Gunung Padang excavators working out of questionable assumptions

Gunung Padang site, Java. Source: Jakarta Globe 20141028

A controversial archaeological excavation is taking place at Gunung Padang, a megalith site in Java, where the investigators are looking for evidence for a lost civilisation. The problem is, they seem to be working on a number of questionable assumptions, and the article talks about one of them – the so-called Out of Sundaland hypothesis.

Gunung Padang site, Java. Source: Jakarta Globe 20141028
Gunung Padang site, Java. Source: Jakarta Globe 20141028

‘Out of Sundaland’ Assumption Disproved
Jakarta Globe, 28 October 2014

Among the large stone structures of Gunung Padang, a megalithic site in Cianjur district, West Java, a group of scientists is searching for Indonesia’s “lost civilization” — a civilization that, according to them, pre-dates the ancient societies of Egypt and Sumeria.

The group has many critics, both in the local and international scientific communities, but they keep on digging. What makes them so optimistic about this ambitious project?

Geological studies of the site were the first clue. Carbon dating of the rock layers suggest there is an ancient building buried beneath the site that could be more than 10,000 years old. The team has turned to genetics to find the truth.

In a presentation to the World Culture Forum in Bali last year, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, the lead researcher of the team spoke of Stephen Oppenheimer, an Oxford scientist who proposed the “Out of Sundaland” theory.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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