The Bosnian Pyramid threatens to spread

Bosnia's Pyramid Scheme
Bosnia’s Pyramid Scheme. Photo (cc) Blandm.

I haven’t pos­ted much on the pyramania in Bosnia since September. Still a trickle of com­ments and com­plaints con­tinue to come in. There’s a small num­ber of people who insist that Osmanagić should be allowed to do what he likes and any evid­ence that he’s incom­pet­ent or plain wrong should be ignored. Reports by archae­olo­gists from the EAA? The ‘experts’ (never for­get the scare­quotes) don’t know everything. Bosnian Geologists con­clude the hill is nat­ural. Ignore them, the ‘experts’ don’t know everything. Robert Schoch, a geo­lo­gist admired by the altern­at­ive archae­ology com­munity has examined the site, includ­ing the the tun­nels, and has said it’s nat­ural. Ignore him, the ‘experts’ don’t know everything. The refusal to accept any evid­ence which con­tra­dicts their wishes is known by believ­ers as keep­ing an open mind.

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is non­sense. The prob­lem for the Bosnian Pyramid Foundation is that people have kept an open mind and listened to what they’ve said. If someone can’t use a tape meas­ure tell if a pyr­amid is 70m high or 220m high, why should they be cap­able of an archae­olo­gical exacava­tion? It’s not all about dig­ging, you need to be able to use a tape meas­ure to tell where you’re dig­ging. So if you were in Osmanagić’s pos­i­tion, how would you cred­ibly ignore the over­whelm­ing evid­ence against you? It’s a prob­lem, espe­cially when the fiercest critic of Osmanagić is, acci­dent­ally Osmanagić.

The com­mon por­trayal by Osmanagić’s found­a­tion is that this is Bosnia versus the sci­entific estab­lish­ment. This has never been the case. From the earli­est days Bosnian archae­olo­gists, his­tor­i­ans and geo­lo­gists were say­ing the claims were false. Understandably Bosnia’s aca­demic infra­struc­ture is still under­fun­ded fol­low­ing the war. Osmanagić in con­trast is flush with for­eign money.

The prob­lem threatens to spread. Stultitia has kindly sent me a let­ter from the Sarajevo paper Oslobodjenje, which you can read a trans­la­tion of below. Now that Osmanagić has shown that money can pur­chase the right to play archae­olo­gist oth­ers are being attrac­ted to Bosnia. It now seems that Troy has been dis­covered in Bosnia by a Mexican busi­ness­man. This could be bad news for Gabela, a site dat­ing from the Middle Ages, which sur­vived the war but may have to go if Troy is to be found. There’s employ­ment and the pro­spect of tour­ists, so is it pedantic to quibble about the lack of evidence?

Bosnian his­tor­i­ans, archae­olo­gists and geo­lo­gists don’t think so. Despite the claims of Osmanagić, pub­lished geo­lo­gical reports have con­cluded that the ‘pyr­am­ids’ are nat­ural. Not just out­siders, Bosnian geo­lo­gists famil­iar with the region have also con­cluded the hills are nat­ural. Bosnian his­tor­i­ans and Bosnian archae­olo­gists are also against this pro­ject. This isn’t Bosnia versus the world, it’s one busi­ness man versus Bosnia’s heritage.

If it was presen­ted as a fantasy, then I’d say that Osmanagić has the right to demol­ish any­thing in Bosnia if the cit­izens let him. I wouldn’t think it was a good idea, but I can’t force my demands on another demo­cratic coun­try. What I dis­agree with is the present­a­tion of Osmanagić’s work as any­thing approach­ing sound sci­ence. This is decep­tion and rather than a new future Osmanagić is selling fairy gold. This pyr­amid will not be accep­ted by for­eign aca­dem­ics nor, as the let­ter below makes clear, will it be accep­ted by Bosnian aca­dem­ics.
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Why Open Access is important


[Cross-posted to Revise & Dissent]

While wait­ing for the pho­to­copier on Wednesday I picked up Garrett Fagan’s art­icle on pseudoar­chae­ology in Archaeology Magazine from a couple of years back. I’ve read with interest Cornelius Holtorf’s paper on Alternative Archaeologies (free ver­sion is alas off­line, but you can read dis­cus­sion about the paper at Graham Hancock’s site) and Katherine Reese’s book chapter from the per­spect­ive of a former believer. There’s a range of views, but one factor I think they’d all agree on is that there is a need to make inform­a­tion avail­able. Reese’s own response was to set up the In the Hall of Ma’at web­site, which Archaeology repor­ted.

I think the Bosnian Pyramid saga is an excel­lent example of what hap­pens when inform­a­tion isn’t access­ible. Here’s a quote from Osmanagic.

The civil­iz­a­tions did not migrate from Middle and West Europe, but from here toward them.

He is right.

On pyr­am­ids, ali­ens and whether experts he named com­ing to his site had been sent by Zahi Hawass or even been to Bosnia, he’s wrong, but the claim that places like Bosnia are hugely import­ant to European pre­his­tory is abso­lutely right. This is why many archae­olo­gists are hor­ri­fied that he’s dig­ging the site and the way he’s doing it. The idea that south-eastern Europe was the cul­tural and tech­no­lo­gical engine of Europe really isn’t dis­puted. It’s writ­ten in the land­scape at places like Karanovo below.

Tell at Karanovo. Photo by kind per­mis­sion of Raluca.

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More Bosnian Trigonometry


You can read an over­iew of some of the other flaws in the Bosnian Pyramid saga at Revise and Dissent in the post­ing Bosnian Pyramids: Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Atlantis

Thanks, if that’s the right word, go to Doug Weller for passing along a bet­ter map of the equi­lat­eral tri­angle con­nect­ing the peaks of the Bosnian pyr­am­ids. It turns out that Bosnianpyramids​.com is not an offi­cial site, so my meas­ure­ments based on that don’t neces­sar­ily dis­prove the claim that the peaks of the pyr­am­ids mark the ver­tices of a tri­angle with “not one minute dif­fer­ence”. So I’ve looked at this map.


What I’m inter­ested in is whether or not there are three equal angles. The easi­est way for me to check is to meas­ure the lengths of the sides and cal­cu­late from there. What I’ve done is put the map into Google Earth, placed it over the ocean, to ensure I’m meas­ur­ing it flat and meas­ured the three sides. The lengths of the sides will not be accur­ate, but their rel­at­ive lengths will because their lengths will all be out by the same factor.


Measuring the three sides I get:
Sun — Moon : 2563
Moon — Dragon : 2638
Dragon — Sun : 2598
If you click on the pho­tos you’ll see those meas­ure­ments are metres, but in real­ity that’s mis­lead­ing because the over­lay is almost cer­tainly not scaled cor­rectly. It’s just the rel­at­ive lengths that mat­ter because the ver­tical and hori­zontal scal­ing will be out by the same factor.

You can work out the angles in degrees for the tri­angle through the Cosine Rule which will work because it’s inde­pend­ent of units. Alternatively you could use the Triangle Calculator which does the same thing with much less effort. Using this I get angles (con­ver­ted from decimal degrees to degrees and minutes):

Sun: 61º 29′
Moon: 59º 55′
Dragon: 58º 37′

Is that an equi­lat­eral tri­angle?
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Is reality the second best option?


Puma over Visoko
A British Puma flies over Visoko. Photo by Torbein.

I wasn’t too sur­prised by some of the responses to the Bosnian Pyramid posts, though the quant­ity was high. One reason for not writ­ing more on it was the sheer num­ber of vis­it­ors. I’ve had to pay for increased band­width which I can’t really afford to do again. There were a few people that noted I was an idiot, which told me noth­ing I didn’t know already, but no flaws in my reas­on­ing. I assume that means that every­one accepts that the press releases com­ing out from Visoko are so non­sensical even an idiot can spot the errors. Therefore if you want to archae­olo­gic­ally exam­ine the hill to find out what happened there in the past then the dig is prob­ably a bad idea. There are lots of import­ant things on the site and Osmanagić doesn’t seem to be aware of the prob­lems he has record­ing it. Or else doesn’t care. But is the dig really about find­ing his­tory or cre­at­ing myth?

And if it’s not a pyr­amid, then we make one,” said a man from Visoko after we asked him what he thinks of the pyr­amid shaped hill.

Nearby, the man­ager of a food fact­ory was flog­ging “Bosnian Sun Pyramid” pralines. Hawkers sold hast­ily prin­ted T-shirts and brandy in pyramid-shaped bottles while crafts­men turned out pyr­amid souven­irs. Retiree Rasim Kilalic turned his week­end home near the dig into a café. “Please God, let them find a pyr­amid,” he said, rush­ing to serve crowded tables.

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Introducing the Pyramid of Doom


I've discovered a new Bosnian Pyramid!

While research­ing to write some­thing pos­it­ive for the Wikipedia entry on the Bosnian Pyramids (I did the Currently Osmanagić states… to …for future gen­er­a­tions bit) I noticed some­thing a bit odd about the map. I wondered if I’d cal­cu­lated the lengths of the wrong tri­angle. It seems I have made a simple mistake.

The cal­cu­la­tion was based on the three pyr­am­ids marked in orange. These three pyr­am­ids come close to mak­ing an equi­lat­eral tri­angle, though with nowhere near the pre­ci­sion claimed by the Bosnian Geodetic Institute. I got these mark­ers from www​.bos​ni​an​pyr​amid​.com and you can down­load them from there to check this for your­self with your own copy of Google Earth. I thought these were the loc­a­tions of the pyr­am­ids and, if you look the map shown at BosnianPyramids​.org shows these are the three loc­a­tions meas­ured. This blog post would also sug­gest that the Pyramid of Dragon is iden­ti­fied cor­rectly as it places the pyr­amid on Bucki gaj.

If you look closely then you can see there’s a ridge between the Pyramids of the Moon and the Dragon. I’ve marked the end of that ridge with the label Bosnian Pyramid of Doom, and >you can down­load the Google Earth book­mark to see it for your­self in 3D (alas lost in the move). Is it high enough to block a line of site between the pyr­am­ids of the Moon and the Dragon? No.

But is is a prob­lem. The Pyramid of Doom is on the end of this long ridge. The pyr­amid of the Dragon is dis­tinct­ively on its own hill. So how do you make sense of this dia­gram at Wikipedia, which is used by the offi­cial site? I made the mis­take of assum­ing that the Pyramid of the Dragon, being under a large hill, was sta­tion­ary. It looks like Osmanagić has dis­covered the world’s first mobile monu­mental pre­his­toric pyramid*.

What hap­pens to the tri­angle if you use the Pyramid of Doom pos­i­tion as the third ver­tex? Then the Moon — Doom baseline is far, far too short to make an equi­lat­eral tri­angle. It’s not even remotely close, which again sug­gests that Bucki gaj is the Pyramid of Dragon. It does leave the prob­lem of an imposter pyr­amid on the offi­cial guides though.

Next week it’s the Bosnian Pyramid of the Molehill — and I’m not sure if I’m jok­ing yet.

*This would explain how the Bosnian pyr­am­ids got to Egypt and Mexico. In one stroke the lack of Bosnian arte­facts is explained as they were built in Visoko and then moved to their new loc­a­tions. We also now know why the Egyptian pyr­am­ids were smal­ler. You wouldn’t want to move a lar­ger pyr­amid would you? The Mexican pyr­am­ids were even smal­ler, but then they had fur­ther to go.

Trigonometry and Pyramids


Ravnatelj raises an inter­est­ing ques­tion about my meas­ure­ments of the equi­lat­eral tri­angle. I’ve meas­ured the tops as though they’re on a plane rather than in 3D space. Does that make a dif­fer­ence? It might. It’s a planar prob­lem because there are only three points but the plane is inclined to the hori­zontal and that could make a difference.


There’s prob­ably an eleg­ant way to find out, but I’ve used plain num­ber crunch­ing. Using the map sup­plied from the offi­cial site, I can see that the Pyramid of the Dragon and the Pyramid of the Moon are both, to within a few metres 660 metres above sea level. So by meas­ur­ing that dis­tance that gives me the length of the side of the tri­angle, which is about 2,250 metres.
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Final thoughts on the Bosnian pyramid


As it turned out this was a dread­ful title as it just ran and ran and ran…

Possibly not my last ever thoughts, but the only reason I wrote my first post on the sub­ject was that I found the mass accept­ance of what is eas­ily checked non­sense mildly amus­ing. If some­thing endear­ingly bark­ing comes out of Visoko then I may laugh again but my in depth ana­lysis (The sim­il­ar­ity between the Pyramids of the Sun is that the pointy bit is at the top, see below also) is about as excited I can get about it. There is a dark irony to that a coun­try whose her­it­age sites were tar­geted in an eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paign has decided to fin­ish off the job with one of their major sites, but it’s not that amus­ing. On the whole it’s rather dull and I’m sorry to dis­ap­point Billy Rae but I’m not filled with enthu­si­asm to write a com­pre­hens­ive debunk­ing of the site, tak­ing each fact line by line because it’s obvi­ous that Osmanagić isn’t inter­ested in facts. Here are a col­lec­tion of thoughts which might explain why I’m not moved to keep more of an eye on the topic.

Osmanagić is mak­ing claims which he has no evid­ence for

I was going to talk about the align­ments of Mayan pyr­am­ids. This was because one of the reas­ons we ‘know’ the Bosnian pyr­amid is a pyr­amid is because it’s aligned in the car­dinal dir­ec­tions. The reason it’s called the Pyramid of the Sun is that it looks like the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. So I fired up Google Earth to take a look at Teotihuacan.

The Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, in Google Earth

Well that’s not car­din­ally aligned.
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