Indonesian Scientists May Have Found the World’s Oldest Pyramid-like Structure

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During the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) on December 12, 2018, scientists presented evidence of an enormous pyramid-like structure in Indonesia that may represent the remains of an ancient temple hid underground for thousands of years.

The structure is located atop Mount Padang in West Java, and is topped by an archaeological site that was discovered in the early 19th century and holds rows of ancient stone pillars. But the sloping “hill” underneath isn’t part of the natural, rocky landscape; it was crafted by human hands, scientists discovered.

The team of Indonesian scientists presented data to make their case that Mount Padang is in fact the site of the world’s oldest known pyramid-like structure.

Though the buried structure may superficially resemble a pyramid, it differs from similar pyramids built by the Mayans, says Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, lead project researcher and a senior scientist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

While Mayan pyramids tend to be symmetrical, this structure is elongated, with what appears to be a half-circle in the front.

“It’s a unique temple,” Natawidjaja said.

Using an array of techniques to peer underground—including ground-penetrating radar surveys, X-ray tomography, 2D and 3D imaging, core drilling, and excavations—the researchers gradually uncovered several layers of a sizable structure. It spread over an area of around 150,000 square metres and had been built up over millennia, with layers representing different periods.

At the very top were pillars of basalt rocks framing step terraces, with other arrangements of rock columns “forming walls, paths and spaces,” the scientists reported at AGU. They estimated this layer to be about 3,000 to 3,500 years old.

Underneath the surface, to a depth of about 3 metres, was a second layer of similar rock columns, thought to be 7,500 to 8,300 years old. And a third layer, extending 15 metres below the surface, is more than 9,000 years old; it could even date to 28,000 years ago, according to the researchers. Their surveys also detected multiple chambers underground, Natawidjaja added.

Today, local people still use the exposed site at the top of the structure as a sacred destination for prayer and meditation, and this could also be how it was used thousands of years ago, Natawidjaja said.

Source: Live Science

Photo: Getty Images

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