The Bosnian Discoveries: Great Pyramids or Mountains out of Molehills?
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Is Bosnia a new member of the pyramid club?
In April 2005, while visiting Bosnia on a book promotion tour, author, researcher and businessman, Semir Sam Osmanagich, spied some unusual landforms near the town of Visoko in Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 15 miles northwest of Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia. Now he claims these hills are three ancient pyramids. One of these purported pyramids is 720 feet high, which would make it considerably higher than the tallest of the Great Pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
If that declaration isn’t stunning enough, Osmanagich also insists that these supposed pyramids are perhaps 12,000 years old, which would make them not only the oldest man-made structures in Europe, but some of these oldest in the entire world! The problem with this bold statement is that much of Europe was under snow and ice that long ago, during what is called the Ice Age. Needless to say, it must have been very difficult for people to build structures hundreds of feet high when the ground was covered in places with as much as a mile of ice! However, Osmanagich advises that his timeline could be somewhere between 12,000 years ago and 500 B.C.
Osmanagich also has fancy names for these three hills, the tallest, at 720 feet, also known as Visocica Hill, is the so-called Pyramid of the Sun. He calls the other two the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Dragon. The Valley of Mexico has its Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, both of which Osmanagich as seen. There are also two such mud-brick pyramids (or huacas, as locals refer to them) built by the Moche in Peru.
As written in an article titled “The Pyramid Man” in the 2009 issue of Smithsonian magazine, Osmanagich promotes various theories that are as unconventional as any of your typical New-Age “Atlantis chaser.” In his book, The World of the Maya, Osmanagich wrote: “Mayan hieroglyphics tell us that their ancestors came from the Pleiades . . . first arriving at Atlantis where they created an advanced civilization.”
In another of Osmanagich’s books, Alternative History, he asserts that Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders escaped to a secret underground base in Antarctica from which they did battle with Admiral Richard Byrds’s 1946 Antarctic expedition.
When Osmanagich saw what he would later call the Pyramid of the Moon, he consulted his compass and concluded that it was perfectly aligned with the compass points (north, south, east and west). He was convinced this was not the work of nature. Then Osmanagich obtained digging permits and dug some core samples, finding alternating layers of sedimentary rock similar to that found throughout the area, which was no surprise to the geologists who have studied this region. Osmanagich calls these layers “stone-paved terraces.” But some archaeologists aren’t convinced by his claims.
"Clearly there are voids or something similar in the rock, but that is a long way from saying these are man-made," said Anthony Harding, president of the European Association of Archaeologists, according to an article titled, “Bosnian Pyramids: Great Discovery or Colossal Hoax?”, available on the Web site LiveScience.
As for these “buildings” being as old as 12,000 years, as Osmanagich claims, Harding says, “Europe was in the late Upper Paleolithic at this point and no one was building anything except flimsy huts."
Keep in mind that Osmanagich, who obtained a Ph.D. of sociology of history at the University of Sarajevo, has no formal training in archaeology, nor do many of his volunteers – the men and women doing the dirty work of what could be called haphazard or even destructive excavation.
Osmanagich also claims there’s a tunnel network connecting the three pyramids, but the artificiality of this hole in the ground hasn’t been ascertained as well. Osmanagich plans to dig in the tunnel another one and a half miles, all the way to Visocica Hill. “Ten years from now nobody will remember my critics,” he says, “and a million people will come to see what we have.”
According to an article in Wikipedia, in June 2006, preeminent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, was connected to the excavations and had recommended a supposed expert, Aly Barakat, to investigate the hills (or pyramids). According to the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation, Barakat inspected the hills and stated, “My opinion is that this is a type of pyramid, probably a primitive pyramid." But Hawass denied any involvement, accusing Osmanagich “of giving out false information,” and added that “Barakat knows nothing about Egyptian pyramids.”
The geology in the area is also well-known to scientists. “The landform (Osmanagich) is calling a pyramid is actually quite common,” says Paul Heinrich, an archaeological geologist at Louisiana State University. “They’re called ‘flatirons’ in the United States and you see a lot of them out West. He adds that there are “hundreds around the world,” including the “Russian Twin Pyramids” in Vladivostok.
Moreover, pyramid-shaped hills, buttes, mesas or mountains can be found throughout the world (and the solar system for that matter). The so-called Paratoari Pyramids in Amazonian Peru were thought to be man-made, perhaps by some ancient unknown culture (the people of El Dorado perhaps?), until explorers discovered they were simply natural limestone formations. Then there are the famous Pyramids of Mars, not to mention the nearby Face of Mars, all of which, according to observations of orbiting probes such as the Mars Global Surveyor, are almost certainly nothing but oddly shaped hills.
It seems that many people in Bosnia and Herzegovina really want these hills to be pyramids. In an area torn by civil war and genocide in the 1990s, some Bosniaks, as some people call them, are looking for a heroic figure such as Osmanagich, who, nicknamed “Indiana Jones,” assures them their civilization, like that of the Egyptians, Mexicans and Peruvians, has its own pyramids and, in this case, the oldest and grandest ones in the world!
Andras Riedlmayer, a Balkan specialist at Harvard University, says, “I think the pyramids are symptomatic of a traumatized society that is still trying to recover from a truly horrendous experience.”
Since the ruins of the fourteenth-century Visoki Castle can be found on the summit of Visocica Hill – the one Osmanagich calls the Pyramid of the Sun, the combination of two impressive structures create a cultural and mythological resonance for Bosniaks, generating much ethnic pride and fervor. Bosnian historian, Dubravko Lovrenovic, says, “If you are not for the pyramids, you are accused of being an enemy of the Bosniaks.”
Some of the Bosnian scholars who have publicly opposed Osmanagich’s excavations and pyramid fever, if you will, have been scorned, ridiculed and/or received plenty of nasty emails.
At any rate, Osmanagich, helped by his legion of followers, plans to excavate at the site for years to come. According to an article in Wikipedia, he hopes to finish sometime in 2012, in order to, as he puts it, “break a cloud of negative energy, allowing the earth to receive cosmic energy from the center of the galaxy.” He also hopes that one day the pyramids will be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
It seems that many cultures throughout the world want their very own ancient pyramids, so they too can lay claim to a noble cultural heritage, grand aspirations and perhaps even the accompanying occult powers that pyramids may present to its builders, priests and worshipers. As far as that goes, who can blame them? But when amateurs and self-styled scientists are allowed to run amok with the archaeological record, more harm than good may come of it. And Osmanagich should hope that he doesn’t create a “pyramid monster” that gets some folks harmed or even killed.
In the aforementioned article in LiveScience, Osmanagich states, “We laugh at the people who said the world was flat, and they laughed at Galileo. The history books will have to be written from scratch, that’s all.”
Okay, mister, be careful, because you just might find what you’re looking for!
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© 2009 Kelley
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