Gunung Padang Megalithic Site
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Gunung Padang is a megalithic site located in Karyamukti village, Cianjur regency, West Java Province of Indonesia, 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of the city of Cianjur or 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from Lampegan station. It has been called the largest megalithic site in all of Southeastern Asia, and has produced controversial carbon dating results which, if confirmed, would suggest that construction began as far back as 20,000 BCE.
A 2014 report suggests, however, that the site might have been built much more recently, perhaps sometime between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE.
The existence of the site was mentioned in Rapporten van de Oudheidkundige Dienst (ROD, "Report of the Department of Antiquities") in 1914. The Dutch historian N. J. Krom also mentioned it in 1949. Employees of the National Archeology Research Centre visited the site in 1979 for a study of its archaeology, history, and geology.
Located at 885 metres (2,904 ft) above sea level, the site covers a hill in a series of terraces bordered by retaining walls of stone that are accessed by about 400 successive andesite steps rising about 95 metres (312 ft). It is covered with massive rectangular stones of volcanic origin. The Sundanese people consider the site sacred and believe it was the result of King Siliwangi's attempt to build a palace in one night. The asymmetric step pyramid faces northwest, to Mount Gede and was constructed for the purpose of worship.
The villages closest to the site are Cimanggu, Ciwangun, and Cipanggulakan. The site can be accessed by two possible routes:
- From Sukabumi to Cianjur: From Warungkondang to Cipadang, Cibokor, Lampegan Pal Dua, Ciwangin, Cimanggu.
- From Cianjur to Sukabumi: From Sukaraja to Cireungas, Cibanteng, Rawabesar, Sukamukti and Cipanggulaan.
At the end of June 2014, the Education and Culture Ministry declared Gunung Padang Megalithic Site a National Site Area, covering a total of 29 hectares (72 acres).
On 1 October 2014, surveyors halted excavation activities temporarily due to these facts and recommendations:
- A large structure is below the surface.
- A core zone site area has been confirmed.
- Many man-made artifacts have been discovered.
- The construction of the site spans four eras.
- A recommendation has been made to extend the survey, including a renovation concept, as well as conservation and management of the site.
The 2014 excavation has been criticized for being improperly conducted.
- Gunung Padang was originally a natural volcano.
- Around 10,000 years ago (10 kya), possibly back to 20,000 BCE, the modifications to the hill began.
- Around 9,000 years ago (9 kya), it began the construction of it being wrapped in andesite columns.
- Around 7,000 years ago (7 kya), the site was renovated once more and they added parallel layers of stone columns.
- Around 3,000 years ago (3 kya), a new group covered the structure in soil.
- The site was dated 6,500 years BP (before present) by carbon radiometric dating at 3–4 metres below the surface (12,500 years at 8 to 10 metres below the surface), and the artifacts at the surface date to about 4,800 years BP.
- Based on geoelectric, georadar, and geomagnetic testing, at least up to 15 metres (49 ft) from the surface there is construction with large chambers.
- Unlike the south side with its 5 stone terraces, the east side has 100 stone terraces with width and height of 2 by 2 metres (6 ft 7 in × 6 ft 7 in). The west side also has stone terraces but is still covered by soil and bush, and the north side has a 1.5 metre-wide staircase, as well as terraces.
- The site area is approximately 25 hectares (62 acres), in contrast for example to Borobudur Temple, which occupies only 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres).
- Wall-side construction of the terraces is similar to that of Machu Picchu in Peru.
Thirty-four Indonesian scientists signed a petition questioning the motives and methods of the Hilman-Arif team. Vulcanologist Sutikno Bronto states that the site is the neck of an ancient volcano and not a man-made pyramid. An archaeologist who did not wish to be named due to the involvement of the country's president who had set up a task force, said that: In archaeology we usually find the 'culture' first … Then, after we find out the artefact's age we'll seek out historical references to any civilisation which existed around that period. Only then will we be able to explain the artefact historically. In this case, they 'found' something, carbon-dated it, then it looks like they created a civilisation around the period to explain their finding..
- Bachelard, Michael (2013-07-27). Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site. Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 2013. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/world/digging-for-the-truth-at-controversial-megalithic-site-20130726-2qphb.html.
- Utomo, Yunanto Wiji (2014-06-06). "Mari Terbang ke Atas Situs Megalitikum Gunung Padang".
- "From Lampegan to Mount Padang". Pikiran-rakyat.com. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
- "Balai Pengelolaan Situs Gunung Padang Segera Dibentuk". 2014-06-25.
- "Timnas Gunung Padang Hentikan Penelitian". 2014-10-01.
- Dipa, Arya (2014-09-24). "Archaeologists slam excavation of Gunung Padang site". thejakartapost.com.
- "Laporan Resmi: Situs Gunung Padang Punya 100 Undakan dan Luasnya 25 Hektar". June 27, 2012.
- "Tim Terpadu Riset Mandiri: Gunung Padang Truly Extraordinary". June 28, 2012.