Mount Padang

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What Is It?

Mount Padang, Indonesia. Archaeological Site. Photo by Michael Turtle [1]

Mount Padang, which is sometimes also referred to as Gunung Padang, is a 300 foot step pyramid that is located in a small village called Karyamukti, on the island of Java. The island of Java is split up into five separate provinces: East, Central, and West Java, as well as Banten, and the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Mount Padang resides in the province of West Java. The name "Mount Padang" roughly translates to Mountain of Light, or Mountain of Enlightenment.[2] Because the top of the mountain is covered in large stone slabs, that makes Mount Padang a megalithic site. The site of Mount Padang is known to be the largest megalithic site known to man in all of South East Asia.[3] Megalithic sites are sites that are constructed using large stones to make monuments, typically for religious reasons, and sometimes for political leaders of a civilization. What sits at the top of the mount is what most people know Mount Padang for, which is largely still a mystery to archaeologists of today. The mountain is covered in grass, trees, and many other forms of vegetation, and with a large spiral of stones sitting on the top. In its known history, the area was used as a place for relaxation and meditation.[2]Those who live around the mountain have always known that to be the case, and that its purpose was only for relaxation. Mount Padang's use is not overly known, which has lead pseudo-archaeologists to try and answer that question for us. The site has been excavated once over the year of 2014, and several surveys have been conducted that tell archaeologists, and even geologists what lie beneath the surface.

What Does it Look Like?

Aerial Image showing room like structures

The whole mountain top is separated into five terraces. It resembles a Step Pyramid like that of Djoser's in Saqqara, except it is covered in vegetation. The construction on each of them is relatively the same, which suggests that one culture constructed the whole megalithic site. Some people believe that this site was actually a combination of a few different civilizations. Each terrace is connected by a stone stairway, with pillars all the way to the top. From bottom to top, there is a total of 370 steps, which puts the top of Mount Padang at an elevation of 960 meters above sea level.[4] All five terraces are placed relatively in front of each other so they are somewhat level with one another. All of the stones and pillars look to be elaborately placed, with some forming room like structures and entrances. Aerial imaging shows this clearly, that perhaps at some point this was a mountain covered in rooms. There is no evidence that suggests there were ever roofs though, which leads to the theory of open air sanctuary or place of worship.

Work done by Danny Hillman for Essoar revealing various different testing done on Mount Padang. Photo by ESSOAr[5]

Geological Formation

Archaeologists propose that there is more beneath the surface than what we know. They also believe this is what Mount Padang looked like thousands of years ago.[6]

The mountain was originally a volcano, with a chamber of lava, or magma beneath its surface. Geologists and other scientists have dated the mountain to be from the Tertiary period, which puts its age somewhere between 66 million to 2.6 million years ago. This time frame is quite large, and assigning an "age" to something not alive is not entirely necessary for just a mountain that is no longer a volcano. However, it is important to know a relative date in terms of figuring out this megalithic site in an archaeological context. This will at least tell us who was around/alive and could have potentially interacted with the mountain. There are multiple layers that compose the entirety of the mountain, each with varying depths. Of the four layers that exist, the fourth one sits at the bottom, and is also the deepest. All four layers are dated at different times, the deepest and oldest that archaeologists have confirmed through carbon dating and The Miami Beta Analytic Laboratory is around 22,000 BCE,[6] making it around 24,000 years old to date. The fourth layer is about 15 to 20 meters think, and is the remnants of the volcano that existed prior. It is composed of andesitic basalt rocks and has not been modified by humans. Beneath the fourth layer is a void, or a tube, that scientists do not know much about. The second and third layer have about the same depths, but have been modified by humans. The top layer is what we see upon looking at it. This means that the top three layers all include man made construction, which tells archaeologists that some civilization has constructed and built upon each layer. Soil and rock in the top three layers also have shown signs of weathering and disposition. This could also mean that each point, one layer stood on its own for a certain amount of time before being covered up for the next layer. [5] There are also suggestions that watering holes/aquifers existed close by the hill. The location of the hole in relation to Mount Padang could very well suggest that people spent a lot of time around the mountain.


Originally discovered in 1914 by Dutch colonists. It first appeared in publications from a man named Rapporten van de Oudheidkundige Dienst, in the "Report of the Department of Antiquities."[4] It was then mentioned again in 1949 in a work by a Dutch Historian, N. J. Krom.[4] The Dutch have had a long standing colonization of Indonesia, and more specifically the island of Java, where Mount Padang sits. The Dutch were interested in colonizing this island after the collapse of the Dutch East Indies, so as to set up a new and successful administration here. Java was the main focus for the Dutch, as it was determined the other islands of Indonesia would not profit the Dutch like Java would. This area endured many years of war between those who wanted to take control of the land, and those who were indigenous to the island of Java. Because of the Spice Route and the spices found within the islands of Java, the Dutch were obviously very interested in obtaining the control of this area.[7] It was not until 1979 that archaeologists finally "discovered" it for themselves. At this time, the National Archeology Research Centre began to start observing this site and truly become invested in what lied beneath, as well as who created such a site. [8]

Pseudo Narrative of Mount Padang

Many people who offer pseudo explanations of Mount Padang, often use it to link it to the existence of Atlantis, or some other elevated civilization.[9] Whether this theory is to poke fun at the literal elevation of Mount Padang or because it seems like the likely explanation, there are still a lot of holes left behind that do not quite tell us the whole truth. To truly understand the pseudoarchaeological narrative of Mount Padang, we must incorporate the importance of Plato. Plato is a Greek philosopher, who is known to have produced the dialogues of 'Timias and Critias.'[2] The Timias and Critias are the first time that there is any mention of of a civilization more advanced than ours, that being Atlantis. By general agreement, it is accepted that Plato is correct when he says Atlantean's emerged somewhere around 9,600 BCE.[2]The (pseudo) scientists who have done testing on Mount Padang have linked these two relative dates to perhaps be the same civilization. If Atlantean's are supposed to be around 9,600 BCE, and there are radiocarbon dates to around 10,000 BCE, then by all means the science and chronology somewhat link up to each other. The placement of Mount Padang in the Indonesian islands also coincides with some scientists theories that Atlantis was somewhere in the Java Sea area.[10] Author of Atlantis: The Lost City is in Java Sea, Dhani Irwanto concluded that after 5 years of analytical research, the story of Atlantis being placed in the Java Sea/Indonesian area does fit the puzzle.[10] People like Graham Hancock are convinced this might be the illusive Hall of Records from Atlantis.

Another idea that people have with dating Mount Padang is that this pyramid predates all Egyptian pyramids, a mystery in its own. This suggests the idea that there are a few different advanced civilizations that intervened and created such megalithic sites.[6]

Danny Natawidjaja PhD. who holds the title 'senior geologist' at the Research Center for Geotechnology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, explained to Graham Hancock:

“The geophysical evidence is unambiguous,” Natawidjaja says. “Gunung Padang is not a natural hill but a man-made pyramid and the origins of construction here go back long before the end of the last Ice Age. Since the work is massive even at the deepest levels, and bears witness to the kinds of sophisticated construction skills that were deployed to build the pyramids of Egypt or the largest megalithic sites of Europe, I can only conclude that we’re looking at the work of a lost civilization and a fairly advanced one."[9]

The work that Dr. Natawidjaja has done on Mount Padang is enough to convince himself and Graham Hancock, a pseudoarchaeological giant, that some higher civilization had to have played a part in the construction of the site.

An anonymous writer from Ancient Code explains the content found within the hill:

"One of the most interesting things about Gunung Padang, aside from its age, is that during coring it was found that much of the buried structure was reinforced with a type of cement. This bonding agent, which has been used as a mortar and sort of glue in certain parts of the site, consists of 45% iron ore, 41% silica and 14% clay. It’s said that this mixture provides for a very strong and durable mortar base, and is surprising evidence of the level of sophistication of the building techniques, used during construction"[11] This is surely to be a sign that our ancient ancestors had no way of knowing how to construct and use materials themselves. The use of iron at this time would also predate the iron age, about 18,000 years to be exact.[6]

Cave Sanctuary

There is also small evidence that somewhere beneath ground that there was at some point a cave sanctuary. The only thing that corroborates this idea is that there was a surge of cave exploration in West Java and surrounding areas. Caves that have already been discovered date to Paleolithic times, which is from 40,000 to 15,000 years ago.[8]

Deconstructing the Pseudoarchaeological Narrative

Recent geo-electric dating in 2012 has revealed something that geologists had never really understand about the mountain: the megalithic site does not just sit on the top of the hill, it is the whole hill itself.[9] Stated before, the entirety of Mount Padang is composed of chambers in four different layers. Ground Penetrating Radar has solved the mystery of what lies beneath the ground, but excavations have been halted for the simple reason that they do not know what lays there. Some archaeological techniques might damage/interfere with something that lies below. Excavations are hopefully to resume when archaeologists and government officials agree on how to move forward. Regardless of what lies beneath, structures or something else, it seems that science has allowed us to understand that Mount Padang is old, thanks to core drillings. Samples from the hill have uncovered evidence that suggests the mountain is a multi-leveled structure, one phase being built on top of the next.[4] This leads some to believe that it was not just one civilization that built constructed this whole site, but perhaps a few. Building over what their ancestors or predecessors left behind. Desril Riva Shanti, the head of Bandung Archaeological center has expressed that the excavations at Mount Padang are not executed in a proper way. Some fo the first few people who excavated the land were not archaeologists at all, rather Indonesian soldiers. The use of soldiers over archaeologists was in some ways an economic move by the government, however, the government has since realized this and halted excavations.

The site at Mount Padang is believed to be a large terraced tomb, which takes first place as the biggest megalithic culture in the Indonesian archipelago.[12] Because archaeologists have not officially excavated every layer of the mountain, this could be a likely theory, despite what we see on top of the hill.

Another theory is that the site is sacred to local people as they understand it as the place that King Siliwangi attempted to build a palace in a single night. [3] King Siliwangi was a great king of West Java, prior to the influence of Islam in the area. King Siliwangi ruled over the Sundaland, which is located around the island of Java. Archaeologists have determined that the site was a palace for this king, finished in 5000 BCE.[13] Though this is only what the locals believe, it is likely that is was built for the king, not necessarily in one night, but over time perhaps. A structure called Punden Berundak, which faces northwest pointing at a larger mountain, Mount Gede, also suggests that this was purposefully used for worship.[13]


1. Turtle M. (2019, April 30) Will This Mountain Rewrite Our History? in Mystery of History. Retrieved October 26 2019.

2. Hancock, G. (2014, January 10) Gunung Padang: The lost records of Atlantis? In Gunung Padang: The lost records of Atlantis? Retrieved November 2 2019.

3. Global Indonesian Voices. (2014, November 9) Megalithic Sites in Indonesia In Global Indonesian Voices. Retrieved November 24 2019.

4. Collins, A. Gunung Padang: Is It A Pyramid Hill 12,000 Years Older Than Gobekli Tepe? In Gunung Padang. Retrieved October 26 2019.

5. ESSOAr. (2018, December 12) Applications of geological-geophysical methods to explore buried man-made structures in Evidences of large pyramid-like structure predating 10,000 Year BP at Mount Padang, West Java, Indonesia. Retrieved November 24 2019.

6. WowShack Team. (2017, August 4) 17 Revolutionary Findings From Indonesia’s 20,000 Year-Old Pyramid Could Rewrite History In WowShack. Retrieved December 1 2019.

7. Pentecost, K. (2013, December 2) A Brief History Of The Dutch East Indies – Part 1. In The Indonesian Project. Retrieved November 15 2019.

8. Ivan (2018, June 4) Is Gunung Padang the oldest pyramid on the planet? In Ancient Code. Retrieved November 2 2019.

9. Clemens, M. J. (2014, January 29) Gunung Padang and The Lost City of Atlantis. In Mysterious Universe. Retrieved November 8 2019.

10. (2015, August 22) Evidences of Indonesian Atlantis location In Atlantis, The Lost Continent Finally Found. Retrieved November 24 2019.

11. (2018, July 14) Gunung Padang and Atlantis… a mysterious connection that challenges mainstream history In Ancient Code. Retrieved November 2 2019.

12. Dipa, A. (2014, September 24) Archaeologists slam excavation of Gunung Padang site In The Jakarta Post. Retrieved November 15 2019.

13. Sutherland, A. (2014, June 14) Gunung Padang – Remarkable Megalithic Site In Indonesia In Ancient Pages. Retrieved December 2 2019