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27,000 years old pyramid

30 November 2023
Archaeology, Dating

This is, surprisingly, at https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03546-w … and it caused archaeologists to raise their eyebrows. You have to wonder  why in a month when it was found Homo erectus had the ability to build wooden structures and were living in a permanent settlement in the heart of Africa over 400,000 years ago. A mere 27,000 years ago is miniscule in comparison. It was not even a pyramid but a series of stone terraces – built at different times. None of which were dated 27,000 years ago. A storm in a teacup. What sparked the ire of archaeologists was that Graham Hancock was involved in the final version of the paper.

The claim, we are told, is that a mound in Indonesia represents the first ever pyramid like structure. The problem is the 27,000 years ago date. Slap bang in the middle of the Late Glacial Maximum – when a large chunk of Europe was glaciated, or tundra. It doesn’t therefore imply Indonesia was a cold place to live. On the contrary, it could well have been an excellent choice for humans. The evidence can be construed that Indonesia was not at the same latitude as it is now during the Late Glacial Maximum as Borneo was well wooded but nothing like the tropical forest zone it is nowadays. The equator may have been a bit closer to what is now Hong Kong as we know that mangrove forests existed in that location. A bit north of the Philippines might be a reasonable estimate.

The mound itself is in western Java, at Gunung Padang. It is just to the south of Borneo. It was cooler at that point in time – a temperate zone. It was also cooler in New Guinea, and Australia, but cold in New Zealand. The West Antarctic peninsular was unglaciated – warmer than it is now. Lake Titicaca in Peru was at sea level – a coastal lagoon. As I see it there is nothing to say the site was a focus of humans in Java in the Late Glacial Maximum. Or is that strictly what the Indonesian archaeologist claims?

The research was published in a journal not many people know about, Archaeological Prospectus – if anyone is interested in following the story up. Co-author of the paper, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja is actually a geologist in Bandung in Indonesia. Presumably he came up with the date of 27,000 years ago. In contrast, an Indonesia archaeologist, possibly prompted by criticism of the claim, said, in his experience,  people were still living in caves 12,000 and 6,000 years ago. There may have been a perfectly valid reason for people to find shelter in caves – especially if the  Younger Dryas boundary event had caused them to hide from what was going on in the sky. Not only that, caves sheltered humans during the Late Glacial Maximum, in Europe and Asia, and in the period between the end of the LGM and the beginning of the Younger Dryas. Living in caves is not really an unusual way of life – and was usually temporary. What occurs at Gunung Padang are stepped stone terraces – with retaining walls and connecting stairways. It might have been the base of a pyramid – but may have nothing to do with a pyramid [the most likely explanation]. They sit on top of an extinct volcano – on a patch of lava. Natawidjaja and his team investigated the site using various ground penetrating techniques, as used by archaeologists everywhere. It was a proper exploration of the mound. They delineated 4 different layers and came to the conclusion they represent 4 different phases of construction at the site. We may assume the location, on top of what had been a volcano, had a special reverence of some kind. The bottom was actually a lava core that looked as if it had been smoothed by human effort. Hence, the terraces themselves do not date to 27,000 years ago – but the smoothing of the lava core may date that long ago. It is not impossible. The layers  above the core consist of rocks arranged like bricks – built on top of the lava. C14 dating was applied and the bottom terrace was dated at roughly 16,000 years ago – after the end of the Late Glacial Maximum. Then, we have another layer they dated by the same process to around 8,000 to 7,500 years ago. Note the proximity to the 8000 years ago event, 6200-6000BC. The last layer was dated between 4000 and 3000 years ago. Once again aligned to a major upheaval. It seems the furore is solely around the lava core date – and whether or not it was smoothed by humans. The other 3 dates are perfectly credible. Now that mainstream have got in on the act, and are pressurising the journal to reassess the research, we may expect retraction – as that is how mainstream gain control of the narrative. Why not let it stand, as in future years other investigators will return to the site, to seek clarification. That is how it should work. Why destroy the career of people over the inclusion of Graham Hancock, who only seemed to do the proof reading, in order to make sure the English grammar was correct.

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