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The Bosnian Discoveries: Great Pyramids or Mountains out of Molehills?

Archaeology is one of Kelley's great passions. He's read many books on the subject, as well as every issue of "Archaeology" since 1987.

Is this a pyramid or just a pyramid-shaped hill?

Is this a pyramid or just a pyramid-shaped hill?

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.

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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!

Please leave a comment.

Semir Osmanagich

Semir Osmanagich

Visocica hill with town of Visoko in foreground

Visocica hill with town of Visoko in foreground

Pathway near a hill or pyramid

Pathway near a hill or pyramid

Construction of temporary office at the site

Construction of temporary office at the site

Flooded tunnel beneath one of the pyramid-shaped mountains

Flooded tunnel beneath one of the pyramid-shaped mountains

Osmanagich (center) ankle deep in tunnel water

Osmanagich (center) ankle deep in tunnel water

Are these paving stones or carefully cut rocks?

Are these paving stones or carefully cut rocks?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Kelley Marks


Snake oil and tin foil on November 23, 2016:

I would say that one very important red flag is the various far fetching claims made.

An actual scientist or archaeologist would have been satisfied to claim that these "might be pyramids" and that "further investigations are necessary". They would not move on to claim they knew why they were build without even investigating the area and finding fairly substantial data to force the to revise the basic theory that this would be just another pyramid.

But on the other hand, scientists these days are often misquoted because sensible "maybes" do not sell as much as wild click bait claims.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 16, 2012:

Hey, Mark, I can't make it to Bosnia any time soon, so I'll have to rely on scientific research, and as far as I can tell there's no proof those "landforms" are pyramids. Just because artifacts have been found in the area doesn't mean these pyramid-shaped hills are manmade. When "Archaeology" magazine says they're pyramids, I'll believe your claim; otherwise, no way Jose. Later!

Mark on July 14, 2012:

Well Cosmo, you might be about to lose your house because the physical evidence uncovered in Bosnia is overwhelming. Roads, tunnels, pottery, walled structures, writing, stone carvings and many more discoveries continue to be made in Bosnia almost weekly. The structures themselves are simply incredible and are the largest pyramids in the world. So the cat is out of the bag so to speak, you might want to maybe join in spread the word. or better yet, go to Bosnia and see it with your own eyes. I have.

katesisco on January 27, 2012:

Please consider that our solar system undergoes a 5,000 y periodic cycle of compression and expansion. The expansion seems to have not occurred 5,000 y ago. Hence the 'cleansing' of the Bosnia pyramids was not necessary for the 5,000 y cohort of geniuses optimized by heliospheric compression. My knol:

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 15, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Brian Weekes. About your mud bricks, many structures, even pyramids, made of mud bricks have lasted - in some fashion - for many centuries. So, keep building, though next time try some limestone blocks instead. Ha! Later!

Brian Weekes from Queensland, Australia on November 15, 2011:

A very interesting Hub. When I was a kid I wanted to build a colossos and call it the Colossus of Wilmot. Of course it was to be made out of mud bricks, which was about all the building materials I would have available in large quantities as a kid, so I guess it would not have remained standing for long once it rained.

Hector Herrera from Dominican Republic on February 10, 2011:

This is an amazing hub.

cambones on August 20, 2010:

o.k. maybe,.......ehh. there arr still plenty of other odd intrigues and anomolies in the world, ones that have had actuall evidence for a long tym. this one is of little concern to me.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 12, 2009:

Thanks for the comments. I doubt those hills are pyramids; in fact, I'd bet my house on it. So, Sufidreamer, you want more research. I actually did quite a bit, but the article is on the short side, so I may add more material at some point, particularly if I find some relevant material in the latest "Archaeology" magazine. Later!

Sufidreamer from Sparti, Greece on December 12, 2009:

Interesting Hub,

I reserve judgment at the moment - we have the pyramid-shaped Mount Taygetos/Profitis Ilias here and it is a completely natural phenomenon.

I would love to see more research, though...:)

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on December 11, 2009:

Georgiakevin is right. Hope they do turn out to be pyramids though. Interesting Hub.

Georgiakevin from Central Georgia on December 11, 2009:

Great hub! Even if the proves put to be a natural occurrence Semir has brought intrigue in a part of the world that not many people know about which is a good thing!

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