anomalies, embellishing the upper portion of the natural hill (Tertiary volcanic body). Extremely-high resistance anomaly (EHRA) indicates large cavity.

Extra-Figure 4:(A) The Kujang Stone artifact, discovered in the Delta trench, positioned on top of Unit 3 and buried beneath ancient soil, dated 8,000 to 6,000 BCE. (B) Analysis of the Kujang Stone in the Physics Lab: (a) Measurement of volume, pores, and density is 3.4 grams/cm3. Significantly heavier than the density of andesite, which typically ranges from 2.4 to 2.8 grams/cm3. (b) CT-scan for tomography scanning, (c) Illustration of a tomography slice revealing a ‘twisted’ triangular shape, (d) Tomography slice of the artifact’s neck, (e) Tomography scanning process, (f) Microscopic view exhibiting abundant granular metals.

Extra-Figure 5: (Sup.Figure I.2) Artifacts displaying sharp-tool incisions/nicks. (a)-(d) A large stone artifact in the shape of a Kujang, discovered on the surface of the east slope. (e)-(f) Other stone artifacts exhibiting incisions made by sharp tools.

Extra-Figure 6: (A) Comparison highlighting the distinction between ‘carving’ marks and holes observed on columnar rocks at Gunung Padang, contrasting them with natural holes and vesicles typically found in lava formations due to escaping gases. (B) Additional instances of carving marks at Gunung Padang. (C) Numerous bowl-shaped structures observed on columnar rocks, some of which are buried underground.

Extra-Figure 7: Diagram showing the principle of radiocarbon dating in geo-archaeology. The archaeological features can be dated from associated artifacts or organic sediments/soils found within the same stratigraphy level.

Extra-Figure 8 (A): The samples subjected to radiocarbon dating analysis consist of organic soils extracted from various parts of the rock constructions, including the matrix of Unit 3, soil fills covering Unit 3, gravelly-soil foundations of Unit 2, matrices of Unit 2, soil foundation of Unit 1, and Unit 1.

Extra-Figure 8 (B): Stratigraphy and the resulting ages provide an approximate range for the age of the man-made constructions in Unit 3, Unit 2, and Unit 1. The black dots indicate the locations from which soil samples were collected.

 


5. Official Retraction Notice and Author’s Comments


RETRACTION NOTICE

Retraction: Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, Andang Bachtiar, Bagus Endar B. Nurhandoko, Ali Akbar, Pon Purajatnika, Mudrik R. Daryono, Dadan D. Wardhana, Andri S. Subandriyo, Andi Krisyunianto, Tagyuddin, Budianto Ontowiryo, Yusuf Maulana. Geo-archaeological prospecting of Gunung Padang buried prehistoric pyramid in West Java, Indonesia. Archaeological Prospection (htps://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912).

The above article, published online on 20 October 2023 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editors-in-Chief, Eileen Ernenwein and Gregory Tsokas, and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Following publication of this article, concerns were raised by third parties with expertise in geophysics, archaeology, and radiocarbon dating about the conclusions drawn by the authors based on the evidence reported. The publisher and the Co-Editors-in-Chief have investigated these concerns and have concluded that the article contains a major error. This error, which was not identified during peer review, is that the radiocarbon dating was applied to soil samples that were not associated with any artifacts or features that could be reliably interpreted as anthropogenic or “man-made.” Therefore, the interpretation that the site is an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago is incorrect, and the article must be retracted. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja responded on behalf of the authors, all of whom disagree with the retraction.

AUTHOR’s comment:

As elucidated in our paper and further expounded upon in our correspondence (Enclosure#3), the rock-construction layers, identified as Units 1, 2, and 3, from which the soil samples were extracted, have been unequivocally established as man-made constructions or archaeological features, rather than natural geological formations. These layers are accompanied by numerous small portable artifacts, providing tangible evidence of their anthropogenic origin. Moreover, our interpretation does not simply propose the existence of an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago, but rather suggests the presence of a complex structure comprising three construction-rock layers, erected in distinct phases: 1,000 – 2,000 BCE (Unit 1), 5,500 – 6,000 BCE (Unit 2), and 14,000 – 25,000 BCE (Unit 3).

To our knowledge, neither the anonymous third parties nor the Wiley Team has provided any evidence or offered sufficient scientific rationale to substantiate the alleged major error. For instance, if they dispute the assertion that the rock layers (Unit 1, 2, 3) are man-made structures, then they must provide an alternative geological explanation for their composition and arrangement. Furthermore, the presence of numerous stone artifacts in Units 1, 2, and 3, as evidenced by additional figures provided to them (Enclosure#4), further supports our contention. Therefore, the retraction lacks scientific validity, as it fails to address the substantial evidence presented in our paper and the correspondence that underpins our conclusions. Instead, it disregards this evidence without proper consideration or explanation, effectively “burying” it.

Prof. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, M. Sc, Ph. D.

Professor of Geology (Active faults, paleoseismology, seismic hazards, and geo-archaeology)

Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a Distinguished Research Professor in Geology at Indonesia's National Research & Innovation Agency (BRIN) and a member of the esteemed Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI), boasts a rich academic background with degrees from Institut Teknologi Bandung (B.Sc), the University of Auckland M.Sc), and Ph.D from California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Recognized for his exceptional contributions to science and his dedication to disseminating knowledge, Danny has garnered numerous awards, including the prestigious Sarwono Prawirohardjo Award in 2005, the Indonesian Association of Geologists - IAGI Award in 2015, and The Ahmad Bakrie Award for Science in 2016.

For decades, Danny's primary research focus has been on earthquake geology, seismic hazard assessment, and natural disaster mitigation. Since the early 1990s, he has been a leading figure in active fault and neotectonics studies in Indonesia, spearheading initiatives such as the Sumatran GPS Array (SUGAR) in 2002, aimed at understanding crustal movements in Sumatra. Collaborating with institutions like Caltech and the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), NTU, he has significantly advanced seismic understanding both nationally and internationally. Danny has also played pivotal roles in shaping national policies on hazard mitigation, chairing committees responsible for formulating guidelines and participating in various national programs. Internationally, he represents Indonesia in the International Platform for Reducing Earthquake Disaster (IPRED).

Moreover, over the past decade, Danny has been a trailblazer in the field of geo-archaeology in Indonesia. Leveraging diverse geological and geophysical methodologies, he has explored numerous ancient human-made structures across the country. Notably, he served as vice-chairman of the Gunung Padang research committee, making significant contributions to the investigation of this archaeological site, recognized by both the Ministry of Education and Cultures and the West Java governor. His pioneering work in geo-archaeology adds another dimension to his multifaceted contributions to science and knowledge dissemination.

31 thoughts on “The Unjust Retraction of Groundbreaking Research: A Call for Academic Integrity”

  1. Martin and Genn Rollins says:

    These anonymous experts are hiding behind their anonymity to squelch genuine scientific research. Are they afraid of being proved wrong? It sure is no way to scientifically dispute what the authors have uncovered.

  2. Steven Kayser says:

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.

    It’s a long battle, but worth it. Keep soldiering on.

    Best wishes,
    Steven Kayser

  3. Kazem Shah says:

    Thank you for this extremely comprehensive explanation and for being so transparent, Dr. Natawidjaja. The email chain very clearly shows that Wiley and the 3rd-Party “experts” did not, in fact, provide counter evidence or any proof to refute your findings, instead just repeating the phrase “major errors” and “disagree with findings”, which basically boils down to mean they simply didn’t like what you found. I hope this email chain has been shared with mainstream media.

    Rest assured your name (along with the other authors’) will go down in history with Jacques Cinq-Mars and others who were scoffed at and rebuffed, only to be ultimately proven right.

    Please keep up the good work at Gunung Padang.

  4. Rendy says:

    This is a cautionary tale (and hilarious case study) of the dangers of infecting science with nationalism. Natawidjaja and his team desperately wanted to believe that Indonesia was once ‘Atlantis’ (false), and an advanced ‘great’ civilization (whatever that means).

    Unfortunately, this type of ideological thinking is common among so-called researchers like Natawidjaja, who prioritise the need for their nation to be SEEN as great, rather than actually BEING great (through exemplary science).

    Embarrassing.

    1. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja says:

      Rendy, your accusation is baseless. Our paper has nothing to do with nationalism and Atlantis. Have you read the paper?

      1. Tristan Childress says:

        Agreed Danny. Rendy’s comment is ad hominem and should be disregarded.

    2. Reggie says:

      Actually, what you say is nonsense, Rendy. You are projecting your own lack of awareness onto him. Danny has simply investigated this structure with quite thorough science – if you bothered to read any of it, which I am sure you have not. Someone who may be called falsely nationalistic would be Zawi Hawass in Egypt, who seems oblivious to the fact the ancient Egyptians themselves disagree with him about their origins, yet somehow wants to present himself to the world as pro-modern-Egypt, when he is literally ignoring indigenous lore from Egypt. But Danny doesn’t do that.

      Provide a single refutation of a single point he has made, using science that can be verified and peer-reviewed. And provide a single statement by Danny that supports your idiotic remark. Or shut up.

      Lazily pretending he is being nationalistic when by his own admission the modern geopolitical entity known as Indonesia was not in existence when this structure was constructed (20,000+ years ago) – indeed the entire land shelf those modern islands are now on was most probably still dry land and attached to larger continents as Sundaland or Sahul and therefore home to vast civilizations that now lie beneath the ocean – is empty insult, nothing more. This is not nationalism or fantasy, it is geological reality that most of Indonesia was in fact a massive continent that could easily have supported vast cultures in millions of miles of land that is now a hundred meters below the sea due to the ocean rise 11,500 years ago.

      The Gunang Padang structure is not natural, GPR shows clear artifice inside its various layers.

    3. Phillip Valencia says:

      So which third party critic were you? A,B,C or,D
      You just added insult to injury. Talk about embarrassing!

  5. J.M says:

    History will prove you right, Dr Natawidjaja. Of this, I am certain. Energy can not be destroyed, only redirected, and as such, the battle is far from lost.

    Thank you for the love and attention you have given your work. It is truly nothing short of inspiring. There are a great many people who look forward to your continued contributions in the field. Those of us who value truth and the spirit of exploration know that the world would be lost without the bravery, passion, and determination of individuals like yourself.

    1. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja says:

      Thank you for the encouragement J.M.

  6. Brendan Lawson says:

    Thank you for providing such a detailed insight into this process, it’s really interesting to get a peek into what goes on with scientific publications. However, I’m disappointed in the outcome and the substitution of contradictory evidence with opinions in regards to this paper. I’m an aspiring scientist and this attitude towards such thorough and interesting research is concerning.

  7. Randall Burchell says:

    I’m not an archaeologist, but I don’t need to be one to see the twin levers of ego and money behind these machinations. Too many careers and reputations are in the way of true progress in understanding the real history of our world.

  8. diva mihelic says:

    Thank you!

  9. Reggie says:

    In the absence of any science to meet, let alone challenge, that presented in your work, Wiley seem to be operating with the delusion that retracting a paper makes it, or the facts it describes, vanish.

    A retraction with no refutation is meaningless in itself, and possibly a sign of dementia or other weakness of the brain. Or, there’s money in it for someone, somehow.

    A full investigation of the editors is in order. They have a responsibility to the profession and a duty to mankind. They must explain themselves, or by this empty insult they are rendered irrelevant to the field, a joke.

  10. Tristan Childress says:

    The journal’s decision is absolutely baffling. The authors have very clearly laid out their methods and evidence that supports their conclusion. As the authors suggested multiple times this should, at the very most, be allowed to remain published but with letters to the editor or rebuttal papers. I have read dozens (hundreds?) of geological papers that hold opposing conclusions that have been allowed to remain published without issue, despite the ire of competing scientists. What has happened in this case can only be described as academic censorship. This should infuriate all serious scientists.

    1. David Jordan says:

      You are highly qualified, professional geologist, Tristan. You are entirely capable of understanding why key elements of the paper were invalid. The radiocarbon dating (the given reason for the retraction) simply never established the origin of the carbon being evaluated. The authors further comments don’t clarify this key point. That alone is sufficient, but you are also capable of understanding why the interpretation of the ERT data, and much of the geology, goes too far. As a fellow Earth Scientist (an FGS with a PhD in Geophysics and decades of commercial field experience) who has also read many hundreds of opposing papers I think you need to look a little more closely at what, exactly, is being opposed here.

      1. Tristan Childress says:

        I see an opposition to the term “pyramid-like” and opposition to the idea that units 3 and 2 are manual constructions. I tend to agree that the presence of weathered and rounded boulders perched atop a hill were most like places there by human hands, unless a river flowed uphill and deposited them there 20,000 years ago.

        I see nothing in the paper that couldn’t easily be fixed and allowed to stay, or addressed with a rebuttal. The only issues I can see is a slightly charged conclusion which, again, could be fixed. I see no issue with the science, the dates, or the general story being told here.

        1. David Jordan says:

          I would be surprised if your clients were to be so flexible in their approach to your, no doubt excellent, geological investigations. I mean that sincerely – I can see that you are a thoroughly expert geologist with abundant experience. That’s one of the reasons why your leniency towards this publication, which I’m sure you wouldn’t apply to commercial geological studies, is surprising.

          As I’m sure you know well rounding of basic igneous rocks in tropical climates can occur through weathering alone. No river is required. I’m not saying, since I can’t know, whether that’s the case here but it is certainly common. Nonetheless, much of the uppermost deposits is indeed archaeological and rocks may well have been both worked in situ and carried some distance to the site.

          On the other hand the authors make much of the archaeological nature and origins of units 2 and 3 for which there is no reason to suspect anything other than a natural origin. The radiocarbon dates likewise, are on material the origins of which are unknown and thus have no value without further analysis of the nature of the organic matter being dated and its context. Such dates would never normally be used in this way. I ran the radiocarbon dating service for England for some years so I have some experience to offer here.

          This isn’t a matter of making small adjustments. The authors’ specific claims abut the lower layers and the dates are central to the publication. There is most definitely a very interesting publication to be written about this site. I very much hope the authors write it. But it isn’t this one.

          1. Tristan Childress says:

            David – I am truly uninterested in your tongue-in-cheek comments on my professional experience as a geologist, and your continued commentary is a sign of something other than genuine discussion. I am capable of entertaining multiple hypotheses at the same time without forcibly committing to my own personal biases. So please, discontinue.

            The main issue here is the *retraction* of the article, which is simply not needed – the most that is needed is a softening of their conclusions. Unit 3, in Extra-Figure 1 B8, B9, and B10 very clearly show well-sorted rounded boulders that appear to be “floating” in a relatively fine-grained matrix that are, apparently, all oriented in the same nature. Forgive me if I don’t immediately conclude this is simply the product of extreme in-situ exfoliation, weathering, and soil-i-fication given the context of the overlying archaeological site.

            The authors clearly state “At the base of Unit 2, there is a relatively thick layer of soil, occasionally containing loose gravelly sands.” So, unless they are wrong or are lying about this layer, the implication here is that Unit 3 basalt was deposited, naturally or manually, then covered by a layer of soil and gravel, and then Unit 2 basalt was deposited, naturally or manually. From your argument, you seem to imply there have been multiple pulses of natural basalt deposited here, or perhaps the Unit 2 basalt column all rolled down from the mountain and maintained a uniform orientation.

            Absent some reasonable geologic explanation, this discrete soil and gravel layer that separates Units 2 and 3, in my opinion, demonstrates the Unit 2 is unequivocally the product of human activity.

            If you believe carbon dates were used incorrectly, that sounds like a great opportunity for you to write a letter to the editor explaining exactly what steps the authors should take to better contextualize these dates.

        2. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja says:

          Thank you for positive and constructive review Tristan.

          1. Tristran Childress says:

            You are welcome Danny. I hope you and your team continue your work and continue your in-depth investigation. Even *if* Unit 3 turns out to be natural, it seems highly likely Unit 2 is man-made, and that alone is a significant discovery.

        3. David Jordan says:

          Tristan, You misunderstood the tone of my comments. Nothing was intended to be tongue in cheek. I was being genuine and respectful. I hope you can take that at face value.

          Whether or not retraction was the right step we can agree that there is potential for further, interesting work.

          I have little experience of andosol soils in tropical environments but I do have experience of excavating in such soils in temperate regions and find the deposits you consider are unequivocally the product of human activity may indeed have natural origins. One step the authors could take is examine the deposits of similar hilltops of similar natural geology nearby to see if the deposits they have identified as anthropogenic might have other natural origins and the hilltops have comparable geophysical characteristics.

          That would be interesting for geologists, soil scientists as well, potentially, for archaeologists. A good solution all round perhaps?

          1. Tristan Childress says:

            No problem David, it is difficult to gauge intonation through text alone. Apologies for my defensive nature, there are many trolls on the internet.

            I agree with your comment and additional contextualization would be enlightening. I think the nature of Unit 2 only needs a bit more careful language to demonstrate its plausibility as manually emplaced (though, in my mind, the presence of the “Kujang stone” and quartz is a major indicator, as well as the abrupt change in column orientations from Unit 3 to Unit 2). The nature of Unit 3 could be further elucidated via a statistical study of the orientations of the basalt columns, the nature of the matrix, and the nature of the round boulders.

            The metalliferous “Kujang stone” is remarkable, as it seems entirely unrelated to the basalt stones, and must have been placed on the surface of Unit 3. The mineralogy of this stone should, in and of itself, demonstrate it is not locally derived. If the rock type and its origin could be identified, that would provide not only another indicator that people were active at the site post-Unit 3 emplacement, but may provide other information regarding where else they were active.

            Would love to visit the site and do some field mapping. And it’s only a short 30 hour travel time from West Virginia!

            Cheers

      2. Danny Hilman Natawidjaja says:

        David, we have given further explanation on carbon dating analysis on Extra Figures in Enclosure#4. But alleged major error isn’t about the carbon dating itself but on the interpretation of Unit2 and Unit3 as man-made constructions, which we think have been thoroughly concluded. If they interpret Units 2&3 as natural geological rocks than they should elaborate it, such as: what kind of rocks, how they formed, and explain all their facts as described in the paper. Thus, it requires writing a contra article. As for simple observations, please note that Unit2 formed the high wall between T1 & T2, and also formed the floors of T2 and T3

        1. David Jordan says:

          Danny, contrary to this the very reason give for the retraction of the paper by the journal editors is the radiocarbon dating. there are indeed other concerns but this is central.

          As I understand it the organic material you dated is soil-derived and there is no specific identification of the organic fractions and their origins. No cellular matter which could be shown to be of a specific origin, for example, was identified except for the modern root material which was removed.

          Thus there would be no way to tell whether the radiocarbon assay was carried out on organic matter of a single origin or of many origins and many possible ages all mixed together, as is common – indeed almost universal – in soil-derived carbon compounds.

          Perhaps you might consider dating a number of fractions to see if they date differently? That might give you a clearer idea as to whether this organic matter is of a range of dates or of a narrow range pertaining to a specific cultural period.

          Kind regards,

          David

  11. Martin Palmer says:

    Be remembered by exploration and discovery not prevention.

  12. John N. says:

    There seems to be a common playbook now for this, the sequence of events is almost exactly identical to what happened to Peter McCullough and his team in the health journal Cureus recently: https://petermcculloughmd.substack.com/p/breaking-springer-nature-cureus-journal. They’re filing an ethics complaint, perhaps that might be warranted here as well?

  13. Ron says:

    Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this whiffs of a Club’s hand.

    Danny’s work was basis for the first episode of Ancient Apocalypse. Clearly he is being punished by someone for not shooing Graham away.

    And now we’re even more curious than ever about Gunang Padang, and would like to see Danny lead a full excavation team, as Schmidt did at Gobekli Tepe. It would be amazing to find what is in the central cavity, assuming all that water they pumped in didn’t ruin it. To think of a structure from twenty millennia ago and what it may hold, what we will surely learn. . .

  14. John Cos says:

    That’s stone work , I am a master mason by trade, 6 th gen in my family, those stairs especially speak to constant riser and tread dimensions. When people walk up or down stairs they set their gait by the first couple of steps and carry on automatically. Good City inspectors in Canada’s big cities use that as their first inspection, if it feels off they get out the measuring tape. The random rubble walls ( the term for those walls) look selected as well. Good stone work are puzzles with no picture, selecting stones without dressing them , or very little dressing, is the key. Trade school I would ask 3 rd year apprentices “who liked doing puzzles ? those that raised their hands were always good stone masons, most who did not never mastered stone work at all, but were v good bricklayers, it was a training school for masons btw. Anyway, great work Danny, great article in your favor. The anonymous experts remind me of Convid experts, useless. Masonry is what the ancients left us to remember them with, this is rough work but still done by humans, not nature. Were there any tailing piles from working stone at all? And Rendy your are a moron, it’s true.

  15. Philip Dawes says:

    Glancing through the email transcript exchange between the Authors of the Paper and Dr. Mark H. Paalman, (Senior Manager of Integrity Assurance & Case Resolution), it appears that the paper was submitted to Archaeological Prospection without sufficient or proper corroborating scientific data to backup their findings. What is perplexing with Dr. Natawidjaja’s email reply is the immediate affront taken concerning his integrity. Perhaps, his first line of enquiry ought to have been to seek the names of the claimed third party experts? And perhaps, as a scientific paper for consideration by the scientific community, it may have been unwise to have made bold statements about the claimed original structure ‘was a pyramid’ and its claimed age of ‘more than 20,000 years old’ and ‘the oldest in the world.’ Such bold claims no doubt set wrinkles in the stiff collars of fellow scientists!
    That said, as a non-scientist, I personally believe and accept that our present civilisation is not the first to have evolved to a highly advanced level on this planet. Artefacts of advanced design and construction have occasionally been found in deep coal and other mines. But the corrupt status quo remains in constant denial of such finds.

  16. Robert Blain says:

    I own almost every book you’ve written, and have read most of these, although you seem to write almost as fast as I can read them. Have also watched everything you have presented on Netflix and YouTube. I am just reading Gavin Menzies book 1421 hoping that you have also and am curious regarding this influence on the piris Reis map and your opinions on facts and theories presented. Love everything you do keep it up, amazing stuff, I never did believe most of what we were taught in school in this regard. Love you brother keep it coming.

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