Enquête sur les pyramides de Bosnie et quelques autres cas de pseudo-archéologie
Article published on 12 May 2007
Since Mr. Osmanagic made known his hypothesis about the "Bosnian Pyramids", almost two years ago, he has frequently been opposed by Bosnian scientists, archaeologists and geologists, supported by their European colleagues. These scientists have addressed various authorities (for instance a letter to UNESCO (en), or an open letter to Christian Schwarz-Schilling, High Representative in Bosnia), in order to warn them of the threats on the Bosnian heritage, and of the lack of scientific validity of Mr. Osmanagic’s thesis. In return, Mr. Osmanagic generally considers his opponents "cabinet" or "armchair" scientists ("foteljasi") who oppose him only because they feel threatened in their certainties, their intellectual orthodoxy, or even their careers. His attacks are generally quite soft, and he leaves to his supporters the use of much more violent attacks on various forums.
However it happens from time to time that Mr. Osmanagic or his Foundation use quite questionable means to try to bring discredit on their main opponents and critics, for instance by publishing on the official website this kind of text (bs), which is a disgusting attack, tainted with anti-intellectualism and misogyny, of the Bosnian archaeologists (they are never named, but one understands that Ms. Kujundzic-Veijzagic and Mr. Lovrenovic are particularly alluded to). The Foundation also published a private mail here (bs): they were trying to bring discredit on the Canadian archaeologist Chris Mundigler, who "joined", as many others, Mr. Osmanagic’s international team at the beginning of 2006, and later declared to Archaeology magazine (en) that he never participated in the project. The publication of this letter from Mr. Mundigler to Mr. Osmanagic - in fact a mere application for a job, as Mr. Mundigler probably sent tens of, following an announcement made by Mr. Osmanagic on the Archaeological Institute of America (en) web site - was supposed to be the proof that Mr. Mundigler was lying and that he had actually engaged in the project at a time. The most curious in this affair is that Mr. Mundigler’s mail, sent to Mr. Osmanagic’s personal email address, is published not by Mr. Osmanagic but by a "Mirza Avdicevic", whose only apparent link with the Foundation is that she donated (bs) to it. How is it that Ms. Avdicevic knows Mr. Osmanagic’s personal mail better than he does, and that she has to send him a letter that he is supposed to have already received?
There is also this text (bs) against the foreign scientists who dared to question the existence of the "pyramids": Professor Garrett Fagan (en) is accused of a lack of "professional integrity", Anthony Harding (en), President of the European Association of Archaeologists, of not knowing to use his eyes, as well as the geologist Robert Schoch (en), and the geologist Paul Heinrich (en) is invited to "go back to his school days" to learn how to use "the scientific methods". Indeed, this page gives us a great example of "integrity" from the Foundation: see how is presented Professor Curtis Runnels’ opinion (en) about the existence of a civilization having built the "pyramids" in Bosnia, then compare with what Professor Runnels actually said (en) to Archaeology magazine... Here is one of Mr. Osmanagic’s favourite tactics: you twist so much your opponent’s opinion that it is then very easy to disparage it!
What is the link between all of this and this article title? Well, this campaign aiming at bringing discredit on the sceptic scientists has become still more questionable these last days, with the publication on the Foundation official web site of a series of "interviews" of scientists. The first one was published on the 9th of January 2007, with Enver Imamovic (bs), historian in Sarajevo University; then, from the 5th of May, with one publication per day, followed the "interviews" of Zilka Kujundzic-Vejzagic (bs), archaeologist at the National Museum in Sarajevo; Anthony Harding (bs), of the European Association of Archaeologists (en); Dubravko Lovrenovic (bs), medievalist in Sarajevo University and member of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments; geologists Amir Barakovic (bs) and Elvir Babajic (bs), both from Tuzla University and among the authors of the Report on Visocica geology which concluded to a totally natural hill; and last of the geologist Stjepan Coric (bs), paleontologist in Vienna University - and maybe some others will follow, as the Foundation seems decided to publish one per day, and as their author, see below, pretends that she has made more than 300 of them ...
Except the one with Professor Harding, all of these interviews are made by the same woman, called Merima Bojic. Ms. Bojic appeared for the first time in July 2006 in the "pyramid affair" with an open letter (en), quite provocative, addressed to Mark Rose, head redactor at the magazine Archaeology, a letter that was published on the Foundation web site as well as on some forums. She is an American with Bosnian origins (like Mr. Osmanagic himself), and she introduces herself, in this letter as in the forum cyberbulevar (bs) where she used to post, as a student in history and political science in Los Angeles University, and insists on the fact that she has "absolutely no connection to Mr. Osmanagic, nor his organization". However, it was soon seen that she went to Visoko in September 2006, where she made a first interview (en), with Doctor Mohammed Ibrahim Aly, for the Foundation . According to Foresterius (bs), Merima Bojic claims having made more than 300 interviews, and that it was a project in the frame of her universitary work, supposed to be published on the University website. However, these "interviews" were not published on UCLA website, but rather on the Foundation one, and Merima Bojic is regularly called, on this website, "nasa saradnica", "our collaborator", or "our associate".
These texts are presented in the guise of real interviews: Professor Lovrenovic "gave an interview to our collaborator"; "within a series of interviews with the opponents to the project, our collaborator discussed with the geologist Barakovic", and so on. However one must wonder to which extent the "interviewed" ones knew whom they were talking to; and, if it seems they were informed that they were to be recorded, most probably none of them could guess that his or her words were to be published on the Foundation website. For instance Professor Lovrenovic actually thinks, during all the discussion, that he is talking to a journalist; on page 7, when he says "you, journalists, must write on this country", Merima Bojic corrects him, but saying she is a student, never that she is doing this as an Osmanagic’s "collaborator". And when he asks, page 7 again, where the interview will be published, she answers "on a web page". Dr Coric as well evidently thinks she is working "on a project", and even counsels her on how to obtain a better result with this project by trying to show less of her "subjective opinions". When Dr Babajic explains her they are not used to give interviews, she answers "but it is not an interview, professor ; it is just a phone conversation" . To make it short, these are purely unacceptable methods, that reveal a wish to snare the interviewed persons.
This wish equally appears in the methods used during the "interview": aggressive and provocative questions, questions that are often outside of the domain of expertise of the interlocutor (questions to the archaeologists on geology, and to the geologists on archaeology...), abrupt changes of subject or cuttings of the interlocutor’s speech. However, even if some of the interviewed people are sometimes quite upset and happen to answer in an approximate way, what these interviews chiefly reveal is the dishonesty, the self-conceit and, let’s say it, the apparent immeasurable stupidity of the interviewer.
Dishonesty: when Merima Bojic talks to Zilka Kujundzic-Vejzagic about the open letter to Christian Schwartz-Schilling (that the archaeologist signed without reading it thoroughly, being, she says, totally in trust with the colleagues who signed it), she lies about the content of this letter, claiming that in it is requested that all of Mr. Osmanagic’s excavations are stopped, and not only the ones near protected archaeological sites (see here the real content of this letter).
Self-conceit: again during the discussion with Zilka Kujundzic-Vejzagic, when the archaeologist explains quite kindly: "Don’t get angered, but I do not wish to discuss this with someone who is not a specialist", Ms. Bojic answers: "I am not a specialist; and you, are you a specialist?"
Stupidity: to Enver Imamovic who tries to explain her that Visoko region has known mining during prehistoric, roman and medieval times, she answers "we know that the gold pits never existed there, nor any mining pits of copper, or the iron, etc., so why are you talking about such things?" And when her interlocutor, quite dumbfounded - one would be with less - asks "How come that you are claiming that they never existed?", the answer is "No, no.... I saw that"...
In each interview Merima Bojic peremptorily affirms the same stupidities, the same untruths that come straight from the Foundation propaganda. She questions the geologists about the Tuzla University geological report without having read this report, and without even trying to acquire a basic knowledge of the region geology; and it is the same on all the subjects that she evokes ("pavements" and "mosaics" on Pljesevica, stone spheres, "concrete blocks" on Visocica, chronology of prehistory and so on), even though she was given, for instance on the forum cyberbulevar by Foresterius (who used the pseudo Sturmann), all the necessary links that she could read a little and avoid the most stupid questions. I will not, however, conclude that Ms. Bojic is a poor result of the American universitary system, as all of this could as well be the result of an intentional tactic (it is much more difficult to answer stupid questions than intelligent ones).
What makes still more important the disgust one feels in front of these manipulations is the way these "interviews" are presented on the Foundation website: untrue titles, insulting commentaries. For instance Professor Lovrenovic’s interview has been given, for a title, a sentence isolated from its context with the evident aim to question his patriotism. In Dr Harding’s case is also used as title one of his sentences, saying that "Imamovic is not professor nor archaeologist"; when it is evident, reading the interview, that Anthony Harding was talking at that moment of Mr. Osmanagic himself, who actually is neither professor nor archaeologist . But it matters little to the Foundation that there could be a confusion, as long as they can use it to try to sow discord between Mr. Osmanagic’s opponents, and to bring discredit on Dr Harding: "This interview shows his arrogance and lack of the manners".
Well, what the publication of this series of interviews clearly shows is that Mr. Osmanagic and his team are not really hampered by honesty and integrity...
Update, 12th of June 2007
One of the "interviewed" persons, geologist Elvir Babajic from Tuzla University, reacted to the publication of his "interview" in a letter published on geolog-mrak’s blog (bs). This letter totally confirms the things I suspected above: Merima Bojic presented herself as a young American student, never mentioning her links with Mr. Osmanagic’s Foundation; the "interview" ought to be, according to Ms. Bojc, a short phone discussion, not intended for publication; Mr. Babajic never gave an authorization for the publication of this discussion, of which, what is more, are given only extracts...
 It seems that the English versions of these interviews have disappeared from the website, copy of some of them above...
 This interview has disappeared from the website, copy above.
 This answer by Ms. Bojic, which is still visible in the Bosnian version of the interview, was absent in the English version published a few days later... that disappeared on the beginning of June. On another subject, the English translations are usually quite awful on the official site, but this one was particularly special : the "concretions" (talking of the stone spheres) had become "secretions" !!!
 As Mr. Harding was talking of the lack of serious of the Foundation website, saying that "these people are crack-pots", the interviewer - who is not, for once, Merima Bojic, but who could be her twin sister - abruptly changes the subject and asks what he thinks of Professor Imamovic; it is more than probable that he heard "Professor Osmanagic", what is more as the interview was made by phone, and as the Bosnian names can sound quite similar to an anglo-saxon ear. In any case, the "journalist" takes care not to repeat the name, and soon changes again the subject, not even trying to obtain a confirmation of this surprising comment...
I pray the excellent Miranda Richardson not te be upset that I used her image in this article: she has of course absolutely nothing in common with the pseudo-journalistic methods here described, but her avatar Rita Skeeter has :-)