Scientists Discovered Pre-Historic Structure On Mountain–Impossible For Humans to Build

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Jun 30, 2024

Hidden underneath a mountain in Indonesia lies an ancient pyramid known as Gunung Padang, or the “Mountain of Light.” While this might be the oldest pyramid in the world, there is something more shocking about this structure.

Similar to the amazing architecture of the Giza Pyramids, a new study suggests that this pyramid was impossible for humans to have built.

The Age of the Ancient Pyramid 

Researchers have long considered Gunung Padang ancient, but they never knew its exact age. After taking a closer look at the pyramid and studying its layers underneath the mountain, researchers are now confident they have discovered its age.

Two researchers are pictured speaking about a recent discovery

Source: Freepik

Researchers believe that the pyramid’s construction may have started as long as 27,000 years ago—around 22,000 years before the Egyptian pyramids.

Changing the Understanding of Humanity

If the researchers have correctly identified the structure as being 27,000 years old, then this would be evidence that an advanced ancient civilization existed in the area.

The Gunung Padang site is a prehistoric site of Megalithic cultural heritage in West Java.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Discovering this ancient civilization would change how archaeologists view other ancient civilizations and the history of humanity.

Gunung Padang Was Largely Ignored 

Located in the West Java Province of Indonesia, Gunung Padang doesn’t resemble a pyramid at first glance. Instead, it looks like a large hill covered in broken columns of ancient volcanic rock.

Gunung Padang ("Mount Padang", but not high enough as a mount, only a hill) is a large megalithic site in Regency of Cianjur area. This site was mentioned on a report by Dutch first, then was re-opened in 1979.

Source: Ikhlasul Amal/Flickr

For many years, archaeologists believed that the site was a prehistoric graveyard where all the tombstones had been knocked down over hundreds of years.

The Discovery of Something More

In 1914, Dutch colonizers came across the site and identified it as an ancient megalithic site. They discovered that the remaining stones had been purposefully placed by prehistoric peoples.

This picture is taken in Gunung Padang Megalithic Site, Cianjur, West Java

Source: Gilangsmntr/Wikimedia Commons

One Dutch historian offered an evocative description of the site, describing Gunung Padang as “a succession of four terraces, connected by steps of rough stone, paved with rough flat stones and decorated with numerous sharp and columnar upright andesite stones. On each terrace, a small mound, probably a grave, covered with stones and topped with 2 pointed stones,” (via Discover).

Taking a Closer Look

In 2010, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, decided to take a closer look at the monument, despite limited interest in the site throughout the 20th century.


Source: Arsip Danny Hilman

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


Did Humans Make the Pyramid? 

Between 2011 and 2015, Natawidjaja and his team of archaeologists, geologists, and geophysicists conducted studies on Gunung Padang to determine if humans had built the site.

A researcher is pictured at his desk working on an idea

Source: Wikimedia

Some argued that Gunung Padang was simply a natural hill upon which ancient structures were built, casting doubt on its human origins.


Establishing Gunung Padang’s Age

After using techniques like core drilling, ground penetrating radars, and subsurface imaging, Natawidjaja and his team reported their findings in the journal Archaeological Prospection.

A close up of stones on a mountain at Gunung Padang

Source: Devitapra/Wikimedia Commons

The published paper suggests that humans built Gunung Padang nearly 27,000 years ago, making it the oldest pyramid in the world.


How Gunung Padang Was Built

The researchers proposed that they built the pyramid in stages, beginning with the first stage during the last glacial period between 16,000 and 27,000 years ago.

A photograph of a large glacier in the ocean

Source: Wikimedia

It appears that the ancient civilization then built upon the first layer of the pyramid by carving shapes into sculpted lava on top of an extinct volcano.


One Layer At a Time

After the site was abandoned, significant weathering occurred over thousands of years, as noted by the researchers. It is unclear why the civilization abandoned the pyramid at that time.

Taken from Gunung Padang Megalith Site, Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia

Source: Mohammad Fadli/Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, two more groups would come over the years to build upon the first few layers of the pyramids, creating the remains of the pyramids we see today.


The Last Group to Build on the Pyramid

Between 7900 and 6100 BCE, another ancient civilization returned to Gunung Padang to continue building upon the pyramid. This second group did not carve layers into the pyramid from existing materials in the mountainside. Instead, they added layers of bricks and rock columns.

Gunung Padang, one of largest megalithic site in South East Asia.

Source: ZUKI12/Flickr

The final group arrived between 2000 and 1100 BCE to construct the top layer, incorporating topsoil, stone terracing, and other elements.


Uncovering the Civilization That Started It All 

If Natawidjaja’s study is correct—which future studies with more advanced technology would need to test—the Gunung Padang pyramids date back tens of thousands of years.

A faceless scientist wearing white gloves types on a laptop next to a microscope

Source: Freepik

This significant piece of architecture proves that ancient civilizations were much more advanced than archaeologists once thought. Tools, construction materials, and more demonstrate that our forgotten ancestors were much more advanced than we give them credit for.