Study Claiming Humans Built A 25,000-Year-Old Pyramid In Indonesia Removed By Journal

Study Claiming Humans Built A 25,000-Year-Old Pyramid In Indonesia Removed By Journal

Study Claiming Humans Built A 25,000-Year-Old Pyramid In Indonesia Removed By Journal

The journal Archaeological Prospection has retracted a controversial study which claimed that humans had begun constructing a “pyramid” in Indonesia as far back as 25,000 years ago.

In November 2023, the study garnered a lot of media attention (including from IFLScience) for its extraordinary claim that a mountain in Indonesia is actually the world’s oldest pyramid built by ancient humans. But reactions from archaeologists since publication were highly skeptical about its bold conclusions.

According to the paper, the Gunung Padang – which translates to “Mountain of Enlightenment” – was not formed naturally but “meticulously sculpted” into its current shape between 25,000 and 14,000 years ago. If this were true, it would be considerably older than the world’s oldest pyramids, with the team writing that it “suggests that advanced construction practices were already present when agriculture had, perhaps, not yet been invented.”

Among other bold claims was that there are “hidden cavities or chambers” at the site, and that the site itself appeared to have been buried several times “possibly to conceal its true identity for preservation purposes”.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and other archaeologists were far from convinced that the team had provided this, especially given how it would rewrite the history of human development. Lutfi Yondri, an archaeologist at BRIN in Bandung, Indonesia, told Nature that his work showed people in the area lived in caves between 12,000 and 6,000 years ago, and left no evidence of having the “remarkable masonry capabilities” supposedly employed by people of the area thousands of years before them to build the “pyramid”.

Flint Dibble, an archaeologist at Cardiff University, UK, told Nature that the paper used “legitimate data” but made unjustified conclusions. For example, the team used carbon dating, claiming that “dating of organic soils from the structures uncovered multiple construction stages dating back thousands of years BCE, with the initial phase dating to the Palaeolithic era”.

According to the team, soil samples from around the parts of the mound they deem to be the oldest part of the “construction” dated back 27,000 years. While this may be true, further archaeologists pointed out to Nature that these soil samples showed no signs – such as bone fragments or charcoal – which indicate human activity. In essence, without other more compelling signs of human activity around it, all it is evidence of is some really old soil.

It was these concerns that led to an investigation and subsequent retraction by Archaeological Prospection.

“The publisher and the Co-Editors-in-Chief have investigated these concerns and have concluded that the article contains a major error,” the journal explained in a retraction notice. “This error, which was not identified during peer review, is that the radiocarbon dating was applied to soil samples that were not associated with any artifacts or features that could be reliably interpreted as anthropogenic or ‘man-made.’ Therefore, the interpretation that the site is an ancient pyramid built 9,000 or more years ago is incorrect, and the article must be retracted.”

Reacting to the retraction, the authors called the decision “unjust” and claimed it had been “unequivocally established as man-made constructions or archaeological features, rather than natural geological formations,” in a statement posted to Facebook. “These layers are accompanied by numerous small portable artifacts, providing tangible evidence of their anthropogenic origin.”

A more likely explanation, until stronger evidence is presented, is that the mound is a natural formation.

“Material rolling down a hill,” as Dibble explained to Nature, “is going to, on average, orient itself.”

Source: iflscience

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Study Claiming Humans Built A 25,000-Year-Old Pyramid In Indonesia Removed By Journal

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