Bosnia "Pyramid" Is Not Human-Made, U.K. Expert Says
for National Geographic News
|June 13, 2006|
A war of words continues to rage over the alleged discovery of an ancient pyramid in Bosnia.
Bosnian-American pyramid buff Semir "Sam" Osmanagic claims a four-sided hill in the town of Visoko is Europe's first known pyramid, larger than any ever built in Egypt.
But in the latest salvo in this battle, the president of the European Association of Archaeologists said on Friday that he had visited the 700-foot (213-meter) hill and saw no evidence that it was human-made.
Speaking at a press conference in Sarajevo, Anthony Harding told reporters the pyramid-shaped hill was a natural phenomenon.
"My opinion and the opinion of my colleagues is what we saw was entirely geological in nature," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
"Further work of the same kind would simply produce the same results. I don't think it would change any view about what the nature of the hill is," he said.
Harding, an archaeology professor at England's University of Exeter, visited Visoko, 18 miles (30 kilometers) from Sarajevo, on Thursday.
(See a map of Bosnia and Herzegovina.)
In April 2006 the Houston-based Osmanagic and a mostly volunteer crew began limited excavations in the area and drilled exploratory wells.
The team uncovered what they describe as large stone blocks shaped by human hands and a network of tunnels fronted by a wide, paved entranceway.
Osmanagic has speculated that Illyriansancient ancestors of today's Albanianscould have built the alleged pyramid perhaps as early as 12,000 years ago during the last ice age.
Last month Osmanagic told National Geographic News that he was "100 percent convinced" that the pyramid was real.
Those claims have drawn near unanimous contempt from professional archaeologists.
Harding, an expert on Bronze Age Europe, has dismissed Osmanagic's theories as "wacky" and "absurd."
Balkan prehistory expert Curtis Runnels, an archaeologist at Boston University and editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology, joins the chorus of skeptics.
"Mr. Osmangic offers no concrete physical evidence to support his claims, despite the fact that they are fantastic," he said.
"[T]he area was in fact occupied by Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers with a Stone Age technology sufficient for building fires, tents, and simple hunting implements like bows and arrows."
"They were not pyramid builders."
In another recent twist, wire reports quoted Aly Abd Alla Barakat, a geologist with the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority.
Barakat, who visited the hill at the behest of Osmanagic's team, told the Associated Press late last week, "My opinion is that this is a type of pyramid, probably a primitive pyramid."
To the AFP, he said: "The white stuff I found between the blocks could be a glue. It is very similar to that we have found in the Giza pyramids."
Critics remain unswayed, and some have questioned Barakat's expertise.
Of the alleged Bosnian pyramid, the European Association of Archaeology's Harding said, "You'd be surprised how many natural stone formations can look as if they are man-made."
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