Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/12/26/bosnian_pyramids/

Ancient pyramids discovered in Bosnia

Natural or man-made?

By Mark Whitehorn

Posted in Science, 26th December 2006 10:02 GMT

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the sole survivor of the Seven Wonders of the World. An Arab proverb says that: "Man fears time, yet time fears the Pyramids", a reference to the fact that the pyramid has survived for about 4,500 years and, in that time, has lost a mere 10 metres off its incredible 145 metre height.

Composed of two million blocks of stone, each weighing more than two tonnes, this was not erected by George Wimpey and Co in a fortnight. For approximately 43 centuries it was the world's tallest man-made structure.

Or so we thought. Reports are emerging from Bosnia-Herzegovina of structures that make the pyramid of Giza look like a scale model (see http://www.bosnianpyramids.org/, http://www.bosnianpyramid.com/, and http://www.bosnian-pyramid.com/).

At 267 metres tall, the Pyramid of the Sun blows the Egyptian opposition into the weeds. If that wasn't enough, it is simply one of a number of pyramids located in the same region - there are also the Pyramids of the Sun, the Dragon and, most recently discovered, Love.

These revelations are not simply about who has the biggest bragging rights for historic civil engineering projects. Structures like these take colossal man power to create – estimates for a single Egyptian pyramid run into tens of millions of man hours.

Such a workforce means, in turn, huge logistical organisation – land cultivation, food transport, housing, water, waste disposal etc. The simple existence of these gigantic man-made structures in Europe means the entire history of the development of human civilization will have to be rewritten with Bosnia-Herzegovina at its centre.

All of which appears to be just fine by Semir Osmanagić who is at the centre of these discoveries. He is referred to on bosnianpyramid.com as "Bosnia's Indiana Jones" which is either a reference to the hat and boots that he affects or his extraordinary archaeological discoveries. Not a man who appears to eschew modesty, he is quoted as saying: "My discovery will change human history".

As might be imagined, this is a very big deal in Bosnia-Herzegovina where it forms the focus of a nightly reality TV show. We strongly recommend that you visit the web sites and that you examine the other evidence that is accumulating daily on the web, such as this video, where you can see, and weigh, for yourself the evidence that this is a man-made structure.

Of course, the cynical sceptics amongst you may feel that claims like these are so fantastic as to be unbelievable, but that is not the case. We believe the reason the claims are unbelievable is more simple; they are wrong.

How can we be so sure? We have been talking to Professor John Parker of Cambridge University, the director of the Botanic Garden and also Professor of Botany at St Catharine's College. He's actually travelled there and seen the evidence first hand.

El Reg: How did you come to visit the site?

Professor Parker: I visited the site in August this year as part of a visit to Sarajevo with one of the professors there. My colleague in Sarajevo invited me to come and see this phenomenon so we made our way to the site and climbed to the top of one of the hills which was being referred to as the Pyramid of the Sun. As we climbed the hill we passed, as you would expect, Nefertiti's café and stalls selling little models of the pyramids. I must admit I began to wonder where we were.

The top of the hill was being cleared and they were digging away the surface to the depth of about a metre, exposing what looked for all the world like concrete spilling down the slopes of the hill. These inclined, flat sheets consisted of aggregate in a matrix and I gathered that these were being put forward as a man-made phenomenon. It was quite impressive: large slabs, some of them up to 50 or 60 metres long. It was explained to me as man-made concrete that had been cast as slabs with shuttering between them. This is exactly the way in which, today, we cover large areas with concrete. We use shuttering to limit the size of the slabs and the spaces left when the shuttering is removed allow for expansion.

So, having seen that, we went across the valley to the Pyramid of the Moon, a slightly lower hill, and again we went through a mass of little stalls selling this time, Mayan step pyramid models.

In contrast to the Pyramid of the Sun, where the slabs of concrete lie parallel to the side of the hill, the material that makes up the Pyramid of the Moon lies in horizontal sheets. The flat sheets of exposed material have a sort of ripple effect on the top and the whole surface broken by regular lines into what looks like crazy paving with most of the fracture lines of the crazy paving roughly parallel to each other. It is broken up into rough rectangular blocks but laid so closely together that they look just as if they have been laid by human hand.

El Reg: But you weren't convinced?

Professor Parker: Well, no, because I'd seen this kind of thing before. It is a perfect example of a fossilised beach, essentially little mud ripples on a beach which then becomes fossilised. What they were doing was cutting into the hillside to expose this beautiful raised beach.

As you looked at the profile that they had cut you saw the layers above it and every time they came to a slightly harder layer that showed that phenomenon, so they exposed it back. They were cutting the side of the hill into a series of steps, each one about a metre and a half or two meters. Hence the Pyramid of the Moon is described a stepped pyramid, as opposed to the Pyramid of the Sun where the sides are flat.

El Reg: So, what about the "concrete" on the Pyramid of the Sun?

Professor Parker: It is a natural material. When you looked at the whole site there was a very turbulent river which came down (and they are really turbulent in Bosnia) which had cut a deep valley through the mainly limestone area in which we found ourselves. However, the river rises in the mountains to the West which are mainly acidic. So the "concrete" is made of the embedded stones that were washed down from the acidic mountains deposited in an alkaline substrate.

El Reg: What about the marks of the shuttering?

Professor Parker: As the conglomerate formed and then subsequently cracked, the cracks were filled in with calcite which would be crystallised from the calcium carbonate and dolomite which makes up the matrix. If you looked at the cracks between the slabs carefully – and this is what told me straight away that it was natural – you could see that individual stones that were embedded in the matrix were shattered through.

In other words, you regularly find single stones, embedded in two slabs, cut neatly through by the "shuttering" lines. It seems highly unlikely that human beings would split stones and place the two halves neatly on either side of a piece of shuttering. But natural cracks will run through both the stones and the matrix. So the cracks are clearly a post-construction phenomenon, not a pre-construction one.

El Reg: Ok, that explains the materials found on the two hills, but how did it get there in the first place?

Professor Parker: Remember that turbulent river. You've got the aggregate which came from the acidic mountains and it came down into a calcareous lake where the big stones had settled out with the calcareous substrate to make the aggregate on one side of the valley. That explains the "concrete". On the other side of the valley the mud was left and was depositing out as beaches which were obviously a drying lake surface and I should think alternately wetting and drying. It was quite obvious that it was part of one kind of system, probably a delta type system.

Geologically it was absolutely fascinating. I've never seen a better example of this. At the same time one of my colleagues, Dr Mary Edmunds, found the most perfect fossils in the material they'd excavated on the Pyramid of the Moon. They were simply beautiful – you broke open every piece of this supposedly man-made material and inside were things like pine seeds perfectly preserved with their wings so you could even identify the species of pine – Pinus nigra that grows there still – and also birch leaves: it was full of just wonderful sub-fossil material. That alone told us that it was clearly a post-glacial phenomenon, relatively recent – less than 12,000 years old.

El Reg: So, if the "concrete" is natural, and formed in a lake, why is it now at such an angle, forming the sloping sides of a hill?

Professor Parker: The way I was thinking about the conglomerate – why it looked like a triangle – was that if you think about the river constantly undermining soft substrate with a hard crust it becomes rather like a crème brulée. As soon as you take away the cream from below there's nothing to hold the upper material and it will collapse, and of course it will tend to shatter, if it is a flat plate, into triangular slabs. I think what you'd got is this material shattered into one of these triangular slabs which gives you the triangular shape and when you excavate it of course the conglomerate is now facing down the hill.

El Reg: So, the site is worthless?

Professor Parker: Absolutely not. I spent considerable time looking at the fossils because I've never seen any so good from a post-glacial site. It's very sad because you could have got the most detailed and intimate knowledge of the changes in vegetation patterns from the post-glacial era. It is so clearly a natural phenomenon that it should be investigated as a natural phenomenon rather than being shrouded in all this magic and mystery.

I am worried about it because the Bosnian people deserve better than this. They are a wonderful people who have suffered so much. In this site they have a fabulous natural phenomenon and the danger is that the people and the country could become a laughing stock if the site continues to be interpreted in this way. ®