The Jakarta Post
March 4, Online
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was convinced that the Gunung Padang Megalithic Site was the world's oldest prehistoric monument.
Yudhoyono wrote on his Twitter account @SBYudhoyono on Monday that the megalithic structure was in fact older than the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
'If this estimation is true then a major excavation project should conducted like the one carried out at Borobudur,' Yudhoyono said, referring to the world's largest Buddhist monument in Central Java.
Last week, Yudhoyono and his entourage visited the site in Karyamukti village, Cianjur regency, West Java.
These sites certainly bear further investigation as it is important to establish how civilization developed in Indonesia. An older theory was that Indonesian states were established by Indian princes.
Possibly only Indians still believe in this dated and largely discredited colonialist view.
Research into the Gunung Padang site will provide further clues as to how Indian ideas and concepts were incorporated into Indonesian statecraft.
More than 10,000 years ago, when the final slow cold-pulse of the last ice-age was in full swing, the world's oceans had less water and so the average sea-level was lower. I have heard (not even googled yet) that there are apparently remains of cities just off the coasts of part of India.
Obviously, if confirmed that would push the age of civilization further back. It is little stretch of imagination to postulate that either other Indian groups or indigenous 'Indonesians' did build structures early on.
This mysterious site was on the cover of Tempo magazine a year ago. If it's potentially as glorious as the pyramids, what is holding up the excavation?
Well, it's actually a quite exciting finding. Excavation is unfortunately not a cheap investment.
But that aside, if it is older than the pyramids, then it has an interesting implication. Indonesia has had a relatively advanced civilization since 2,700 BC.
So what happened to Gunung Padang civilization then?
It is clear that the first homo sapiens to reach Indonesia arrived about 60,000 years ago across the then-land bridge to Southeast Asia and that members of these early tribes went on to settle New Guinea, Australia and the Solomon Islands in the subsequent millenia.
These tribes were not displaced until about 4,000 years ago, when tribes speaking proto-Austronesian languages, who had migrated from Southern China and Taiwan via the Philippines, began settling in Sulawesi and Kalimantan.
The displacement of the aboriginal tribes from Java and Sumatra did not occur until 3,000 years ago or less.
Therefore, speculation that gigantic stone pyramids were built in Java thousands of years before the Egyptian pyramids, i.e. at least 5,000 years ago, raises many questions, most immediately 'Who built them?'
If the builders were from tribes related to the tribes that remained undisturbed until recent centuries in New Guinea and Australia, why have archaeologists in those areas not discovered evidence of even simple stone buildings?
If the builders were from tribes who were part of the Austronesian migration wave, why does all currently available evidence point to an arrival in Java no more than 3,500 years ago?
How likely is it that the first evidence of a settlement date several thousand years earlier than previously thought would be a gigantic stone pyramid, larger than any construction known to have been built up to that time in China, elsewhere in Southeast Asia or indeed anywhere in the world?
Not very likely at all, but I would be interested to see the results of further digging.
In the meantime, I advise keeping a close watch on the money.
Let Indonesians study the monument before jumping to conclusions.
I support studies through the relevant procedures: It would be beneficial for the nation. Fail or not, hoax or not, it needs unbiased scientific study.
People may laugh. But there is no harm in exploring the possibility. People laughed at the idea that humans may one day fly.
I read many years ago about the 'Javanese man' they found in Surakarta and there was an article recently about the lost city of Atlantis being in Indonesia. It could be possible that Egyptians had traveled to Indonesia and built Borborodur in Central Java, maybe I'm wrong.
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