for National Geographic News
He's been called a Balkan Indiana Jones. Others label him a dreamer, or worse, a pyramid buff with loony ideas.
Despite his critics (and he has many) Semir "Sam" Osmanagic believes he's discovered the find of a lifetimea series of ancient pyramids in the heart of Bosnia.
If the Bosnian-American businessman is correct, the structures would be the first known step pyramids in Europe.
"I am 100 percent sure. There is no other option," the Houston, Texas-based Osmanagic said.
At the heart of Osmanagic's belief is Visocica hill, an undeniably pyramid-shaped mound near the town of Visoko, 18 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Sarajevo (see a Bosnia and Herzegovina map).
Visoko, the former medieval capital of Bosnia, cradles a rich history, including Roman and Illyrian ruins and countless Neolithic artifacts.
"Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun"
Last month Osmanagic and his team began sinking a series of wells into the 700-foot-tall (213-meter-tall) hill, which Osmanagic renamed the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun.
The kick-off was observed by a clutch of onlookers, journalists, andin what may be a first for such endeavorscontestants from the Miss Bosnia beauty pageant.
So far a mixed crew of volunteers and hired help has unearthed a network of tunnels along with what Osmanagic describes as ancient mortar and sandstone blocks shaped by human hands.
(See a related news photo: "Pyramid Discovered in Bosnia?").
He says the pyramid is at least 2,500 years old and may even date to the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago.
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