Gunung Padang Megalithic Site

Gunung Padang surface, viewed from watching deck located on the left side of the site.

Gunung Padang is a giant pyramidal megalithic site lies on a hilltop, buried in a hill with elevation about 885m above sea level. It is located in Karyamukti village, District Campaka, Cianjur regency. The site location is about 30 km from Cianjur city and about 140 km from Jakarta city. If you want to visit this site using private car from Jakarta, Bogor, or Bandung city, you can ask us. Just send us a WhatsApp message to this number: +6285226126069.

Gunung Padang is a type of megalithic site because constructed by many large stones. The word megalith come from two ancient Greek words: “Megas” means Great, and ‘Litos” means Stone.

The site is surrounded by lush mountainous regions. From the top surface, to the North direction, you can see mount Gede-Pangrango on a clear weather. The view is adorable. Sometime, visitors are more impressed with the beautiful view than the mystery of the site.

The accessing road is village road. It is already widened, but narrow and winding on some parts. A big bus cannot pass the road. The biggest vehicle that is able to pass the road is mini or medium sized bus with about 20 seats.

The surrounding views, on the way to the site from the district mainroad is beautiful. There are villages, farms, rice fields, hills, and tea plantation. The tea plantation name is Gunung Manik. It produces tea leaves for a famous ready-to-drink tea product in Indonesia, Teh Botol Sosro.

Gunung Padang, A Shocking Discovery

There are many prehistoric megalithic site in Indonesia. But the discovery of Gunung Padang made geologist and scientist around the world open their eyes. The discoveries shocked the world of sciences, archaeology, and anthropology because it could change our common knowledge about history. It is like a big elephant entering a crowded anthropology classroom. Two things that shocked the world is about the age and the size of the site.

The Age

The site has four layers. Each layer has each age. According to the radiocarbon dating test, the first layer could be up to approximately 3,500 upto 5,000 years old. Beta Analytic Laboratory Miami, Florida, USA tested the 5-12 m deep samples, and the result is the samples of the site dated between 14,500-25,000 BC.

The deeper samples obtained, the older their ages. It seems, the ancient people build it layer by layer. After first layer was constructed, the surface was manually buried beneath. Long years, even thousands years later, the process was repeated. They made new stone construction. Then buried it again beneath. the process was repeated until reached the current hilltop. How long they build the site and the reason to build it, are still mystery.

According to that result, the site is much older than the Great Pyramid of Giza which built in 2,551 BC. It is an evidence of a shockingly advanced ancient civilization. It also pass the most recent glacial period, which reminding us to the sinking Atlantis, a fictional wealth island or continent told by Plato, an Athenian philosopher in Ancient Greece period.

Size Does Matter

If we count the size using computer measurement scale, Gunung Padang is not megalithic site, but it is a gigalithic site. The top section alone has 5 terraces with 150 m long and 40 m wide. The entire construction, buried in the land is huge, much bigger compare to the surface area.

Some visitors taking photo on the surface ruins.

The Meaning of Gunung Padang

Name Gunung Padang derived from local Sundanese language. Gunung means mountain, and Padang means light or enlightenment. So it means Mountain of Enlightenment.

Another meaning version of Padang is an acronym from three words:

  • Pa means place
  • Da means great
  • Hyang means ancestors
Those words become one word Padang which means the Great Place of Ancestors.

Actually it is not a mountain but a hill. But local people call it gunung, means mountain, because it is located on hilltop like a mountain.

2011-2014 Investigation & Research

In 2011, Andi Arief, the President’s special staf for social and disaster assistance initiated to make a team consist of archaeologists to investigate and research the site sponsored by government. The current President at that time was Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono.

The investigation use three methods: core drilling, excavation, and geophysical scanning technologies.

Core Drilling & Radiocarbon Dating

The team drilled at several locations, penetrating upto 35 m below the surface to obtain some materials to be dated using radiocarbon. The dated of the samples were done by Indonesia National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) and US Beta Analytic Laboratory Miami.

In 2012, BATAN released result that paleosoil material from 3,5 m beneath the surface dated 4,700 BC. Then, Beta Analytic Miami released the result that the material from 5-12 m below the surfaced dated 14,500 -25,000 BC.

Those results generated many debate and controversy. Some scientist trust the result, but some other do not trust it. Radiocarbon dating itself is not a perfect method. But at least it is still better than human prediction.

Geophysics Scanning

Dr. Danny Hilman Natawidjaya, an Indonesian senior geologist lead the team to do geophysics scanning to Gunung Padang using georadar and geoelectric technology.

Three underground chambers were clearly visible upon the geoelectric scanning. The chambers located about 15 – 30 m below the surface 2. A chamber has big size, while 2 other chambers are small. The big chamber is look like a small house with roughly 9 m wide, 10 m long, and 5 m high.

Excavation

The team excavated few areas in and around the site. Digging the area was very difficult. The soil surface was hard because it is ancient mortar soil made by human. The mortar consist of 45% iron minerals, 40% silica, and the rest are clay & carbon. It is a very good composition used for mortar. It is strongly predicted that the layers beneath were buried by human. The act of ancient people burying the site and then making a new structure on the surface is extremely astonishing. The team only dug surface until 4 m beneath. After excavation, the pits were filled up again to preserve the site.

During excavation, the team also discovered a hewn stone. The stone artefact is unusual. The stone is porous like a pumice, but heavy. The shape is similar to Kujang, a traditional blade of West Java. That’s why it is named Kujang Stone.

The Investigation was Halted

In 2014, the excavation and research sponsored by government was mysteriously halted. The fund was halted. In the same year, there is indigenous entrepreneur offered 12 trillion rupiah, equal to 1 billion USD, plus the spending research cost for 60% stake in the site to maintain the site for tourism place. But the offer was refused.