Apparently a person in Indonesia is claiming he is 145 years old.

The world’s oldest man has been named as Indonesian Mbah Gotho, who is 145 years old, with documentation that says he was born in 1870.

What little I know of biology and documentation, I am very skeptical of this claim. Has there been anything that really confirms his age, or anything uncovered that shows this is a hoax?

  • It's not terribly likely that there are any intact birth records dating back all the way to the 1870s (On behalf of my country, I'm sorry for the hand we had in that), so at this point there probably is no way to verify this to a skeptic's satisfaction. Aug 30, 2016 at 14:13
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  • The oldest fully verified person was 122 years old when she died. 145 is not too far a stretch. However, without verifiable birth records this guy will probably not break that record regardless how much longer he lives.
    – slebetman
    Sep 5, 2016 at 7:30
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    These claims of supercentenarianism always fit within a very particular set of circumstances. The man is poor, has no records, lives in a country with a history of not keeping records, lives in a society that reveres the elderly, and lives in a society that does not have a strong position on keeping exact facts. I've never met a gerontologist (I work with doctors) that takes these claims even remotely seriously. The man is probably not even a centenarian.
    – user11643
    Sep 7, 2016 at 17:15
  • Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/20431/…
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 13, 2018 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


The claims are nothing of any significance. Qouting (and translating) from the story Kenalkan Mbah Gotho, Kakek 146 Tahun dari Sragen:

Lantaran bukti-bukti fisik yang menunjukkan kapan dirinya lahir sudah tidak ditemukan, maka penghitungannya adalah berdasar cerita masa lalunya yang mengiringi proses kehidupannya.

Translation: "Because no physical evidence to prove his birth can be found, so the calculations are based on his life story"

Satu penanda dari penghitungannya adalah pendirian Pabrik Gula Gondang di Sragen, Jawa Tengah, pada 1880. Menurut cerita Mbah Gotho, saat pendirian pabrik itu, dirinya sudah lahir bahkan sudah menapaki umur remaja.

Translation: "One mark of the calculation is the building of the sugar factory 'Gondang', in Sragen, Central Java, 1880. According to Mbah Gotho, when the factory was built he had already reached adolescence."

Saat zaman penjajahan Belanda, Mbah Gotho memiliki pengalaman juga. Ia teringat saat masa penjajahan ada tentara Indonesia yang kena tembak. Ia bersama temannya menggotong sang tentara bersama untuk mengobati sang pejuang kemerdekaan itu. "Zaman penjajahan saya sudah punya anak dua," kata dia

Translation: "During the Dutch colonial period, Mbah Gotho has experience too. He remembers that during the colonial period, there were Indonesian soldiers who were shot. He and his friends carried the soldiers together together to heal the freedom fighters. "During the colonial period, I already had two children", he said"

Berdasar keterangan itulah, Mbah Gotho sudah berumur lebih dari 146 tahun. Sesuai data kependudukan di KTP, Mbah Gotho lahir pada 31 Desember tahun 1870. Mbah Gotho merupakan anak kedua dari 11 bersaudara. Sesuai KK, ia merupakan putra dari pasangan Setrodikromo dan Saliyem

Translation: "According to that explanation, Mbah Gotho has been alive for more than 146 years. According to the personal data on his ID card, Mbah Gotho was born on 31st December 1870. Mbah Gotho is the second of 11 children. According to his family card, he is the son of the couple Setrodikrom and Saliyem"

Salah satu cucu si Mbah, Suryanto, mengatakan Seluruh kakeknya saudara meninggal sudah.

Translation: "One of Mbah Gotho's grandchildren, Suryanto says that all of Mbah Gotho's siblings have died."

Jika dihitung-hitung turunan keluarga Mbah Gotho itu sudah empat kali. Anak, cucu, cicit, dan canggah. Anak-anaknya sudah tidak ada. Ini yang ada tinggal cucu, cicit, dan canggah," ucap Suryanto.

Translation: "There are already four generations of descendants of Mbah Gotho. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-greatgrandchildren. His children are all dead, so that leaves only grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren."

So some claims:

  • He was already in adolescence in 1880 - this should place his birth date closer to 1865 than 1870, as the average age of adolescence in Java today is not 10, let alone in the 19th century (In the 19th century puberty began at 15 for girls and 16 for boys, instead of 11 for girls and 12 for boys as it is now.) So some part of this claim is unlikely to be accurate

  • The Gondang Sragen sugar factory was built in 1880 - this should be verifiable from Dutch publications of the period, however it doesn't really prove anything, as it may be that the memory is inaccurate (some different sugar factory, for example).
    EDIT: it seems that Gondang is in fact the name of the district, and not the name of the sugar factory at all. In fact it appears there were two sugar factories. According to a blog, there was a factory built around 1880 called 'Kedoeng Banteng', in Gondang, Sragen, and this was separate from the 'Modjo' factory, also in Gondang, Sragen. This factory did not last 'long' as it was apparently incorrectly sited in relation to the railway. (Suiker fabriek (Pabrik Gula) Kedungbanteng Sragen) The second factory, Modjo (or Mojo in modern spelling) was built in 1883. (PG Mojo di Sragen, Menanti Perubahan Sejarah)

  • According to the FaceBook Sragen Temp Doeloe page the factory in question was in fact Kedoeng Banteng. However, said page is also promulgating the history of the area including the factory Kedoeng Banteng. This comment from 2015 also insists that this Mbah Gotho witnessed this factory being built. The date of construction of the factory is not hard to verify (Noord-Hollands Archief: Haarlem's Dagblad 17 september 1888), but the claim that this man witnessed its construction is unverifiable.

  • He was involved in the Indonesian war of independence, carrying wounded soldiers (though still unverifiable). This is more plausible, however this occurred between 1945 and around 1949. If he was born in 1870, this would have made him between 75 and 79 at this time, and not capable to be carrying people. If this anecdote is true, it is more likely that he was a young man at his time.

  • He already had two children in the colonial period. Given that this ended in 1945 to 1949, and the average child bearing age in a rural country at this timewould be around 15 years old, this doesn't really place his birthdate any older than the 1920s or early 1930s, something which is consistent with the previous anecdote.

  • According to this identity card he was born on 31st December 1870. This means nothing at all. My mother-in-law (born probably in the 1950s in Indonesia) has two different birthdates on two different Indonesian documents. Nobody kept records at this time, and it is not difficult for an Indonesian peasant to obtain an ID card, nor would they check the absurdity of the birth date. My wife (born ~1981 in Indonesia) has her own birthday - August 1- which is in fact acknowledged to be inaccurate, even in 1981 in her rural community they did not care, although one of her younger siblings apparently does have an accurate birthday, so at some point not long thereafter records became more accurate. The given day 'December 31' appears arbitrary, much in the manner of my wife's August 1. Even today in 2016, since most babies are not born in hospitals, it is trivial to get a birth certificate by paying a midwife a few dollars

  • The ID card is dated 26th August 2014, and appears to have been printed in response to the story Inilah Mbah Gotho, Manusia Tertua Asal Sragen yang Kini Berusia 144 Tahun dated 25th August 2014 (the previous day!) The story reads that Mbah Gotho is 144 years old (which is not correct given the 31st December birth date in the same story). In this story it is claimed that the 1870/12/31 birth date is proved by written population data seen by the local records office. However, the more recent story suggests that no such written records exist. Again the story refers to the building of the sugar factory, although here there is no reference to war feats, but instead says that he was once a diver who fished in the river with no tools, on one occasion surviving a landslide while looking for fish.

  • The 2010 story Sodimejo, Manusia tertua di Sragen says he was then 142. The story is based on the 10-yearly Indonesian census of 2010. That would give him a birthdate of 1867 or 1868, not 1870. Further, in that story he appears to be aged around his late 70s, which is consistent with the age of his granddaughter-in-law (35), and shows his subsequent ageing. It seems there is a whole host of obviously false ages from this census - 10 Orang tertua di Indonesia (Sensus 2010) Officials needed to put dates down for their records, and hence arbitrary ones were used. While one could argue for ONE outlier, the fact that there are at least TEN people in the Indonesian records older than the oldest verified people to have lived in the world, is simply impossible - therefore the only reasonable conclusion is that ALL of the claims are false, since it is certainly not possible that they are all true - basically such claims from Indonesia are worthless.

  • The 2010 story Kakek Berusia 140 Tahun Juga Ada di Sragen claims he was not 142 but in fact 140. Further, in contradiction to the 2014 story it says that the man does not remember his own birth day, his only 'proof' of age is remembering the factory being built. This contradiction between the 2010 'census' story and the 2014 'records officials' suggests that the only records are likely to be the arbitrary date entered in the 2010 census.

  • It is claimed he lived 'more than 146 years', which is not the case given a 31st December 1870 birth date.

  • 170,651 children in one district in Java (population 1.5 million) in 2016 do not have birth certificates, even now that they are important for various documents. (170.651 Anak di Subang Belum Punya Akta Kelahiran) For an old man, there is essentially no way to verify his date of birth whatsoever, and nothing in this article suggests that he lived in the 19th century.

  • It is possible even for an adult to get a birth certificate with what is essentially a totally arbitrary date (Usia 28 Tahun Belum Punya Akta Kelahiran), so any claims of birth are essentially meaningless and have no value.

In order for such claims to have any value you would want to see continuous records, e.g., school records from the 1880s, marriage records from the 1890s, child birth records from the 1900s - essentially a continuous stream of data proving not only that such a person existed in 1870, but that the person in 2016 claiming to have been born in 1870 is the same person.

As it is nothing in this story even begins to suggest that this is even 100 years old, let alone 146.

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    This answer deserves more than just an upvote. Thanks for providing your local knowledge. Based on this, we might guess that the birthdate in his photo ID was issued based on his memory of the factory being built.
    – Avery
    Sep 5, 2016 at 22:30
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    Any of the stories this man tells may very well not even be his stories. His father or grandfather could have told them to him.
    – user11643
    Sep 7, 2016 at 17:16

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