One of the most fun gigs I have right now (next to getting to be a guest blogger on BB!) is working with the good people at Coverleaf, who produce digital editions of magazines. As part of my role there I get to read many magazine articles that I might not otherwise take the time to seek out, like this fascinating piece from the latest issue of Discover about a controversial archaeologist who says he's discovered massive ancient pyramids buried in some Bosnian hills. The image above is of one of these pyramid-shaped hills outside the small city of Visoko.
Pyramid Scheme by John Bohannon has a clearly skeptical take on Sam Osmanagich's bold claims that he has discovered the first-ever ancient pyramid in Europe and the largest valley of pyramids in existence. But Osmanagich is portrayed as a sort of national hero in Bosnia, and has apparently secured a great deal of government financing for his pyramid excavation project. Bohannon repeatedly tries to interview Osmanagich, including about his published claims of supernatural phenomena associated with the pyramids, but never is able to really pin him down. Osmanagich has been pursuing his excavation project and visions of national archaeological parks for several years, and it sounds like he has a significant following in Bosnia, but this is the first I had ever heard of any of this.
One crucial question seems to be whether flat plates of rock found at the dig site are handmade evidence of past civilizations or simply the natural remains of a 7-million-year-old lake bed. Wikipedia's not buying it, and frankly it all sounds pretty sketchy to me too. But clearly Osmanagich has convinced a lot of people that there's something to his pyramid theory.
There's some interesting clips on YouTube, like Osmanagich reflecting on the project, an enthusiastic ABC news story from 2007, what looks like a pretty large festival celebrating the start of last year's archaeological season at Visoko, and even a rap video of the "Bosnian Pyramid Community on the road."
The discussions I've read online about this seem to have fairly equal amounts of pyramid-believers and skeptics. I've been very impressed at the expertise that crops up in the comments section here, so I'm betting there are Boingers out there who can help me sort this one out. Is Osmanagich a rogue archaeologist who's seen a few too many Indiana Jones movies, or he is on to something with these pointy hills?
(Disclosure: I work on Coverleaf, the service that provides the digital edition of Discover and many other magazines.)