An enormous pyramid-like structure in Indonesia that may represent the remains of an ancient temple hid underground for thousands of years. Located atop Mount Padang in West Java, the structure is topped by an archaeological site that was discovered in the early 19th century and holds rows of ancient stone pillars. But the sloping “hill” underneath isn’t part of the natural, rocky landscape; it was crafted by human hands, scientists discovered.
“What is previously seen as just surface building, it’s going down—and it’s a huge structure,” said Andang Bachtiar, an independent geologist from Indonesia who supervised core drilling and soil analysis for the project. Though the buried structure may superficially resemble a pyramid, it differs from similar pyramids built by the Mayans, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, lead project researcher and a senior scientist with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told Live Science. While Mayan pyramids tend to be symmetrical, this structure is elongated, with what appears to be a half-circle in the front.
“It’s a unique temple,” Natawidjaja said. He and his colleagues suspected that the exposed megalith might be more than it appeared, because some partly exposed features in the existing archaeological site didn’t quite match the standing stones. The “peculiar” shape of the hill also stood out from the landscape, he said. Researchers say it could date to 28,000 years ago. Their surveys also detected multiple chambers underground, Natawidjaja added.