In an article published Sunday on New Dawn magazine’s website, former Neo-Nazi and convicted sexual molester Frank Joseph reported on a megalithic site I’ve never heard of, Mount Padang on the Indonesian island of Java. According to Joseph, this elaborate ruin composed of large stones carried to the site from an unknown source, is more than 6,500 years old, with an earlier occupation of perhaps 16,000 years ago. Mount Padang, also called Gunung Padang, is a volcanic cone that had been reshaped with terraces in the early centuries CE.
These dates, in turn, suggest to Joseph that the site is related to the lost continent of Mu (which he does not name but deceptively hides under the false claim of “original Hindu monastery source materials,” i.e. Churchward’s non-existent Naacal tablets). It also suggests the existence of Lemuria, as well as any other advanced lost civilization, which in other works Joseph has identified as a forgotten race of white supermen who bequeathed civilization to the benighted dark-skinned peoples of the world.
I haven’t been able to find much information about the Mount Padang site, and archaeological reports on it are scarce. Joseph relies on recent news accounts published in Indonesia, particularly this one from the Jakarta Post, which in turn are merely repeating information provided by Andi Arief, an advisor to Indonesia’s president and a firm believer in the existence of a lost Ice Age civilization. Just as advocates in the country of Georgia proclaim that country to be the source of Greek civilization and U.S. government officials once proclaimed America’s Native American ruins the work of a lost white race, relying on Indonesian politicians for accurate assessments of that country’s ancient history is something less than scientific.
Last November, if I understand the news accounts correctly, geologists radiocarbon dated material taken from within the mountain to 14,000 BCE. This is relevant because they believe (but, so far as I can tell, have not proved) that there is a manmade structure within the mountain, which therefore would be that old.
The existence of the structure is dependent entirely on anomalous geoelectric and georadar results, which suggest—but again do not prove—the existence of a stony mass within the mountain.
The geologists were not carbon dating human-made organic artifacts, only samples of soil from below ground level. Because this soil is not associated with organic human-made artifacts (such as hearths, wood, trash middens, etc.), it can only suggest the earliest possible date that the rocks were set atop the dirt, not the latest. (For example, if soil layers were removed by digging a hole to set the rocks into, the dirt beneath would appear “older” than the construction date.)
Worse, government geologist Budianto Ontowirjo claimed that the radiocarbon dates, taken from three feet below the surface, should have given a date of “millions of years” in age had the soil been naturally deposited rather than the result of Ice Age human construction. Radiocarbon cannot date back farther than about 50,000 years, not millions, and since the mountain is a volcano that has been repeatedly reshaped, including by frequent recent human activity over the past 2,000 years, Budianto should be well aware that the upper layers of the soil would be rather recent geologically speaking. This implies that something is amiss with the story.
Frank Joseph does not report what the Jakarta Post was honest enough to include: “Meanwhile, archeologist Ali Akbar of the University of Indonesia said that it was premature to conclude that the [underground] Mount Padang structure was man-made. Ali said that before drawing such conclusion, the team would need to start a massive excavation project to unearth the whole structure beneath the mountain.” Ali suggested that the ruins atop the mountain were manmade. (Western archaeologists agree they are manmade.)
According to an article by Sukawati Susetyo in a 2006 book on Indonesian archaeology that I was able to find, the Mount Padang site is one of dozens of similar “megalithic” sites in the region, and in the 400 years that the sites have been known and investigated (including several investigations in the 1980s), no one had found dates similar to those of the current geological team. Research on the Javanese and related Sumatran sites (the two islands are neighbors) indicated that the cultures associated with the use of these sites dated from the late first and early second millenniums CE, according to peer-reviewed academic articles.
According to Peter Bellwood’s Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago (2007 edition), the megalithic slab graves and stone paved terraces at Gunung Padang are the most impressive of their kind, but are similar to open-air temples found elsewhere on the island as well as in Polynesia. While Bellwood says that the stone sites cannot themselves be directly dated (because no organic human-made artifacts have been found at the sites for radiocarbon dating), the site featured crude statues, one of which was found nearby and carries the inscribed date of 1341 CE, though there is the possibility the date was a later addition. It is possible, though not certain, that these temples have a relationship to similar Polynesian structures constructed between 500 and 1500 CE, perhaps sharing a common ancestor.
The area around Gunung Padang is well-known for its Chinese and Buddhist ruins, dated to the sixth century CE, and even today it is the site of an ancient ethnic Chinese graveyard. The documented Chinese presence at the site has been a sore spot for local ethnic relations, and successive Indonesian administrations have sought archaeological, ethnological, and other justifications for discounting the Chinese presence, according to the 1993 edition of Urban Symbolism. The promotion of a pre-Chinese super-civilization would play into this ongoing pattern, as well as bolster Indonesia’s self-image vis-à-vis the antiquity of Chinese civilization. China is one of Indonesia's main regional economic rivals, and competing claims to preeminence in antiquity go back to the rivalry between advocates of "Java Man" and "Peking Man" as the oldest human ancestor in the early twentieth century.
So, while there is too little information about the ruins to conclude absolutely that they were not built 14,000 years ago, it seems challenging to throw out 400 years of established Javanese archaeology on the basis of the radiocarbon dating of a single sample (though in two labs), from dirt not associated with artifacts, obtained by geologists rather than archaeologists, working for a high government official with special interest in proving a lost civilization really existed, in a country trying to outcompete China.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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