Located atop Mount Padang in West Java, the structure is topped by an archaeological site that holds rows of ancient stone pillars.

Long-Hidden ‘Pyramid’ Discovered in Indonesia Was Likely an Ancient Temple

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Long-Hidden ‘Pyramid’ Discovered in Indonesia Was Likely an Ancient Temple:

An enormous pyramid-like structure in Indonesia that may represents the remains of an ancient temple hid underground for thousands of years.

Scientist presented evidence of the remarkable construction Dec. 12 here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Located atop Mount Padang in West Java, the structure is topped by an archaeological sites that was found in the early 19th century and holds rows of ancient stone pillars.

But the sloping “hill” underneath is not part of the natural, rocky landscape; it was crafted by human hands, scientists discovered.

“What is previously seen as just surface building, it’s going down — and it is a huge structure,” said Andang Bachtiar, an independent geologist from Indonesia who supervised core drilling and soil analysis for the projects.

The pyramid-like structure remained hidden for so long because it has been obscured by foliage and so looks like a hill (red circle), with a megalith exposed at the top (yellow circle).

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

He and his colleagues suspected that the exposed megalith might be more than it appeared because some partly exposed feature in the existing archaeological site did not quite match the standing stones.

The “peculiar” shape of the hill also stood out from the landscape, he said.

“It is not like the surrounding topography, which is very much eroded. This looks very young. It looked artificial to us,” Natawidjaja explained.

Using an array of techniques to peer underground — including ground-penetrating radar surveys, X-ray tomography, 2D and 3D imaging, core drilling, and excavation — the researcher gradually uncovered several layers of a sizable structure.

It spread over an area of around 15 hectares (150,000 square meters) and had been built up over millennia, with layers representing different period.

Using various techniques to peer underground, the researchers found several layers of the pyramid-like structure, with each layer representing a different period of time.
Using various techniques to peer underground, the researchers found several layers of the pyramid-like structure, with each layer representing a different period of time.

At the very top were pillars of basalt rocks framing step terraces, with other arrangements of rock columns “forming walls, paths, and spaces,” the scientist 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 10 feet (3 m), was the 2nd layer of similar rock columns, thought to be 7,500 to 8,300 years old.

And a 3rd layer, extending 49 feet (15 m) below the surface, is more than 9,000 years old; it could even date to 28,000 years back, according to the researcher. Their surveys also detected multiple chambers underground, Natawidjaja added.

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

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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