Natawidjaja, Danny Hilman *
Danny Hilman Natawidjaja is an Indonesian geologist who is no stranger to media interest, as he is regularly wheeled out for comment after the all-too-frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in his country.
In 2013 he garnered further attention with two dramatic claims. The first was a declaration that the huge megalithic site at Gunung Padang on Java was also home to the oldest pyramid in the world(a). Not content with that, he has also stated that the same site is evidence for Atlantis in Indonesia(b). Apart from the media attention he also received support from the Indonesian president. Graham Hancock and Robert Schoch have both visited the site along with Danny Hilman(c).
National pride would appear to drive the current claims for the great antiquity of Gunung Padang, where Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey, is seen to have garnered the lion’s share of attention as the world’s oldest verified megalithic site(g).
Natawidjaja published his Atlantis theory in a Kindle ebook, Plato Never Lied: Atlantis Is in Indonesia. To be candid, I found the Atlantis in Indonesia theory by Dhani Irwanto to be far superior.
In his review of Hancock’s Magicians of the Gods, Jason Colavito refers to “Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, the Indonesian geologist who declared the site of Gunung Padang on Sumatra to be ten or twenty thousand years old, and thus making Indonesia the cradle of civilization. Natawidjaja is a true believer in fringe history and suspects that Plato was speaking of Gunung Padang when writing of Atlantis. His opinions are noteworthy only because the previous government of Indonesia gave him the money and resources to excavate the site in search of proof of Indonesian primacy in history before the current government shut down the investigation for becoming an international laughingstock. Like Semir Osmanogich in Bosnia, Natawidjaja sees artificial layers of construction in the deepest layers of what his colleagues in Indonesia and archaeologists around the world believe to be a natural hill crowned with later ruins.”(f)
November 2016 saw a further incredible claim coming from Natawidjaja, namely that a 2500-year-old ‘electrical device’ had been found on Gunung Padang, which is claimed to be some form of a capacitor and has been compared with the design of the biblical Ark of the Covenant. The report(d) that I’ve seen does not include any images, but until more concrete information is available, my scepticism is on ‘red alert’.
In May 2017, Rebecca Bradley, in an open letter, wrote(e) an extensive attack on Natawidjaja’s Gunung Padang claims.
Wikipedia has also noted criticism coming from local scientists(i) “Thirty-four Indonesian scientists signed a petition questioning the motives and methods of the Hilman-Arif team. Vulcanologist Sutikno Bronto states that the site is the neck of an ancient volcano and not a man-made pyramid. An archaeologist who did not wish to be named due to the involvement of the country’s president who had set up a task force said that: ‘In archaeology, we usually find the ‘culture’ first … Then, after we find out the artefact’s age we’ll seek out historical references to any civilisation which existed around that period. Only then will we be able to explain the artefact historically. In this case, they ‘found’ something, carbon-dated it, then it looks like they created a civilisation around the period to explain their finding.'” (h)
(g) https://www.asiangeo.com/2019/heritage/the-pyramid-of-gunung-padang/ (link broken) *