Bosnian pyramid claims

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Coordinates: 43°58′37″N 18°10′34″E / 43.97694°N 18.17611°E / 43.97694; 18.17611

Visočica hill in Bosnia
Plješevica hill in Bosnia

Claims about Bosnian pyramids are a pseudoarchaeological[1] notion promoted by author Semir Osmanagić, who proposes that a cluster of natural hills in central Bosnia and Herzegovina are the largest human-made ancient pyramids on Earth. The hills are located near the town of Visoko, northwest of Sarajevo. Visočica hill, where the old town of Visoki was once sited, came to international attention in October 2005, following a news-media campaign by Osmanagić and his supporters.

Osmanagić states that he has found tunnels, stone blocks and ancient mortar, which he has suggested once covered the Visočica structure. He opened excavations in 2006 which have reshaped the hill, making it look like a stepped pyramid.[2][3] Geologists, archeologists and other scientists have however concluded, after analysis of the site, its known history, and the excavations, that the hills are natural formations known as flatirons[4] and that there are no signs of human construction involved.[5][6][7] The European Association of Archaeologists released a statement calling the pyramid hypothesis a "cruel hoax".[8]

Osmanagić's claims[edit]

Osmanagić has dubbed the Visočica hill the "Pyramid of the Sun", and two nearby hills, identified from satellite and aerial photography, the "Pyramid of the Moon" (Plješevica hill) and the "Pyramid of the (Bosnian) Dragon" (another two, "Pyramid of the Earth" and "Pyramid of Love" have been mentioned in reports).[9][4] According to Enver Buza, a surveyor from Sarajevo’s Geodetic Institute, the "Pyramid of the Sun" is perfectly oriented to the north.[4][10] The "Pyramid of the Moon" is claimed to be a step pyramid, with three triangular sides and a flat top.[4] According to Osmanagić, the sides of the pyramid are oriented toward cardinal points, denoting it's not "the work of mother nature".[4] He and his team have conducted satellite photography of the area, and the thermal inertia analysis reported to reveal faster heat loss than would occur with a hillside.[11]

Newspaper reports have quoted Osmanagić as stating that they were constructed by ancient Illyrian inhabitants of the Balkans as early as 12,000 BC.[4] In an interview with Philip Coppens in Nexus (April–May 2006), Osmanagić attempted to clarify his previous statements, stating he was misquoted, and that they were most likely constructed by the Illyrians, who, according to Osmanagić, lived in the area from 12,000 BC to 500 BC, and that the pyramid was therefore most likely constructed between those two dates. Later he argued that the hill is an example of cultures building on the top of other cultures.[9]

According to Osmanagić, the excavation has produced evidence of entrance plateau and building blocks that could be part of a pyramid's outer surface, as well as tunnels.[9][11] Additionally, Osmanagić states that he has found tunnels in the hillside.[11] Osmanagić claims that the conglomerate blocks were made of concrete which was poured on site, initially supported by Joseph Davidovits.[4][11] The tunnels, named as Ravne tunnels, are claimed to be ancient man-made underground network connecting the three pyramids.[9][12] They are thought to be 2.4 miles (3.8km) long.[9] Osmanagić claims the tunnels were partially filled when sea levels rose by 1,500 feet at the end of the Ice Age, and that there various in-tunnels boulders from 15,000 years ago.[4][11] It is claimed that within them were found fossilised leaves which are dated 34,000 years ago.[12]

He believes the Mesoamerican pyramids and Egyptian pyramids are built by the same people as the Visočica hill, with the hill built last. However, upon further thought he has decided that this dating mechanism may not be reliable and has announced Visočica hill could be "The mother of all Pyramids", which he says would be corroborated by the existence of sacred geometry and further numerological study of messages left in the pyramid for future generations.[13]

Osmanagić wishes to excavate in order to "break a cloud of negative energy, allowing the Earth to receive cosmic energy from the centre of the galaxy".[14][15] In October 2011 a Sarajevo court ended a four-year court case by giving permission for further investigation of the Visočica hill.[16]

According to Osmanagić, the dig in 2006 involved an international team of archaeologists from Australia, Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom and Slovenia.[17] However, many archaeologists he named have stated they had not agreed to participate and were never at the site.[18] He also claimed the support of an "Oxford archaeologist" who was actually an unqualified undergraduate, and his foundation's web site claimed support of a British Member of Parliament but the name given did not match any sitting member.[19]

Despite being completely disowned by the scientific community, Semir Osmanagić was still pursuing his project in 2011. His excavations were still funded by local authorities, and the "pyramids" were visited by school children and passed off to them as being part of their Bosnian heritage.[1]

Many scholars noted that the phenomenon is used for serious ideological, political and economical gains in Bosnia.[9][4][11][10]

Scholarly reception[edit]

Seven leading European archaeologists have issued a European Association of Archaeologists Declaration stating:

We, the undersigned professional archaeologists from all parts of Europe, wish to protest strongly at the continuing support by the Bosnian authorities for the so-called "pyramid" project being conducted on hills at and near Visoko. This scheme is a cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public and has no place in the world of genuine science. It is a waste of scarce resources that would be much better used in protecting the genuine archaeological heritage and is diverting attention from the pressing problems that are affecting professional archaeologists in Bosnia-Herzegovina on a daily basis.[8]

The Declaration was signed by Hermann Parzinger, President of German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, Willem Willems, Inspector General of Rijksinspectie Archeologie in The Hague, Jean-Paul Demoule, President of the Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives (INRAP) in Paris, Romuald Schild, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Vassil Nikolov, Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Anthony Harding, President of the European Association of Archaeologists, and Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology in York.[8]

Osmanagić's assertions, widely reported in the mass media, have been categorically refuted by a number of experts, who have accused him of promoting pseudo-scientific notions and damaging archaeological sites with his excavations. Amar Karapuš, a curator at the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, said "When I first read about the pyramids I thought it was a very funny joke. I just couldn't believe that anyone in the world could believe this."[4] Garrett Fagan of Penn State University is quoted as saying "They should not be allowed to destroy genuine sites in the pursuit of these delusions[...] It’s as if someone were given permission to bulldoze Stonehenge to find secret chambers of lost ancient wisdom underneath."[20]

Enver Imamović of the University of Sarajevo, a former director of the National Museum of Sarajevo, concerned that the excavations will damage historic sites such as the medieval royal capital Visoki, said that the excavations would "irreversibly destroy a national treasure".[21] Excavations by archaeologists not related to the Foundation in the summer of 2008 uncovered medieval artifacts and led to renewed calls for the government to cancel Osmanagić's digging permits.[22]

One of his former employees, Nadija Nukić, told a Bosnian newspaper that carvings on stones that Osmanagić characterizes as dating from ancient times were not present when the stones were first uncovered but were later inscribed by his team, an accusation that Osmanagić denies.[4]

The town was Bosnia's capital during the Middle Ages, and ruins of a medieval fortress is located atop Visočica hill.[4] The fortress was built over an old Roman Empire observation post, which in turn was constructed over the ruins of an ancient settlement.[9]


Boston University's Curtis Runnels, an expert in prehistoric Greece and the Balkans states that, "Between 27,000 and 12,000 years ago, the Balkans were locked in the last Glacial maximum, a period of very cold and dry climate with glaciers in some of the Dinaric Alps. The only occupants were Upper Paleolithic hunters and gatherers who left behind open-air camp sites and traces of occupation in caves. These remains consist of simple stone tools, hearths, and remains of animals and plants that were consumed for food. These people did not have the tools or skills to engage in the construction of monumental architecture."[23] According to him, "Stone Age hunters and gatherers, did not have populations large enough or social structures organised in ways that would have permitted the creation of pyramids on a large scale", while "cultures capable of producing such "colossal buildings" came about in that region only about 2,500 years ago. Even then, they did not construct buildings of that size and form".[12]

According to archaeologists there is evidence of 7,000 year old human settlements in the valley. In 2006 a German team found 24,000 Neolithic artefacts one metre below ground.[9]

After visiting Visočica hill, Professor Anthony Harding, president of the European Association of Archaeologists, wrote in a letter to the editor of The Times on 25 April 2006, "We saw areas of natural stone (a breccia), with fissures and cracks; but no sign of anything that looked like archaeology".[6] Harding referred to Osmanagić's theories as "wacky" and "absurd" and expressed concern that insufficient safeguards were in place to protect Bosnia's "rich heritage" from "looting and unmonitored or unauthorised development".[24]

Brian Stewart, assistant curator at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan stated that "There were very worrying reports that he [Osmanagić] and his team have essentially sculpted the sides of these natural hills into something they think resembles pyramids, in the process stripping away sediment which contains layers of actual archaeology from mediaeval and earlier periods".[12]

Joseph Davidovits who researched a piece of concrete material that "is made of antique concrete (not modern)" and "with artificial pozzolan (calcined clay)" concluded that the information published on the project's website are inaccurate, as "is a kind of Roman concrete, which in no way corresponds to the materials that constitute the casing of the pyramids and look like pudding stone".[25][26]


Visočica hill conglomerate layers
Visočica hill conglomerate layers

On 8 May 2006, members of the Geological team investigating Visočica on behalf of the Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation held a press conference in Tuzla to present the results of their research. The academics, from the Faculty of Mining and Geology at the University of Tuzla and led by Professor Dr. Sejfudin Vrabac, concluded that the hill is a natural geological formation, made of clastic sediments of layered composition and varying thickness, and that its shape is a consequence of endodynamical and exodynamical processes in the post-Miocene era.[27][28] The pyramid is composed of the same matter as mountains in the area; layers of conglomerate, clay and sandstone.[4]

According to Professor Vrabac, who specializes in paleogeology, there are dozens of similar morphological formations in the Sarajevo-Zenica mining basin alone. The Geological team report on Visočica, based on the data collected in six drill holes at 3 to 17 metre depths, is supported by the Research and Teaching Council of the Faculty of Mining and Geology, as well as the Association of Geologists of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[28][citation needed]

In June 2006, Zahi Hawass's name became linked to the excavations[29] as recommending a supposed expert, Ali Abdullah Barakat, to investigate the hills. Barakat is affiliated to the Egyptian Mineral Resources Agency, and has co-authored an article in the prestigious scientific journal Science.[30] Upon being contacted Hawass denied any involvement, accusing Osmanagić of "giving out false information", and clarifying that Barakat "knows nothing about Egyptian pyramids".[31]

The Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation has said that Barakat inspected the hills and stated, "My opinion is that this is a type of pyramid, probably a primitive pyramid."[18][32] In November 2007 an English version of a 2006 report by Barakat was posted on the foundation site.[33] In the report, Barakat states that Visoko is located at an important intersection of ancient roads; that the age of the tunnel might be dated from karstification features.

On the Sun pyramid, Barakat writes, "The possibility that natural processes created this shape is very weak. Natural processes can create hazards, but not such pyramidal forms as these. (...) One may conclude that the human hands modified this hill to give it a more regular/geometrical shape (artificial pyramid) (...) The nature of this pyramid indicates that human hands sculptured the body of the pyramid from top to bottom. (...) This model of construction can be easily destroyed by natural processes, leaving the natural hill, thus only the traces of the covering stones may remain". Barakat suggests that reason for the sculpting of this pyramid may have been to protect it from natural processes, as the pyramidal form is a more resistant shape. His conclusion is as follows:

The observed hills (Visočica , Plješevica, Buci) are most likely natural hills that were later modified in places by human activities, possibly during several historical episodes. The traces of such modifications have been either overprinted by later cultures, or by simple erosive tectonic processes, which are rather significant and far-reaching in a complex of the geographical, cultural and geological system, as seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even though, there is a compelling evidence of the existence of the pyramid-shaped, man-made hill-forms in Bosnia, the results are still inconclusive and require further detailed geological, geophysical, tectonic and most importantly, archaeological studies.

The excavations in 2006 revealed layers of fractured conglomerate at Visočica, and cracked sandstone plates separated by layers of silt and clay at Plješevica hill.[4] Osmanagić also invited geologist and geophysicist Robert Schoch to visit the site. In a preliminary report Schoch concluded that there were natural geological explanations, "isn't even unusual or spectacular from the geological point of view",[4] for all the features asserted to be artificial by Osmanagić. He also accused the workers of carving the hillside to make impressions of stepped sides on the "Pyramid of the Moon".[4] Paul Heinrich, an archaeological geologist at Louisiana State University, stated that the formations are "called ‘flatirons' in the United States and you see a lot of them out West ... hundreds around the world, including "Russian Twin Pyramids" in Vladivostok".[4]

In the case of the tunnels Schoch further added: 'The much-touted “ancient inscriptions” seem not to be ancient at all. I was told by a reliable source that the inscriptions were not there when members of the “pyramid team” initially entered the tunnels less than two years ago. The “ancient inscriptions” had been added since, perhaps non-maliciously, or perhaps as a downright hoax.'[34] Schoch's website documents "extreme damage being done by the way the excavations are being performed," and accuses Osmanagić of launching "a deliberate smear campaign."[35]


In 2007 a report by Egyptologist Nabil Mohamed Swelim was publicised by the Archaeological Park which said that the Pyramid of the Sun was the world's largest pyramid.[36] After two visits to Visoko, Swelim released a report in 2007 in which he concluded, "Arguments in favour or in disfavour have no effect on the fact that the pyramid concept and the properties are there for everyone to see."[37] In 2010, however, Swelim released a report in which he clarified that he does not support the claim that the site is a man-made pyramid, but rather that he uses the term for any feature, natural or artificial, which is a geometric pyramid. He does not exclude the possibility it is man-made.[38]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Les « pyramides » de Bosnie-Herzégovine: une affaire de pseudo-archéologie dans le contexte bosnien, Balkanologie, Vol. XIII, n° 1-2, décembre 2011: "les “pyramides” de Bosnie, après six années de fouilles sans aucun résultat scientifique, continuent d'être visitées et financées par les autorités, et montrées aux enfants des écoles de Bosnie comme un élément de leur patrimoine."
  2. ^ Woodard, C. (2007) The Great Pyramids of…Bosnia? Chronicle of Higher Education. vol. 53 no 30, pA12-A18. March 30, 2007.
  3. ^ Pruitt, T. (2012a) Performance, Participation and Pyramids: Addressing Meaning and Method Behind Alternative Archaeology in Visoko, Bosnia. in A. Simandiraki and E. Stefanou, eds., pp. 20-32, From Archaeology to Archaeologies: the 'Other' Past’. BAR International Series no. 2409. Archaeopress, Oxford, England. ISBN 978-1407310077
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Colin Woodard (December 2009). "The Pyramid Man:The Mystery of Bosnia's Ancient Pyramids" (40:9). Smithsonian. 
  5. ^ Pyramid No More, Sub Rosa, Issue 6, Oct 2006.
  6. ^ a b The great Bosnian pyramid scheme by Anthony Harding, British Archaeology November/December 2006
  7. ^ John Bohannon, Mad About Pyramids, Science Magazine, 22 September 2006.
  8. ^ a b c Declaration from the European Association of Archaeologists, 11 Dec 2006
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dig for ancient pyramid in Bosnia". BBC News. 15 April 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Tara Maclsaac (13 November 2013). "5 Mysterious Ruins That Predate Known Civilization?". The Epoch Times. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Ian Traynor (5 October 2006). "Tourists flock to Bosnian hills but experts mock amateur archaeologist's pyramid claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d Carolyn Khew (14 August 2015). "Pyramids exist in Bosnia: Archaeologist". The Straits Times. Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Osmanagic: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Candidate for “Mother” of all Pyramids, FENA News, 20 April 2005
  14. ^ Osmanagić, Semir (July 2006). "Energijsko središče sveta?" [The energy center of the world] (in Slovenian). Misteriji. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-11-20. Mi razbijamo negativni energijski oblak. To mora biti narejeno pred letom 2012, da bi lahko sprejeli zgodovinski vpliv vesoljne energije iz koz- mičnega centra naše galaksi- je. 
  15. ^ "5-year Plan of Research on Visoko's Visocica 1 Jan 2006 – 31 Dec 2010". Archived from the original on July 15, 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006. 
  16. ^ Major victory in bid to uncover potential remains of a lost civilisation, Balkans Business News, 19 January 2012
  17. ^ Australian in Bosnia pyramid riddle, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 January 2006
  18. ^ a b Mark Rose, Bosnian "Pyramids" Update, Archaeology Magazine Online, 14 June 2006
  19. ^ John Bohannon, "Researchers Helpless as Bosnian Pyramid Bandwagon Gathers Pace", Science 314:1862
  20. ^ Nick Hawton, Indiana Jones of the Balkans and the mystery of a hidden pyramid, Times Online, 15 April 2006
  21. ^ Lucian Harris, Amateur to dig on site of medieval capital in search of Bosnia's own Valley of the Kings, The Art Newspaper, 15 April 2006 Archived April 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Jusuf Ramadanovic (18 September 2008). "Archaeologists find medieval artefacts on Mt. Visocica, disparage pyramid seeker". Southeast European Times. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Rose, Mark. "The Bosnia-Atlantis Connection". Archaeology Magazine Online. URL accessed 2006-04-29.
  24. ^ Anthony Harding (25 April 2006). "Bosnia's rich heritage". Times Online.  (Full Article)
  25. ^ Joseph Davidovits (13 February 2009). "The Pyramids in Bosnia (Europe), man-made stone or Roman concrete". Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Joseph Davidovits (22 November 2013). "Wrong statement on Pyramids of Bosnia". Retrieved 16 February 2016. 
  27. ^ "Vrabac: Visočica je prirodna geološka tvorevina" (in Bosnian). FEMA News Agency. 2006-05-08. 
  28. ^ a b Sejfudin Vrabac; et al. (2006-04-17). "Izvještaj o geološkim istraživanjima Visočice kod Visokog" (PDF) (in Bosnian). Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering Faculty of University of Tuzla. 
  29. ^ Bosnian 'pyramid' created by nature, say European experts, AFP, June 12, 2006.
  30. ^ "The Kamil Crater in Egypt". Retrieved 2015-12-24. 
  31. ^ Letter to Archaeology Magazine (PDF)
  32. ^ Aida Cerkez-Robinson British Expert Nixes Bosnia Pyramid Claim, Washington Post
  33. ^ At last, Dr. Barakat’s report, 8 May 2006
  34. ^ [1], The New Archaeology Review vol 1.8, pp 16-17, September 2006
  35. ^ Articles by Dr. Schoch & Dr. Dowell
  36. ^ "Dr. Swelim: Bosnian Pyramid Of The Sun Is The World'S Largest". July 2007. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  37. ^ Swelim, Nabil (2007-09-17). "The pyramid hills" (PDF). Archeology. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  38. ^ Swelim, Nabil Mohamed Abdel. "VISOCICA ON THE BALANCE" (PDF). Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
Further reading

External links[edit]