• Gunung Padang: Last Open Letter to Danny Hilman

    Well, Danny:

    Older than Egypt! Greater than Giza! In November 2011, the organizer of the Ancient Catastrophe Team, Andi Arief, announced to the world you had found an immense and immensely ancient pyramid inside a mountain in West Java. The evidence was impeccably scientific, including radiocarbon dates and all manner of resistivity and seismic and magnetic remote sensing. You presented the evidence yourself in February 2012, at meetings in Jakarta and Bali, affirming in front of no less a scholar than Stephen Oppenheimer that the mountain was artificial. Gunung Padang for the win!

    Except, the mountain in question was not Gunung Padang. It was G. Sadahurip, and it was only one of several pyramid-shaped hills for which similar claims were made: Lalakon, Putri, Kaledong, Haruman, up to eighteen altogether including G. Padang. What happened to all those other pyramids, Danny? I should have thought you’d be presenting them proudly as further evidence of your advanced pre-Holocene civilization, and yet—as far as I could find—they vanished from your narrative not long after those announcements were made. Why did Gunung Padang suddenly become an only child?

    Well, it helps to look at some recent history. Your account of the discovery of Gunung Padang, as also retailed by Graham Hancock and Co, implies that you stumbled on your great discovery in the course of other research—that you were not looking for an ancient civilization, and were rather surprised when you found one. But let’s go back a bit, and look at the context.

    Somewhere around 2008 or 2009, while you were doing valuable work mapping seismic faults in West Java, two books were translated into Bahasa and caught the public imagination: Stephen Oppenheimer’s Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia, first published in 1999; and the late Arysio dos Santos’ Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found, first published in 2005. Both posit huge importance for pre-Holocene Indonesia. Oppenheimer’s thesis is a respectable (though minority) alternative to the Out-of-Taiwan hypothesis, whereby Asia was peopled northward from Sundaland rather than southward from Taiwan. Santos’ tome is a cranky masterpiece of pseudoscholarship that places Plato’s Atlantis in Sundaland, a fabulous advanced civilization destroyed when an eruption of Krakatau breached the Java Strait and flooded the lowlands among the present islands. The books’ effect, it seems, was a great boost to the national ego, reverberating right up into the presidential palace.

    In October 2010, Oppenheimer and Santos’ disciple, Frank Joseph Hoff, were invited by the Indonesian government to the “International Conference on Nature, Philosophy, and Culture on Ancient Sunda Civilization,” with the stated goal of raising awareness of the glories of the past—the Tarumanagara kingdom and the lost Atlantis in Sundaland—towards  cultural development of the nation on the local, national, and global levels. (I’m paraphrasing; Google Translator is not a great stylist.) Some skeptical Indonesian scholars went on record debunking Santos’s Atlantis arguments, but the chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that LIPI would support research on the matter, as a means to finding the truth at a time when Santos’ theory would turn the eyes of the world to Indonesia. In fact, Oppenheimer was invited to LIPI to discuss his book after the conference was finished. And LIPI was where you worked, Danny. I think it’s safe to say you were aware of the public interest and pride in the Indonesian Atlantis theory.

    One group in particular took a special interest in the Sundaland-Atlantis theory. This was Turangga Seta, an organization founded in 2004 to explore and revive the glories of Indonesia’s legendary past. In fact, they regard the legends of the past as history rather than myth, and set out to show that Indonesia—Nuswantara—was the seat of an advanced civilization and the dominant global power thousands of years ago. Furthermore, the ancient Nuswantarans are still around and still doing stuff with their highly advanced technology, including camouflaging themselves and their ancient terrestrial structures. Their weirdness goes beyond the scope of this narrative, but interested readers could check out their website and youtube channel. At any rate, Turangga Seta was over the moon about Oppenheimer and Santos, and determined to help find relics of the lost civilization. Their technique was to locate the ancient sites by paranormal means, basically by channelling the ancient ones and asking them where they’d left their stuff, and following up with on-site investigations. The sites they got most excited about in late 2010 were G. Lalakon, G. Sadahurip, and G. Panang—and not just because these sites concealed traces of Nuswantara/Atlantis, but because they hid vast treasures in gold.

    Turangga Seta’s version of Gunung Lalakon

    Here is where the timeline get a little confused. As far as I can tell, Danny, you and your colleagues were out doing remote sensing at Sadahurip, Lalakon, and some other sites under LIPI auspices in early 2011, around the same time as the Turangga Seta teams were investigating at least the first two. I notice you were quite careful to keep your name from being associated with theirs, but your teammate Andang Bachtiar worked with them at Lalakon and Sadahurip, and LIPI’s remote sensing data were used by Turangga Seta to confirm their metaphysical “data.” Their findings, such as they were, were presented to the governor of West Java in March 2011, and to the ITB Mining Department in May. Pyramids, pyramids everywhere.

    Enter Tim Katastropik Purba (TPK), the Ancient Catastrophes Team, pulled together by the Presidential Special Advisor on Disasters and Social Assistance, Andi Arief, and headed by you, Danny. The stated aim was to investigate the link between ancient disasters and ancient civilizations, which sounded laudable to me the first time I read it—but I think now this was a euphemism for searching for Atlantis in Sundaland without actually mentioning Atlantis. Though your reluctance to use the A-word didn’t last forever. Through the latter part of 2011 and into 2012, you and your team confirmed Gunung Sadahurip and Gunung Padang as monumental ancient structures rather than hills.

    But there were two sets of dissenting voices. Turangga Seta was not happy; a press release from their attorneys, dated 28 July 2011, complained that LIPI had simply poached the pyramids that they, Turangga Seta, had discovered in late 2010. Geologists and archaeologists outside the Ancient Catastrophes Team pointed out that the hills were naturally formed, and the notion of an advanced pre-Holocene civilization did not fit with the well-evidenced cultural chronology of Indonesia.

    Over the next couple of years, as your claims narrowed down to Gunung Padang, and the claims for GunungPadang inflated like a hot-air balloon, you became the darling of the Alternative Archaeology crowd, Lost Civilization Department. With the prestige of the presidential connection through Andi Arief, the TKP (which became the TTRM, or Integrated Independent Research Team, in May 2012) you brushed off all criticism as springing from the hidebound orthodoxy of mainstream scholars. This, by the way, is a prime red flag for pseudoscholarship. The efforts of your detractors to stop you destroying the acknowledged archaeological site in favour of your fictional site, including a daft scheme to bring in five hundred untrained volunteers to excavate, were presented as a kind of censorship. I did construct a detailed timeline of the struggle, but it is beyond the scope of this article, and boring as hell besides.

    It all culminated in October 2014, when your activities at Padang were summarily shut down, and a new body was formed to replace the TTRM:

    The Ministry of Education and Culture launched the National Team of Research and Management of Gunung Padang Site. This policy is expected to neutralize the feud between the researchers related to Gunung Padang Site. [It will be] chaired by the Director of Cultural Heritage Preservation and Museum of Ministry of Education and Culture, Harry Widianto. The team consists of 47 experts from various disciplines, such as archeology, geology, architects, and building techniques. Several members of the Independent Research Integrated Team (TTRM), such as Danny Hilman and Ali Akbar, were also included in the team…Harry said, “We hope that the research at Gunung Padang can be expressed in a more comprehensive form because it has been [marked by] chaos and arrogance from certain researchers.

    Since that shotgun marriage between you and forty-odd experts who maintain that the site is a hill, research has stopped at G.Padang. Certain trends, though, have accelerated. One is the damage to the site wrought by the huge influx of visitors eager to see the supposed remains of an Atlantean wonder. Another is the money trail, the gleeful plans for touristic development, a train service, resorts and hotels, and so forth. From the sound of it, G. Padang could bring in millions, if not billions.

    Third, there is your deepening immersion in the fraternity of pseudoarchaeologists, as evidenced, say, by your recent illuminating performance on Andrew Fisher’s Nature of Reality podcast. Honestly, Danny. Complex societies of the sort you envision are messy as hell—they leave tangible, unmistakeable traces, none of which show up in pre-Holocene Indonesia. You speak of agriculture—but what do you imagine your Atlanteans were growing? No domesticated crops can be traced back farther than the early Holocene. And you maintain that your Sundaland Atlantis was only the latest in series of vanished high civilizations—where is a shred of credible archaeological evidence for any of them?

    Enough, already. I have spent the last couple of months poring obsessively over reports on the sequence of events in 2010-2016, and here is my opinion on your approach to Gunung Padang:

    First: contrary to your claims of scientific detachment, your agenda from at least 2010 onwards was to find support for an advanced pre-Holocene civilization, the glorious Nuswantara which the rest of the world knows as Atlantis. It is clear that you were aware of Oppenheimer and Santos by late 2010 at the very latest, and approved of their message.

    Second: You did not, despite your protestations, do a blind investigation of Sadahurip and other sites. I think you followed in the footsteps of Turangga Seta to Sadahurip and other sites, and duly found the pyramids you were hoping for. And then you conveniently forgot about Turangga Seta.

    Third: I’d suggest that Sadahurip was quietly dropped from the narrative because you could not carry on denying it was a natural formation. And yet, your evidence for it being a pyramid involved exactly the same kind of remote-sensing data that you used to declare G. Padang an artificial construction. Which means, in turn, that your confident interpretations of the patterning under G. Padang might be on the same level of bias and/or wishful thinking, and similarly unreliable. [“Unreliable” is the polite word.]

    Fourth: You’re enjoying being a hero to the pseuds. And as far as I’m concerned, Danny, they’re welcome to you.

     

    Addition: A certain image referenced in one of my comments below could not be included in the comment itself, so I am putting it here. On the left is the material between the stones of the sort that Danny’s team claims is ancient plaster, and which other geologists claim is normal weathering products. On the right is an image of similar weathering products, provided by a senior Indonesian geologist.

    Category: FeaturedScienceSkepticism

    Article by: Rebecca Bradley

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    36 comments

    1. Excellent, Rebecca. Opportunists like Hilman, Hancock and the rest of these pseudo-scientists should be shown for what they really are; fame hungry liars. Oh, and the money they make out of their fiction does no harm either. Your detailed time-line of events in this case neatly shows the way “facts” are manufactured to ensure that they meet with their original hypothesis, regardless of how outlandish it may be. Who needs well conducted science when there’s money to be made.

      1. I have been to Gunung Padang and to meet Dani Hillman at his office and Lab in Bandung. I see that your article is lacking in facts and understanding. The pyramid known as Gunung Padang (Mountain of Light)is not the mountain in your picture. Gunung Padang is not actually shaped like a pyramid, and Mr. Hillman doesn’t claim that it is. It is in step levels and fans out on one end. This doe not change the facts of his research, which the Indonesian government has severely limited. There is evidence that it is as old as he claims and when walking up there it is clear to archeologists and geologists that it is human made. I caution that I have seen information on the internet that makes claims which Mr. Hillman does not himself make. He is a very cautious science centered doctor of geology. During the 4 hour meeting which he generously had with me he himself chuckled about some of the outrageous claims made on the internet, He is not an opportunist, in fact since his education level (New Zealand and American universities) is rare in Indonesia he is actually an over worked scientist which the government depend on greatly to identify potential earthquake hazards in Java. I do not like to see snarky trash talking about someone that I would assume you have not met, since if you had met him you would know that he is kind generous and very serious about his research.

        1. “Mountain of Light” seems to be a mistranslation, possibly originating with Graham Hancock. “Padang” means “field” or “pasture”. The mountain in my picture is G. Sadahurip, which is the mountain I was talking about at the time. I thought that was obvious. The shape of Gunung Padang is discussed in a previous blog post, if you’d care to look in the archives. The fact that you find DHN kind, generous and serious about his research is irrelevant. What is relevant is that his dates are a joke, his ignorance of archaeology is monumental, and his interpretation of Gunung Padang’s geology and archaeology is credibly disputed and debunked by the other Indonesian geologists and archaeologists, some of whom I am now in contact with. You know something? They’re also kind and generous and serious about their research—but that is still irrelevant.

          1. Correction, Rebecca. Gunung Padang in Sundanese (the language used in the West Java, where the the site is located) means Mountain of light. What you referred “field” is what the Indonesian translation is 🙂

    2. Dear Rebecca,
      Wow, you are now drawing many false information, and thus making lots of false accusations here. I am very disappointed of your latest article. Nonetheless, I admire your persistent in digging information for month just to find all negative ingredients for your story. Please try using a positive eye glass in finding the truth about other people works. You should separate the real story that (really) comes from me or my research team with those stories from other people including even from Andi Arief, who help organized the research. Below, please allow me to respond to your narrative.
      1. I have never stated in public or any mass media that other hills or mounds including Sadahurip and Lalakon are man-made mound or pyramids. Perhaps, Andi Arief did say so in mass media without my consent. I and Dr. Andang Bachtiar did survey Lalakon and Sadahurip Mound for a couple days with Turangga Seta but had strongly warned them from the beginning not to disclose any result from our survey to public, but they betrayed us. Later, when I and Andang declare in mass media that Lalakon and Sadahurip mounds are not pyramids (after we study/survey it more intensively), some people of Turangga Seta mad at us accusing that we are hiding the truth… LOL. We had never surveyed any other mound beside Lalakon and Sadahurip. So you are making a wrong accusation here. Are you not capable of filtering the information out of the internet or you just did it on purpose?
      2. You said that TTRM conducted a daft scheme to invite 500 hundreds untrained volunteers to excavate Gunung Padang? Wow…how the hell you got this false accusation?
      3. Yes, the national team of research and management of Gunung Padang was supposed to replace and continue TTRM activities in Gunung Padang. I am not just a member in this national team but the vice chairman (for the head of geological working group). Dr. Ali Akbar (the lead archeologist of TTRM) also became the vice chairman of the national team (for the head of archeological working group). Unfortunately, this national team has not been activated since the change in the Indonesian Government.
      4. It is good that you recognize Stephen Oppenheimer works about the Out of Sundaland theory = as an alternative to the Out of Taiwan (OOT) Theory from Bellwood. In fact, there is another alternative theory to OOT right from the beginning; It is called is the NUSANTAO (NMTCN) theory from Wilhelm Solheim; Both Nusantao and OOT stories are equally strong. Though, Oppenheimer study support Nusantao. Oddly enough, Nusantao and Oppenheimer theory are still not as popular as OOT (like you said). I don’t understand why. Many new evidence seems to support Nusantao and Oppenheimer, not OOT, for example like the new evidence (publish in Science) that confirm the first arrival of the human ancestors in Sumatra Indonesia is about 60 Ka (not 5Ka like OOT suggested), or latest finding of Cave Painting in Maros, Sulawesi that dated back to 45 Ka. Anyway, it least you said that Oppenheimer theory is respectable. I think if Stephen Oppenheimer ever said the “A” world in his book (Eden in the East) you may also called him the pseudo scientist, right? Stephen is well aware of this Atlantis phobia among scientists. I think you too believe that Atlantis story is bullshit, right? So did I, until I read Timiaeus and Critias very carefully… then I was amazed by after reading it. This is perhaps the only clear ancient manuscript that talks about advanced civilizations before Holocene. Have you read Timiaeus and Critias?
      5. You are accusing me of enjoying being a hero for a pseud? Wow, I think you are now enjoying becomes sarcastic. Did you notice that I rarely publish anything about Gunung Padang or others? Most of the publicity about Gunung Padang and others were not coming out from me or my research team. We are reacted if people saying bad things about us, like you did. I have never try to become fame (because of Gunung Padang) or get any profit of it. In fact, I even spent my own money to study Gunung Padang. Do you know that I am a reputable Earth scientist long before I study Gunung Padang, and I have been always within top 40 Indonesian scientist according to Google Scholar Citations (http://www.webometrics.info/en/node/96) and I also have won few prestigious scientific awards (sorry I has to brag a little bit  ). In fact, many of my colleagues think that my research in Gunung Padang could harm my reputation, but I got my principle.
      Please forgive me of being a bit snarky also… Nothing personal, I am just giving back the pleasure.

      with best wishes,
      Danny H. Natawidjaja

      1. Wow, you are now drawing many false information, and thus making lots of false accusations here. I am very disappointed of your latest article.

        That’s okay, Danny. For the moment, we can agree on being mutually disappointed. I’m still responding to your comments on the previous article, but I’ll get back to this one.

    3. Okay, Danny, I finished responding to your comments on the previous post, and have turned my attention to this one. My, you are keeping me busy and out of mischief.

      Wow, you are now drawing many false information, and thus making lots of false accusations here. I am very disappointed of your latest article. Nonetheless, I admire your persistent in digging information for month just to find all negative ingredients for your story. Please try using a positive eye glass in finding the truth about other people works. You should separate the real story that (really) comes from me or my research team with those stories from other people including even from Andi Arief, who help organized the research. Below, please allow me to respond to your narrative.

      I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You have lost control of the narrative. The reason it took me so long was precisely because I was trying to sort out the grains of truth from the sensational and the frankly stupid, even to the point of asking some Indonesian friends to listen to videos of your presentations. If you have been misquoted or misrepresented in the materials that are publicly available, it is up to you to set the record straight with formal peer-reviewed publication. Until you do that, what do you expect people like me, with a serious interest in examining your claims, to do?

      1. I have never stated in public or any mass media that other hills or mounds including Sadahurip and Lalakon are man-made mound or pyramids. Perhaps, Andi Arief did say so in mass media without my consent.

      So you’re telling us we can’t trust the words of Andi Arief, who set up the team? Interesting. But you do have a record, as I’ve previously pointed out, of throwing your colleagues under the bus when challenged.

      I and Dr. Andang Bachtiar did survey Lalakon and Sadahurip Mound for a couple days with Turangga Seta but had strongly warned them from the beginning not to disclose any result from our survey to public, but they betrayed us.

      I can well understand that you don’t want to be associated with loony-birds like Turrangga Seta or Kang Dicky, but you’ve missed a major point. The timeline strongly suggests you and Andi Arief and Co. shared in the excitement caused by Santos’ and Oppenheimer’s books, and went out primed to find a Sundaland Atlantis. Turangga Seta was riding the same zeitgeist, and the results between you were not pretty.

      Later, when I and Andang declare in mass media that Lalakon and Sadahurip mounds are not pyramids (after we study/survey it more intensively), some people of Turangga Seta mad at us accusing that we are hiding the truth… LOL. We had never surveyed any other mound beside Lalakon and Sadahurip. So you are making a wrong accusation here. Are you not capable of filtering the information out of the internet or you just did it on purpose?

      Sigh. See my first response, above.

      2. You said that TTRM conducted a daft scheme to invite 500 hundreds untrained volunteers to excavate Gunung Padang? Wow…how the hell you got this false accusation?

      I’m talking about Operation Red and White Glory (Penggalian Kemuliaan Merah Dan Putih). Registration was to take place in late April 2013. Volunteers were to be oriented on May 10th, and would spend May 11-12 excavating. The number comes from your archaeologist colleague Ali Akbar, who mentioned a hundred archaeologists and four hundred volunteers – so to that limited extent I was misremembering. Though where Ali Akbar thought he’d find a hundred willing archaeologists, I don’t know; and the thought of five hundred enthusiasts let loose in that limited area for even two days chills me to my archaeologist’s bones.

      3. Yes, the national team of research and management of Gunung Padang was supposed to replace and continue TTRM activities in Gunung Padang. I am not just a member in this national team but the vice chairman (for the head of geological working group). Dr. Ali Akbar (the lead archeologist of TTRM) also became the vice chairman of the national team (for the head of archeological working group). Unfortunately, this national team has not been activated since the change in the Indonesian Government.

      You’re being disingenuous. The new national team was a compromise move, so naturally the TTRM members would continue to be involved, out of political expediency. It was still a shotgun marriage, though, and it seems the desired effect was achieved: to stop TTRM from further messing up the hill.

      4. It is good that you recognize Stephen Oppenheimer works about the Out of Sundaland theory = as an alternative to the Out of Taiwan (OOT) Theory from Bellwood. In fact, there is another alternative theory to OOT right from the beginning; It is called is the NUSANTAO (NMTCN) theory from Wilhelm Solheim; Both Nusantao and OOT stories are equally strong. Though, Oppenheimer study support Nusantao. Oddly enough, Nusantao and Oppenheimer theory are still not as popular as OOT (like you said). I don’t understand why. Many new evidence seems to support Nusantao and Oppenheimer, not OOT, for example like the new evidence (publish in Science) that confirm the first arrival of the human ancestors in Sumatra Indonesia is about 60 Ka (not 5Ka like OOT suggested), or latest finding of Cave Painting in Maros, Sulawesi that dated back to 45 Ka.

      NMTCN is not a new theory; it deals with the diffusion of cultural traits through maritime trade networks, whereas OOT tries to track the movement of populations. They essentially concern different domains of explanation—the diffusion/migration dynamic is a longstanding issue in archaeological theory. Incidentally, NMTCN concerns the Neolithic, from about 5000 BC, long after the flooding of Sundaland and the hypothetical collapse of your hypothetical pre-Holocene civilization, so I don’t know why you consider it relevant.

      Anyway, it least you said that Oppenheimer theory is respectable. I think if Stephen Oppenheimer ever said the “A” world in his book (Eden in the East) you may also called him the pseudo scientist, right?

      True, he didn’t say Sundaland was Atlantis – he said it was the Garden of Eden. And yes, there are aspects of Oppenheimer’s work that I would consider pseudoscholarship.

      Stephen is well aware of this Atlantis phobia among scientists. I think you too believe that Atlantis story is bullshit, right? So did I, until I read Timiaeus and Critias very carefully… then I was amazed by after reading it. This is perhaps the only clear ancient manuscript that talks about advanced civilizations before Holocene. Have you read Timiaeus and Critias?

      No, I do not think the Atlantis story is bullshit, and I do not think Plato was lying. Those are straw man arguments. Is Middle-Earth bullshit? Is Westeros a lie? I think (along with classical scholars, historians, and other archaeologists) that Atlantis was a fiction created by Plato for polemical purposes. And yes, I have read Timaeus and Critias, in full, and probably decades before you did. Tell me, did you read them in full? Do you take the rest of Timaeus, for example, to be as veridical as its teeny mention of Atlantis?

      TO BE CONTINUED

    4. To continue: Danny, you say you read Plato’s Atlantis-related dialogues very carefully. As it happens, I’ve had a look at a paper you wrote, which appears to be a summary of your book Plato Never Lied: Atlantis is in Indonesia. Alas, you did not read carefully enough: several of your crucial “matches”between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis are in fact describing the land around ancient Athens.

      You make a big point of Atlantis being described as a peninsula (promontory) coming off a larger continent—but Critias was describing Greece. You make a big point of erosion and catastrophe leaving only the “bones” of the land, which you indentify as the remaining islands of the Indonesian archipelago—but Critias was describing Greece. You make a big point of the land being rich enough to supply a great army—but Critias was describing Greece. This does not sound like careful scholarship to me.

      5. You are accusing me of enjoying being a hero for a pseud? Wow, I think you are now enjoying becomes sarcastic. Did you notice that I rarely publish anything about Gunung Padang or others? Most of the publicity about Gunung Padang and others were not coming out from me or my research team. We are reacted if people saying bad things about us, like you did.

      So you equate legitimate criticism with “saying bad things?” Interesting. Anyway, I will point this out yet again: you made an extraordinary claim that runs counter to the overwhelming preponderance of archaeological evidence. Under such circumstances, it is important for you to get your evidence out in a form that other scholars can meaningfully assess. If your findings have been misrepresented and allowed to run riot, it is your responsibility to set the record straight. Instead, you appear in youtube videos hobnobbing with the likes of Sammy Osmanagic, Andrew Collins, Graham Hancock, Robert Schoch; you participate in a conference of rampant pseudoscholars; you appear on Nature of Reality Radio, sandwiched between Erich von Daniken and a UFO abductee. How comfortable are you in such company?

      I have never try to become fame (because of Gunung Padang) or get any profit of it. In fact, I even spent my own money to study Gunung Padang. Do you know that I am a reputable Earth scientist long before I study Gunung Padang, and I have been always within top 40 Indonesian scientist according to Google Scholar Citations (http://www.webometrics.info/en/node/96) and I also have won few prestigious scientific awards (sorry I has to brag a little bit  ).

      Bully for you. You would not be the first legitimate scientist to engage in pseudoscience when straying outside his or her area of expertise. And I hate to say it, but your little book on Plato’s Atlantis demonstrates nicely how far you’ve gone. For example, you speak favourably of Le Plongeon and Churchward; you say their ideas are only rejected only because they believed in a geologically impossible sunken continent in the middle of the ocean. No, Danny, that is not why their theories are rejected.
      They are rejected because they are either falsfied by the evidence, or ridiculous to start with. The Maya do not predate the pharaohs (Le Plongeon). A continent did not sink when huge underlying gas-filled chambers exploded (Churchward). Lemuria was not an ancient legend, but a 19th-century hypothesis to explain the distribution of certain species between India and Madagascar. Etc. Before you espouse certain theories as fact, and interpret their rejection as evidence of mainstream bias, you really should examine their history.

      In fact, many of my colleagues think that my research in Gunung Padang could harm my reputation, but I got my principle.

      Again, bully for you. And your colleagues are right. Honestly, you should stick to earthquakes.

    5. Dear Rebecca,
      I think nobody will disagree that it is easy for anyone to get lost in the mass-media and internet information. Many truth are hidden in a lot more hoax, and many hoax can becomes like real stories.
      You are saying whether we can trust Andi Arief… What do you mean? He is a politician not a scientist. Even if the journalist got information from the real scientist, their stories often gives wrong impression or false information (intended or unintended). You said that the 500-hundred-untrained-volunteers story comes from Dr Ali Akbar in the news; have you contacted him to confirm it ? You plainly suspect that the national team is a compromised (national) move intended to stop TTRM research in Gunung Padang, why do you think so (negative)? Do you really know the process of how this national team was formed? The national team (for Gunung Padang) was and should be formed based on the Decree of the Indonesian President and the Decree of The Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. Do you think this National Policy is just a joke to stop the “mighty” TTRM to continue scientific research in Gunung Padang (or “messing up the hill” according to your perspective) ? or to back-up and ensure that the results of TTRM studies shall be continued by much more comprehensive studies at a national-level effort?
      I don’t think you’ll get the real story about Gunung padang just by digging internet stories, particularly if you had made up your mind and just trying to get information that can justify your conclusion or prejudice. You said that I am responsible for making the record straight, but here I am trying to make it straight and you are persistently bending it. So, it is up to you then.
      About the Atlantis..it is a different story, there are lots more to be discussed, but I am confused when you said ” I do not think the Atlantis story is bullshit, and I do not think Plato was lying… (but) that Atlantis was a fiction created by Plato” (remember Plato said in Critias that it is not a fiction..). So, what do you mean? Atlantis is the real story or a fiction(=bullshit) created by Plato for whatever reason 🙂 Well.. if it is then Plato’s fiction story is the real magic. .. how the F… Plato, who live in 400 BC, knows about the flood that had occured in 9600 BC (i.e a scientific data that we knows now from geological record as an extreme sea level rise at the end of Pleistocene ).

      Cheers,
      Danny

      1. I think this discussion has just about run its course, and we’ve been over the internet thing to the point of getting really boring. Just a few points to answer, and then I’m probably done.

        You are saying whether we can trust Andi Arief… What do you mean? He is a politician not a scientist.

        Andi Arief set up the Ancient Catastrophes Team/TTRM, was your liaison with the government, and was effectively the supremo of the team. Yet you seem to be saying that we can discount what he says, once it becomes inconvenient to you in the debate.

        You said that the 500-hundred-untrained-volunteers story comes from Dr Ali Akbar in the news; have you contacted him to confirm it ?

        You were outright accusing me of making it up, so I showed you a couple of my numerous supporting links. One was to an online registration form for people who wanted to join the dig. The other was representative of news reports quoting Ali Akbar. The story was further documented in the protests of concerned scientists who (sensibly) wanted to stop it. I’m starting to think you owe me an apology for that accusation.

        About the Atlantis..it is a different story, there are lots more to be discussed, but I am confused when you said ” I do not think the Atlantis story is bullshit, and I do not think Plato was lying… (but) that Atlantis was a fiction created by Plato” (remember Plato said in Critias that it is not a fiction..). So, what do you mean? Atlantis is the real story or a fiction(=bullshit) created by Plato for whatever reason?

        Sigh. Let’s go through this again, nice and slow. Critias and Timaeus are fictional dialogues written to make philosophical points. Plato was not recording an actual dialogue between the real people, like a court reporter. He was writing allegorical fiction, using characters who were celebrities of a previous generation. The dialogues are set at a time when he was still a small child. By the time of writing, all the characters had been dead for decades. It is not Plato who claimed the story was true—it was his character Critias, speaking inside the narrative. Do you really equate fiction with lying/bullshit?

        Well.. if it is then Plato’s fiction story is the real magic. .. how the F… Plato, who live in 400 BC, knows about the flood that had occured in 9600 BC (i.e a scientific data that we knows now from geological record as an extreme sea level rise at the end of Pleistocene ).

        I find it hard to believe you actually said that. What flood? You seem to be talking about the onset of Meltwater Pulse (MWP) 1b, which began around 9500 BC, not long after the end of the Younger Dryas, and carried on for about 1500 years at an average rate of an inch or two a year. What remote resemblance does that bear to Plato’s narrative? Furthermore, as a geologist, you must also know that much of Sundaland was already underwater prior to the YD, courtesy of MWP 1a. You are retrofitting Plato’s fiction to match a fact that isn’t even a fact.

        Final note: after reading your paper on Plato and Atlantis, I decided it was time to do a project I have long contemplated, a series on the history of the Atlantis narrative. The first two parts are already up. I would dedicate it to you, but I don’t think you’ll like it. Cheers.

    6. I think you should also make a comment about Gobekli Tepe, an advanced huge temple that built in around 11,600 BP… about the time when Athen defeat Atlantis then destroyed Earthquake and GREAT FLOOD… Some people (archeologist) still trying to say that Gobekli Tepe was built by Hunterer and Gatherer (i.e. primitive) community… Phuihhh…seriously?

      1. Well, Danny, you’re making it clearer and clearer how far down the rabbit hole you’ve gone. But in answer to your question, I’m actually planning a post or two on Gobekli Tepe after the current Atlantis series is finished. If you like, I’ll notify you when it’s up.

        Out of curiosity, do you literally believe that a literal Athens literally defeated a literal Atlantis in 11,600 BP? Like, literally?

    7. Dear Rebecca

      I certainly may have missed it in your myriad of opinionated writings?

      What I would really like to know is, have you reviewed and addressed the scientific findings by the Geologists ? relating to the ground penetrating radar etc.

      I have very little interest in your personal point of view in regards to Danny Hilman Natawidjaja (nor his in you) and his colleagues and or the facts of their respective theories as to what they have found.
      As you come across like you have an axe to grind ‘literally’ irrespective of what scientific evidence would be put before you, as your mind seems to be literally made up.

      Are you (have you) proved the science wrong or just the theory as to what is shown to be below the ground?

      Can you confirm that there is absolutely nothing but dirt below and in doing so discredit the Geologists findings ?

      I’m a typical layman (not a scientist or a pseudo scientist) just a sceptic of many of the theories put forward by both archaeologist and the fringe; as they each seem to be able to just disregard any anomalies that don’t suit their personal narrative,

      So who do we/ are we supposed to believe ? You ?

      From the little I have read on the subject, the Geologists have readings on anomalies below the mountain Yes or No

      Regards
      Darryn
      A sceptic of Mankind’s Four thousand year ‘bible’ history or is it six thousand ‘Sumerian’ maybe ten thousand Gobekli Tepi …….. well if it can now be ten then certainly it’s plausible that it could go back further yet ?
      Most likely the evidence is beneath the seas ?

      1. You ask if I have reviewed and addressed the findings of the geologists. And when you say “geologists” I assume you are talking about the two geologists on Danny Hilman’s team, one of whom is Danny HIlman himself. Now, I’m an archaeologist, mainly competent to critique the archaeology – which was abysmal. Abysmal enough to raise serious red flags for me regarding the TTRM’s scientific objectivity on the one hand, and the interpretation of the geology on the other. I am not naive about geology (an archaeologist has to have a working knowledge of a lot of stuff), but I took the trouble to consult with professional geologists locally, and survey the geological literature related to Gunung Padang and its surroundings. Most critically, I’ve been in touch with other Indonesian scholars, including archaeologists and geologists with direct experience of the area. To a man (and woman), they reject Danny Hilman’s interpretation. What they see is a perfectly normal volcanic feature with perfectly normal aquiferous columnar andesite outcrops, and some genuine historic-era ruins perched on top. So in answer to your yes/no question: no, there is no anomaly there that needs to be explained by an ancient lost civilization.
        You show palpable hostility towards professional archaeology. Sorry, but I suspect your reading leans heavily towards authors like Graham Hancock, who find evidence-based archaeology inconvenient for their fantasies. I have said several times that I first approached Gunung Padang with excitement and a genuine respect for Danny Hilman. The more I looked at the evidence, the more my excitement and respect plummeted. Your accusations of close-mindedness are unjust.
        Your PS is a little confused. See my comments above about what you’d expect to find in the archaeological record if the lost pre-Holocene civilization actually existed. NONE of the proposed undersea sites (eg, Cambay, Yonaguni, Cyprus, Bimini, etc) hold up to scrutiny. I’ll be covering some of them in the next part of the Atlantis series, if you’re interested.
        Cheers, and thanks for your response.

    8. Rebecca, your argument suffers from your snark writing. You make some interesting points, but the fact that seem unable to rise above the personal annoyance at being challenged means that Danny Hillman comes across as being more reasonable, and this undermines your arguments. You constantly interpolate things people have claimed on the Internet with Danny Hillman’s arguments, obfuscation what he actually claims. You make him responsible for the claims of others, and you resort to name calling. This trivialises your position, scoffing isn’t a good look for someone trying to educate. Unless of course you are merely trying to score points and we readers are just an audience for that.

    9. I hope I live to see the day when the author and her ilk are rightfully recognized as the true “pseudo-scientists,” defenders of their orthodoxy above all else, in a field plagued by lack of real scientific investigation.

    10. Wow….. it seems the highly opinionated Rebecca needs to get out more and get a life
      Her nit picking but largely unsubstantiated scepticism and vendetta against a respected scientist borders on the obsessive ….. and is frankly rather tedious and odious. Her self inflated importance as an authority on this subject ( and I’d lay good money she has never set foot on the site itself) needs to be reined in!

    11. basing a life on skepticism is seriously damaging. Egoic behaviours like yours are to be avoided, think about it.

        1. No i don’t and I don’t need to have. I’m just messing with you because your picture is ridicolous and I fucking hate canadians, they’re full of shit. Have a nice day!

            1. I’m not sure if i agree with you……………and I freely admit that I’ve read the two Hancock books you probably wouldn’t use to catch bird poop on the bottom of a cage (please don’t think I’m name calling there)……but I can see you are not hating on Danny, you are hating on the work. Which might lead to a little more of the former!
              I enjoyed your very polite responses, especially to that Cannuck hater.
              That being said…..while i believe in a ancient and possibly lost culture I hate to use that A word at all. And the more I look into it the more mainstream science helps me understand it might ultimately be a futile belief.
              I am curious about something and I ask because I feel like you will set me right or at least be honest….but the pyramids of Central and South America seem out of sorts with the cultures as I remember them. I guess it’s hard for me to swallow that the Aztecs could be so great and buildings and astronomy but yet be sacrificing people like its going out of style. The Spanish brutalized the sites they came across and looted the land. Is it possible those pyramids were left behind after the younger dryas event destroyed so much?

            2. Thank you for your open mind and excellent questions. 🙂
              Re the Mesoamerican monuments: they are very firmly located within the Olmec, Maya, Toltec, Aztec and related cultures, with no possibility of dating to an earlier lost civilization from before the YD event. Many of them have complex construction histories that have been both securely dated, and unequivocally tied in with the above cultures through inscriptions, iconography, archaeological deposits, stratigraphy, and a wide variety of absolute dating techniques.
              But I fully understand your confusion: how could people capable of high civilization also be capable of something as barbaric as human sacrifice? The answer is counterintuitive and utterly, utterly fascinating. Human sacrifice was practised all over the ancient world, but was actually far MORE common among complex, highly stratified societies (the ones we tend to think of as “civilized”) than among simpler and more egalitarian ones (the ones we tend to think of as “barbaric.”)
              Institutionalized human sacrifice seems to be closely tied to situations where elites are emerging, as a way for them to consolidate control over the masses, validate their power over life and death, and terrify both internal and external enemies—almost a rite of passage for a society, as it evolves from a complex chiefdom to what we call an emergent state society. So, it actually tends to go hand-in-hand with the markers of a high ancient civilization. We see it not just with the Maya, but in ancient China, Japan, Sudan, the Andean civilizations, all over the South Pacific, the African kingdoms, North America, Mesopotamia, Greece, Scandinavia, early dynastic Egypt – and, of course, the Aztecs, who were not just parvenus, but also bloodily establishing control over an empire. Prisoners of war made fabulous human sacrifices. 😀
              Anyway, it’s a fascinating sidelight on early civilizations, and not generally known. Thanks for the great question!

    12. Wow talk about a hit piece before even knowing all the facts, seems like skeptisism has become a religion of its own full of confirmation bias and dogma. Maybe you should have taken a leaf out of Graham Hancock’s book and actually went and contacted Dr Danny Hilman Natawidjaja personally and got all your facts straight before writing such an embarrassing article.
      As a student in their early 20’s about to start my Masters in a disipline of Physics, I’m pretty ashamed but not surprised by the prejudice and closed mindedness present in the scientific community (an oversized ego usually being at the centre of it all). The reason I pursued a degree in science in the first place was because of the quest for truth and the possibilities that still lay out there that we are yet to fully understand and discover. I’m not suggesting any old crazy theories should just be blindly accepted without proper scientific study but when you have incredibly qualified scientists coming out with information on this scale it warrants a lot more consideration and enthusiastic support in getting to the bottom of things no matter where the findings may lead us.
      Gunung Padang obviously warrants more research but the focus of this hit piece is on the attempt to ridicule credentialed geologists instead of pushing the pursuit of discovery. And the idea that a relatively advanced civilisation could have been wiped out almost without a trace during the Younger Dryas is not so outlandish anymore as there’s massive amounts of evidence for a huge cataclysm that occured during that era: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/695703

      https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/695704?journalCode=jg

      1. Wow talk about a hit piece before even knowing all the facts, seems like skeptisism has become a religion of its own full of confirmation bias and dogma. Maybe you should have taken a leaf out of Graham Hancock’s book and actually went and contacted Dr Danny Hilman Natawidjaja personally and got all your facts straight before writing such an embarrassing article.

        Dear Alex, getting your archaeology from Graham Hancock is like getting your physics from Deepak Chopra. As it happens, this piece is the end of a series, following nearly a year of collating all available information about GP and the events surrounding its debut on the world stage, including lengthy discussion with Danny himself and with other Indonesian geologists and archaeologists who have worked separately at GP (and who disagree vehemently with Danny’s interpretation.) I would encourage you to look at the previous posts and especially the discussions in the comments before leaping to judgement.

        As a student in their early 20’s about to start my Masters in a disipline of Physics, I’m pretty ashamed but not surprised by the prejudice and closed mindedness present in the scientific community (an oversized ego usually being at the centre of it all). The reason I pursued a degree in science in the first place was because of the quest for truth and the possibilities that still lay out there that we are yet to fully understand and discover. I’m not suggesting any old crazy theories should just be blindly accepted without proper scientific study but when you have incredibly qualified scientists coming out with information on this scale it warrants a lot more consideration and enthusiastic support in getting to the bottom of things no matter where the findings may lead us.

        Consider this scenario. A serious scientist – let’s say, a geologist – has come out with a marvellous new Theory of Everything which (according to her) will revolutionize modern Physics. Trouble is, it depends on the existence of luminiferous aether, and requires the speed of light in vacuum to be variable rather than constant. Do you treat this TOE breathlessly as a potential ground-breaker? Or do you use your expertise in Physics to point out the fatal flaws? If the latter, is it because your ego is oversized, or because you are interested in the truth?

        Incidentally, I would challenge you to read a recent post addressing the constant refrain from Hancock and his ilk about professional archaeologists being close-minded and dogmatic. Please. I would be honestly interested in your reaction.

        Gunung Padang obviously warrants more research but the focus of this hit piece is on the attempt to ridicule credentialed geologists instead of pushing the pursuit of discovery. And the idea that a relatively advanced civilisation could have been wiped out almost without a trace during the Younger Dryas is not so outlandish anymore as there’s massive amounts of evidence for a huge cataclysm that occured during that era:

        I have been keeping up with the literature on the YD impact hypothesis, thank you. But I hope you realize that even if this hotly debated hypothesis is validated, it does not in any way support the hypothesis of a vanished advanced civilization. We actually have a large amount of evidence for what humans were doing in the Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic, if you’d care to read some actual archaeology. You’ll find a discussion of the issue towards the end of the comments for this post, so I won’t repeat myself here.

        I’ve made the effort to answer you fully because you’re young and eager for truth. Good luck on the journey.

        Rebecca

        1. Let me make it clear, I’m not arguing the case that Gunung Padang is definitely 20,000+ years old and an Advance Civilisation definitely existed. There’s not enough evidence to make that exact claim as of yet. Neither am I against these ideas as of yet thanks to the relatively recent growing number of findings.
          To be fair to Graham Hancock, the crux of his argument since the 90’s has been that some humans around 10,000+ years ago were far more advanced than we gave them credit for and had the ability to create extradorinary megaliths and were wiped out by a huge cataclysmic event. Now we have Göbekli Tepe that proves that some humans did have the ability to create extraordinary megaliths and we now have that huge cataclysmic event thanks to that whopping two part study I posted earlier that comes as the latest edition of a decade’s worth of scientific publications all talking about a comet impact occurring during the younger dryas. Mainstream scholars only two decades ago said these things were total BS and that there was no great cataclysm around the time of the younger dryas and certainly no human beings around 10,000+ years ago who could build grand megaliths. Look where we are now.
          I’m not saying this is definitive proof of an advance civilisation, it’s just rather interesting and arrogant to completely ignore at this stage. I cannot comment on Deepak Chopra, I’m not familiar with any of his work.
          I have read the previous comments especially ones concerning Dr Natawidjaja and he seems to refute a lot of your claims against him and his research and has told you numerous times that you have been misinformed. I’m not saying you’re wrong completely about Gunung Padang, it may well turn out to be of no significance after rigorous scientific study but that’s not the point. The point is you’re making definitive claims and attacking the reputation of a well credentialed Geologist in his field using scraps on the internet and opinions from people not involved with Dr Natawidjaja or his team’s research to form a substantial part of your argument. This isn’t a very scientific way of going about things especially considering we only have the preliminary data at this stage and not a full publication to criticise.
          Dr Robert Schoch, Ph.D Yale Graduate in Geology & Geophysics and Professor at Boston University went to Gunung Padang, met with Dr Natawidjaja himself and made his own indipendant observations regarding the existing data (such as the radiocarbon dates) and on the site itself and is in strong agreement with Dr Natawidjaja and believes the science so far has been very sound and very promising and that this may well be an extremely old site. Is this definitive proof that it’s an older than previously believed site? No it’s not but it does lend credible indipendant support of that claim as it stands. I believe you are being a bit premature in totally striking down Dr Natawidjaja’s research at this stage before we have any peer reviewed scientific publication in our grasp.
          If you went over to Gunung Padang and did your own research and were citing your own findings then that would be totally different but as it stands making geological assessments in your armchair on your computer and citing rival criticism is not enough to be so sure about Gunung Padang as you so seem to be.
          All we can do at this stage is wait for the studies to be published before we can start trying to tear it to shreds.

          I don’t know if I should even bother addressing your straw man scenario. This is totally not the equivalent of the scenario we find ourselves with here. What we have here is a well respected, highly qualified Geologist (one of the top in his country) who’s carried out a study of a site and said himself that him and his team have found geological evidence of a man made structure and have taken radiocarbon dates at different depths of this structure and the data so far indicates that the site is much older than previously thought. The Beta Analytic lab has validated the carbon dating and independent Geologist and Geophysicist Dr Robert Schoch also supports these findings upon his own observations of the data and site.
          I’ve read your post about “professional archaeologists being close minded and dogmatic” I agree with you that proper in-depth University education is very important when it comes to Archaeology as with any Scientific discipline. Not to say that someone actually needs a formal education to learn this stuff, they can do it on their own but like you said “the history of the discipline, a good grasp of previous research, a crucial grounding in method and theory, and a fair amount about related disciplines” are all very valuable things taught at University.
          However in your post you seem to lump all alternative theories together as if they all share a lot in common or come from a similar place or way of thinking. This is totally not the case, for instance Hancock’s theory on Prehistoric Civilisation is totally incompatible with the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens extravaganza and he even says so himself numerous times that he doesn’t believe in the Ancient Aliens theory at all. Secondly you use the term “alternos” to lump together all the people who believe in and push alternative theories and imply through your article that it’s these non-academic dreamers vs you academic Archaeologists. However you fail to acknowledge in the article that some of the very people you would consider “alternos” are actually very well educated in their own field with Ph.D’s and have years of practice in their area who are very familiar with “the history of the discipline, a good grasp of previous research, a crucial grounding in method and theory, and a fair amount about related disciplines”. Let me show you some examples: The team at the National Institute of Ocean Technology in India who found evidence for an Underwater City dating it to around 9500 years old at the Gulf of Cambay, to you they’d be “alternos” yet they’re not your typical tinfoil hat wearing YouTube conspiracy theorists, they’re well educated practicing scientists taught in the proper scientific method. What about Dr Robert Schoch Geology and Geophysics Graduate from Yale and Professor at Boston University, he dates the Sphinx of Egypt to have been around during 5000-7000bc (a conservative estimate) due to the geological features of the site such as the water erosion featured on the Sphinx’s enclosure. We have Dr Danny Hilman Natawidjaja Ph.D graduate from Caltech and Senior Scientist in Indonesian Institute of Sciences and Leader of Earthquake Research Program. How about Masaaki Kimura who has a Doctorate in Marine Geology from the University of Tokyo and now general director of Marine Science and Culture Heritage Research Association, he studied the so called Yonaguni Monument and said they are ruins of an ancient civilization.
          All these people do not fit the article’s narrative of clueless blind “alterno” they are clever, formally educated people who are compelled to believe in their research which contradicts the mainstream. You have made sweeping generalisations in that post and come at it from a non objective angle. I see you also like to shit on Hancock quite a bit too, he’s an easy target as he’s not an archaeologist or a scientist but he’s never claimed to be one! Not ever! How about instead of writing rebuttals and hit pieces in the safety of your blog you contact any one of the previously mentioned scientists and have an open and fair debate with them in person similar to episode #961 of the Joe Rogan podcast featuring Michael Shermer, Marc Defant, Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson. Stick it up on YouTube and let’s see how well both sides’ ideas can be articulated in the presence of one another. Not all alternative theories have merit, in fact most are ridiculous. A lot of people who believe in alternative theories aren’t scientists of any kind and base their beliefs on a severe lack of evidence, I applaud the skeptic’s aim of navigating through the BS and educating people on the truth but I think great caution should also be taken as not to get carried away and fall victim to dogmatic and closed minded thinking and become the very thing a skeptic should oppose. As a student of science myself I love mainstream science and fully acknowledge its vast benefits and rigorous demands that a new theory must meet before being accepted and making sure not just anything slips through the net of objectivity. However one must also acknowledge the flaws within the system too and always seek to improve it for the benefit of us all.
          To say or even imply (not saying you are) that dogma, ego and closed mindedness doesn’t exist at all in mainstream archaeology is quite frankly silly as there’s elements of those things in all professions at varying degrees where human beings are involved. Put yourself in Graham Hancock’s shoes, he spends a large amount of time researching and talking to experts in their field, traveling to often times dangerous locations, makes an argument for his theory, gets ridiculed by the mainstream, then even when evidence later starts to surface in support of his theory (note I said support not prove) the mainstream still tries to ridicule him and refuses to acknowledge that even something like Göbekli Tepe or the younger dryas comet impact supports anything he says. Can’t you see why he may come to the conclusion that dogma and close mindedness might be present in the academic community to some degree? No one has to accept his theories but the ridicule is totally unwarranted.
          Finally I’m glad you’re keeping up with the literature on the YD impact hypothesis so I’m sure you’ll know that the two part study I shared is in fact the largest most up to date of its kind and the heat of debate is starting to finally mellow as the evidence for a YD impact so far is really starting to become insurmountable and so far for the past decade yearly studies are being published in support of it.
          Your statement “I hope you realize that even if this hotly debated hypothesis is validated, it does not in any way support the hypothesis of a vanished advanced civilization” I do realise that the hypothesis doesn’t support the fact that an advanced civilisation existed, how can it? But it does absolutely support the hypothesis that if an advanced civilisation was present before our time the reason why we have such little evidence of their existence now beyond stone monuments is due to this huge cataclysm that sent the earth into complete chaos with massive fires and massive flooding.
          I also have no doubt that we actually have a large amount of evidence for what humans were doing in the Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic, I’m just absolutely certain that we don’t have “all” the evidence. History is proof that some ideas we once held as absolute fact turned out to vary from being partially correct to totally and utterly wrong. This doesn’t mean because of this fact every theory under the sun should be accepted and that everything in the mainstream is wrong, it means we shouldn’t be so ready to close the book on a theory with a body of steadily growing evidence that has support from numerous credentialed scientists until we’ve done an absolutely thorough investigation first and I believe we are only at the beginning of this investigation.
          Now this is the last I’m going to say on the subject, these things have a tendency of falling into a series of back and forth, just going round in circles, thanks for your reply though, have a good day.

          1. My goodness, what a wall of words. I am going to make the effort again, if only because I cannot let such a contentious response go unchallenged on my own page. I also kinda like your crusading spirit, however misdirected it is.

            To be fair to Graham Hancock, the crux of his argument since the 90’s has been that some humans around 10,000+ years ago were far more advanced than we gave them credit for and had the ability to create extradorinary megaliths and were wiped out by a huge cataclysmic event.

            NO. If that were all Hancock were claiming, he wouldn’t be a tenth so annoying. He claims that survivors of the (totally unevidenced) Lost Civ spread around the world and left coded messages in monuments from Gobekli Tepe to Tiwanaku, Egypt to Easter Island, Sumer to the Yucatan. Basically, the same arguments as Von Daniken, with Atlantis standing in for the aliens. (Hancock will openly use the “A” word now.) He co-authored a book (The Mars Mystery) that likened the Martian “pyramids” (ie, some angular hills in Cydonia) with the Egyptian and Maya pyramids, considered the Great Face to be some sort of message to Earth, and posited an advanced Martian civilization that was wiped out by an asteroid strike at about the same time as the YD event on Earth. Etc. No, Alex, I will not give Hancock any credit.

            I cannot comment on Deepak Chopra, I’m not familiar with any of his work.

            Heck, you ruined my best epigram. Chopra is the wildly popular guru who uses his own peculiar version of quantum physics to back up his New Age self-help industry. Believe me, you’re not missing anything.

            I have read the previous comments especially ones concerning Dr Natawidjaja and he seems to refute a lot of your claims against him and his research and has told you numerous times that you have been misinformed.

            Hmm. I’d like examples of some refuted claims. My own perception is that he slid out of tough questions by blaming his teammates or the press; or by just repeating his claims; or by telling me I’ve been misinformed, despite the links I provided to back up my comments; or by simply skipping over the question altogether. On one occasion, he accused me of making something up—the mad plan to let hundreds of volunteers loose on the hilltop for a couple of days of mass archaeology; I responded with a link to the online registration form, and another to an interview with his team archaeologist, Ali Akbar, happily promoting the plan. I still think he owes me an apology for that one.

            I don’t know if I should even bother addressing your straw man scenario. This is totally not the equivalent of the scenario we find ourselves with here.

            I think perhaps you missed my point? If your expertise informs you prima facie that something is fatally, fundamentally wrong, you point out the flaws – not out of egotism, but out of a regard for getting things right. I have experience evaluating archaeological practice, radiocarbon interpretation, stratigraphic interpretation; where I needed help with geological expertise, I consulted geologists. And it was clear, like it or not, that the Gunung Padang narrative that had already taken root in the alterno-world was fatally flawed, even on the evidence provided. See below.

            I’m not saying you’re wrong completely about Gunung Padang, it may well turn out to be of no significance after rigorous scientific study but that’s not the point. The point is you’re making definitive claims and attacking the reputation of a well credentialed Geologist in his field using scraps on the internet and opinions from people not involved with Dr Natawidjaja or his team’s research to form a substantial part of your argument. This isn’t a very scientific way of going about things especially considering we only have the preliminary data at this stage and not a full publication to criticise.

            This seems to be the pivot of your objection, so let’s deconstruct it. Yes, Danny is a qualified geologist, whose specialty is (as far as I can tell) the use of remote sensing equipment for seismological purposes. But he is not the only highly qualified Indonesian geologist who has done research at Gunung Padang – he is just the only one, apart from a teammate, who thinks it’s an artificial construct. Some examples of why his colleagues think Danny is up the creek:

            1. Most of Danny’s radiocarbon dates are taken from what he interprets as artificial plaster of advanced composition, found between the andesite slabs in his cores, and also visible between slabs around the surface of the site. To me, the “plaster” looked like natural weathering products. I checked with an eminent Indonesian geologist with experience at Gunung Padang, who confirmed my interpretation and said (and I think it’s worth quoting him in full):

            “What TTRM claimed [as plaster] can be proven as the soil resulting from onion-skin weathering. They thought this skin was a sophisticated artificial cement produced 23.000 years ago because it contains more than 40 % iron content. .They forgot that the andesitic basalts contain up to 11 % of iron content that will concentrate in the soil of weathering due to leaching. You can see clearly pseudolayering structure in the soil between 2 columnar andesitic basalt that is caused by retrograde weathering process.” He also sent me the picture on the right, alas too late to include in the original post. On the left is Danny’s “plaster.” And you must realize that, if the radiocarbon samples are taken largely from natural weathering products rather than artificial plaster, then his radiocarbon chronology is meaningless.

            [Damn. Turns out I can’t insert images in a comment. Therefore, I have added it to the end of the post itself, above.]

            2. Danny’s proposed building sequence included a large (at least 10m deep, IIRC) deposit of river soils brought up from the river bank, including what he referred to as stones from the river. I screen-capped pix of these stones, and could see they were absolutely NOT riverine; I screen-capped the stratigraphy, and could see no indication that it was artificial fill. Here is what the above geologist commented:

            “Concerning the round stones found in the deep sondage, they are all known as RESIDUAL BOULDERS ( the cores of spheroidal /onion skin weathering)… If you observe closely and attentively the wall of the sondage, you will see brown soil with traces of onion skin weathering. This phenomenon becomes more clear if you go deeper. This is caused by the intensity of weathering process which is reduced at depth compared to the surface…The “rolling stone” is an ordinary core of onion skin weathering.”
            I am a little suspicious of a geologist who can interpret residual boulders as river cobbles.

            3. You seem to be under the impression that Danny found clear structural remains in his remote sensing results. He did not. If you read carefully, you will see that his “building sequence” is based to a very great extent on his interpretation of the cores, which passed through about 15m of fractured andesite and sand lenses before hitting the fresh rock marking the top of the massif. To him, that pattern meant human hands at work. To the other geologists, it meant the kind of fracturing, weathering, and displacement that they see all the time as a result of natural processes in a geologically active zone.

            The cavity visible in his scans is a lava tube according to ALL the geologists, including Danny – but Danny proposes on no grounds at all that it may have been modified by human hands, and Hancock is hopeful it will be one of the mythical Halls of Records.

            Danny interprets the horizontal outcrop of columnar andesite on one side of the hill as evidence of very ancient megalithic construction. Other Indonesian geologists who have worked extensively in the area, including vulcanologists, see nothing unnatural about the outcrop, nor the morphology of the hill. In fact, there is nothing out of the ordinary about Gunung Padang geologically—except according to Danny. Are you starting to see a pattern here? So you can choose to ignore the relevant expertise of a whole pile of credentialed geologists working in the area over many years, or one credentialed geologist who spent a few weeks there, and apparently can’t tell artificial cement from normal weathering products.

            Return to what you called my “straw man scenario.” If another physicist came up with a shiny new TOE that involved luminiferous aether and a variable speed of light in vacuum, how would you react? Well, that is the position that geologists find themselves in with regard to Danny’s geological pronouncements, and the position I am in with regard to his archaeology. Sometimes, Alex, you actually can make adequate evaluations on preliminary results.

            Now I could go on and on – about Schoch and Kimura and the YD event and Gobekli Tepe and Danny’s quaint book on Atlantis, and the way different flavours of alterno archaeology overlap, etc etc etc – but I’m tired and busy and moving house in a month. That’s it for now. Good luck with your studies.

    13. Rebecca you come across as bitter, close minded dinosaur afraid to let go off main stream beliefs. Do the world a favour and step aside

    14. Brilliant. Glad I found this site after hearing about Gunung Padang. Excellent critique and questions posed to the main proponent (Danny) of it as being as being a “lost civilisation “ site of extreme antiquity. Unfortunately his answers to you are not answers at all and repeatedly fail to address your concerns/questions. I often wonder whether people like this (and even Graham Hancock) actually believe what they write, in the face of contradictory evidence, or do they just cynically pretend to support such “theories” to sell books. It seems no amount of critique or suggestions as to where their conclusions are based on facts that are, well, not facts will ever persuade them there might be a simpler explanation.
      What is astonishing is the number of people who post supporting the “alternos” with some vitriol and emotion but have clearly either not read, not understood, or just plain ignored your detailed posts.
      Thank you Rebecca

    15. Rebecca,
      I am just beginning to read about Gunung Padang. I am wondering what you know about the supposed “electrical device” found there.

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