Oldest Pre-Adam Sacred Place In Indonesia – OpEd


Göbekli Tepe, an archaeological site in Turkey near the Syrian border was discovered in the 1990s, and is estimated to be over 11,000 years old, making it one of the oldest known man-made structures ever found. Prior to the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, the prevailing belief was that early humans were primarily nomadic hunter-gatherers, lacking the ability to build monumental structures. But, the intricately carved pillars and stone work at Göbekli Tepe suggest otherwise. 

The significance of Göbekli Tepe lies not only in its age but also in its purpose. The site appears to have served as a ritual pilgrimage center, featuring numerous circular enclosures with T-shaped pillars adorned with animal reliefs. These pillars, some weighing several tons, were skillfully carved with exceptional craftsmanship. The presence of such elaborate artwork suggests a sophisticated level of social organization and specialization  existed far earlier than previously thought.

Now scientists have found that a 30-meter deep “megalith” hidden within a hill of lava rock in Indonesia is the world’s oldest pyramid. Gunung Padang, said archaeologists challenges our understanding of “primitive” hunter-gather societies, and lays bare the “engineering capabilities of ancient civilizations”. 

Between 2011 and 2015, Geologist Danny Natawidjaja of Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency headed up a team of archaeologists, geophysicists and geologists whoo used techniques of core drilling and “trench” excavation to probe nine stories (around 98 feet) down to the very first layers of structure. 

The researchers wrote in the journal Archaeological Prospection, the site was a pyramid-like structure, rather than a natural hill, as some had suggested. The radiocarbon dating process has led the research team to believe that Gunung Padang was constructed across thousands of years, in “complex and sophisticated stages”.

Many Muslim scholars (including Tabari, ibn Abbas, Hasan al-Basri, Suddi, and Abu al-Aliyah) stated that when Prophet Adam exited from the Garden of Eden he landed in India. Perhaps before heading west toward Arabia, Prophet Adam went East to Indonesia and found the Gunung Padang site’s first and deepest layer that was shaped into a pyramid-like structure by cooled lava flows that had occurred naturally. 

Afterwords, Prophet Adan returned to India and then continued on to Arabia where he discovered Allah’s Black Stone and built a house of worship, which was centuries later destroyed by Noah’s flood, and then rebuilt by Prophet Abraham and his son Prophet Ishmael. 

Unlike Gunung Padang which was built on a natural site; or the First Ka’ba which was built on the site of a stone from the Heavens; the Abrahamic Ka’ba was built on a wonderful site of brotherly love. 
One such archetypal story, transmitted orally in both Arabic and Hebrew for many centuries; and finally written down in the mid 19th century, in both languages and in several different versions; reveals a truth about the religious importance of true brotherly love.

The following archetypical fable illustrates how two holy places can be as closely connected as a pair of two lungs, even though they are far apart geographically and exist in different religious worlds. Some say this transcendent narrative happened in the generation when Abraham was born.

“Two brothers who inherited a ‘valley to hilltop’ farm from their father divided the land in half so that each one could farm his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had four children, while the younger brother was still not married.

One year there was very little rain, and the crop was very meager. This was at the beginning of a long term drought that would turn the whole valley into an arid, treeless, desert where even grain did not grow, and all the springs dried up.

The younger brother lay awake one night praying and thought: “My brother has a wife and four children to feed, and I have no children. He needs more grain than I do; especially now when grain is scarce.”

So that night, the younger brother went to his barn, gathered a large sack of wheat, and left his wheat in his brother’s barn. Then he returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake praying for rain when he thought: “In my old age, my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, as well as grandchildren to enjoy, while my brother may have no children. He should at least sell more grain from his fields now, so he can provide for himself in his old age.

So that night, the older brother also gathered a large sack of wheat, and left it in his brother’s barn, and returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

The next morning, the younger brother, surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn seemed unchanged, said “I did not take as much wheat as I thought. Tonight I will take more.”

That same morning, the older brother, standing in his barn, was thinking the same thoughts.

After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother’s barn.

The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. “How can I be mistaken?” each one thought. “There’s the same amount of grain here as there was before. This is impossible! Tonight I will make no mistake—I will take two large sacks.”

The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered two large sacks of wheat from his barn, loaded them onto a cart, and slowly pulled his cart toward his brother’s barn. In the moonlight, each brother noticed a figure in the distance.

When the two brothers got closer, each recognized the form of the other and the load he was pulling, and they both realized what had happened!

Without a word, they dropped the ropes of their carts, ran to each other and embraced.”

God thought the brothers’ love and concern for each other made their descendants worthy to rebuild a primordial Holy House in this valley; and later to build a new Holy House on that far hill, where the descendants of one brother would live, and a descendant of the other brother would visit to ascend to heaven. So God sent Messengers to their descendants to guide them to do this.

Christians and Jews say the hilltop is Jerusalem. Muslims say the valley is Makka. I say that both views are correct. 

God gave humans one heart to love God as individuals, and a pair of lungs to enable religious  communities to continually recycle the holy spirit of God within human beings, among human communities, and between all humans and God. 

When all those, both near and far, who revere these two sacred places as a standard, share it in love with everyone else who reveres it, then Abraham’s request for Allah to “make this a land of peace, and provide its people with the produce of the land” (Qur’an 2:126) will be extended throughout the world; and all the children of Prophets Adam, Noah and Abraham will live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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