How the Bosnian scientific institutions see Mr. Osmanagic's project - [Le site d'Irna]

How the Bosnian scientific institutions see Mr. Osmanagic’s project

Article published on 16 May 2007

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The reader probably remembers (see this article) that Mr. Osmanagic’s Foundation appears to have this year - contrary to the year 2006 - some difficulties in obtaining the necessary excavation permits in order to pursue their project. It seems that the responsible federal authorities, that is the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Physical Planning, have this year decided to ask for the opinions of various scientific authorities about Mr. Osmanagic’s projects. I have already mentioned the very negative opinion of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments that, in its mail (bs) to the Minister of Physical Planning, considers that the delivery of an excavation permit on Visocica to the Foundation would be an infringement of the law.

These last days, on "geolog-mrak (bs)"’s web site [1], are published scans of two other mails, both addressed to the Minister of Culture, Mr. Gavrilo Grahovac.

géologues de l’Université de Tuzla
geologists from Tuzla University

The first one (bs) is written by the team of geologists from Tuzla University leaded by Professor Sejfuding Vrabac, explains that the said team concluded in 2006 in favour of the natural origin of Visocica hill and recommands that, as "the geological facts are not taken into account" in the project, all support should be withdrawn from it.

Zemaljski Muzej page 1
Zemaljski Muzej page 2
Zemaljski Muzej page 3
Zemaljski Muzej page 4
Zemaljski Muzej page 5

The second mail (bs), much longer, is written by five archaeologists (among whom Ms. Zilka Kujundzic-Vejzagic), a mineralogist, a paleontologist and a petrographist, all members of the team of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zemaljski Muzej (en)) in Sarajevo. These scientists are not very fond of Mr. Osmanagic’s team: they mention the "arrogance" and "maliciousness" of the responsible persons, their total ignorance of the standard protocols for archaeological excavations and the destructive consequences of them, and consider that "the available report [2] in itself would be, in any civilized State, argument enough to put an end immediately to the Foundation activities, on the places mentioned on the list of protected National Monuments as well as on every potential archaeological place".

One can learn also in this mail that a team of the Museum archaeologists have visited the site on the 16th of April 2007, and that they were forbidden, by Mario Gerusi (Mr. Osmanagic’s relative, and executive director of the Foundation), to visit the ongoing excavations in Vratnica; and they were not allowed to see and study the "artifacts" found by the Foundation team (the "cow", the "dragon", the "proto-script"...).

The National Museum scientists mention a list of worrying subjects:
- the Foundation claims to an interest in archaeology and heritage "protection" on the whole country;
- its seeming interest for the "conservation" of Old Town Visoki, that the scientists consider as "pseudo-project" in which they decline any participation (see here my comments on this new "project");
- the interferences of the cantonal authorities (of Zenica-Doboj county, who always strongly supported Mr. Osmanagic), who allowed the deliverance of excavation permits with no scientific evaluation and overrided their competences;
- the absence of any competent scientist, as far as archaeology is concerned, in Mr. Osmanagic’s team;
- the use, by the Foundation, of the names of several scientists who are not, or not any more, in the project, as the archaeologists Sead Pilav and Silvana Cobanov;
- the extension without any control of the Foundation activities on new sites, like Vratnica (where it is known that existed a burial ground from the fourth century) or Krstac (Semir Osmanagic’s "temple of Earth", or Muris Osmanagic’s "forefather of all the amphitheaters", where is said to exist a settlement/oppidum from before the Roman invasion);
- the use by Mr. Osmanagic, in order to remedy to the lack of archaeological proofs, of various useless analyses that are only "dust in eyes" for the laymen;
- the danger to the reputation of Bosnian science in the world created by some "pseudo-discoveries" like the "Visoko proto-script";
- and last the authors of the mail consider that there are some irregularities in the Foundation accounts, that would need further investigations.

To make it short, as these scientists say, "this farce may be linked with a wish for personal promotion, or for financial means, or for anything else, but however the official institutions of Bosnia, at every level, should by no mean support such a project"...

Update, 18th of May 2007:

"Geolog-mrak" has now published two new mails, one from the Federal Institute for Geology (bs)

Conseil fédéral pour la géologie page 1
Federal Institute for Geology
Conseil fédéral pour la géologie page 2
Federal Institute for Geology
Conseil fédéral pour la géologie page 3
Federal Institute for Geology

and signed by Hazim Hrvatovic, geologist and author of numerous works on the Dinarides and the Tertiary intramountain basins, the other from the Academy of Science and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (bs), signed by Blagoje Govedarica, archaeologist and prehistorian, Professor in Heidelberg University in Germany and scientific advisor to the Center of Balkanic Studies of the Academy.

Académie des sciences page 1
Academy of Science and Arts
Académie des sciences page 2
Academy of Science and Arts

Without any surprise, the conclusions of these two mails are the same as in the first ones. The mail from the Federal Institute for Geology gives a quite detailed description of the geological history of Visoko region (a description which is very close to the one I had made in 2006), and concludes that "Visocica and Pljesevica are the result of natural geological processes"; the Academy of Science is worried about the lack of scientific methodology in the excavations, and about the total lack of scientific documentation (diaries, inventory of the material, scientific reports, complete iconographic documentation), and, not even trying to evaluate the archaeological interest of Mr. Osmanagic’s project, reminds that it cannot be acceptable, according to the European and international criteria, to deliver permits and to finance excavations that, because of these lacks, cannot be scientifically evaluated. And the conclusion is that the federal budget, instead of backing a private foundation that does not respect the basic rules of scientific work, would be much better employed in financing the creation of archaeological studies in Sarajevo University...

Notes :

[1"geolog-mrak"’s blog having disappeared in 2010, I publish here the scans of these mails.

[2I suppose it is the "report for the 2006 excavations", recently published on the official website, that I have commented here.

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