Why Do Ancient Maya Temples Resemble In Great Detail Ancient Indonesian Temples?

Located on the western slope of Mount Lawu we can find the Javanese-Hindu temple of Sukuh believed to date back to the 15th century and a fifth-century Javanese-Hindu temple called the Cetho temple.

The Sukuh is a unique temple very distinctive to other temples in the region and its main monument is a pyramid structure that has several reliefs and statues in the vicinity.

According to history, these temples were built by the Majapahit Empire, a vast archipelagic empire based on the island of Java from approximately 1293 to 1500, reaching its peak during the Hayam Wuruk era from 1350 to 1389 when the empire extended through southeast Asia. It was one of the last major empires of the region and is also considered the most powerful in the history of Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

The theory regarding the time the temples of Cetho and Sukuh were built is questionable among archaeologists. Scholars point toward the fact that the Cetho temple was built with river stone; a strange thing when you compare the classical construction material used by the Majapahit Empire which was red sandstone. Both the Cetho and Sukuh temples are very distinctive; the lack of records of Javanese ceremonies and beliefs has made it difficult for historians and archaeologists to learn more about the culture, and antiquities in general.

Ancient erotic pyramid Candi Sukuh-Hindu Temple on central Java, Indonesia. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

What is very interesting is that even though in the Majapahit Empire hundreds of temples were erected throughout the kingdom, these two are nothing like those others. The temples of Sukuh and Ceto do not resemble traditional Majapahit architecture as they have very few details that can be attributed to the construction styles of that period, yet they seem to resemble construction methods of another civilization, located thousands of kilometers in another direction, the Maya civilization.

After looking at the images of the Sukho temple and the Cetho temple we cannot help but notice how beautiful these ancient constructions are, but furthermore, when compared to the construction styles of the ancient Maya civilization, they have incredible similarities that you cannot overlook. With the stone stairway that rises through the middle of the pyramid towards its summit, a characteristic element of design of many Mayan pyramids and temples, strangely, the same characteristics can be found in Indonesia. Archaeologists have not been able to determine why the builders of the temples of Sukho and Cetho chose to build pyramids that are very similar to the ones in the Americas.

A comparison of the Pyramids of Cetho and Sukuh (above) and the Maya temples of Tikal and Chacchoben (below)
A comparison of the Pyramids of Cetho and Sukuh (above) and the Maya temples of Tikal and Chacchoben (below)

The ancient structure of Candi Sukho can hardly be compared to any other ancient building but has an incredible similarity to pyramids reminiscent of a Maya monument; furthermore, the surrounding decorative items found in the vicinity of the temple seem to strangely resemble some of the decorative items that are found next to Maya temples.

Is this just a coincidence? Possibly it is, but there are temples all over the world that have what appear to be characteristic traits, that are constantly repeated in different monuments.

Not only is it strange that the temples in Indonesia resemble temples of the ancient Maya civilization, but there are several statues that can be found in Indonesia in the vicinity of the temples of Sukho and Cetho that are unlike other usual native statues.

Some scholars believe that this statue, does not represent a native Javanese person.
Some scholars believe that this statue does not represent a native Javanese person.

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