Mr. Osmanagic, protector of the Bosnian national heritage? - [Le site d'Irna]

Mr. Osmanagic, protector of the Bosnian national heritage?

Article published on 5 May 2007

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Is Mr. Osmanagic’s Foundation abandoning its pyramid chimeras, and beginning to devote itself to real archaeology and the protection of the Bosnian heritage? That’s what one could believe, at least for a moment, when one sees the news published on the 29th of April 2007 (bs) on the Foundation web site. Indeed the Foundation announces a new "multidisciplinary project", with no less than "28 experts from 8 countries" in every kind of science, aiming at "studying, preserving and displaying the Old Town Visoki"; Visoki is an old town and fortress, once the political and economical heart of the medieval Kingdom of Bosnia, located on the top and on the slopes of Visocica hill (Mr. Osmanagic’s "pyramid of the Sun"). The Foundation deplores the state of utter neglect in which the authorities left Visoki during tens of years, and proclaims that Mr. Osmanagic’s team is going to end this and to protect at their best the archaeological wealth of Bosnia. Three documents are offered to bear witness of this [1]: a letter from the Foundation to Sarajevo National Museum (bs), offering a collaboration in this worthy enterprise; the project itself (bs) of "research and preservation" of Old Town Visoki; and a letter (bs) sent to the answering Minister by Dubravko Lovrenovic and the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (en) (the same Commission that was responsible for the designation of Visoki as National monument in 2004).

This letter from Dubravko Lovrenovic is a warning to the ministery: he mentions the negative opinions on this project of several official institutions (the Science Academy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Council for Geology, and the Commission to Preserve National Monuments itself), and consequently warns that the delivery of excavation permits to Osmanagic’s team in the protected area of the Old Town Visoki would be "an infringement of the law". The reaction to this by the Foundation team, that consists, by publishing this letter and the project, in openly accusing Mr. Lovrenovic and the Commission of trying to prevent them to save a threatened monument, seems to show that the warnings from the Commission have been heard, and that the chances that the Foundation will get the needed excavation permits are few. Is it a pity? Is Semir Osmanagic convincing in the new part he plays of the protector of the Bosnian heritage, when he always tried, in his claims, to underestimate the importance of Visoki (saying that it is only a "small fortress" of 20 x 60 meters, see here, or that "there isn’t anymore stone on stone" since it was burned by the Turks), and when the major grievance of the local archaeologists is that he is precisely threatening the medieval site - and maybe other ones - with his obsession of the underlying pyramid? To answer this, let’s look closer at this new "multidisciplinary project".

First some precisions: Visoki is protected as "National Monument" since 2004, by a decision of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments dated 2nd of March (here (en) in English). At that time, only the fortress itself, at the top of Visocica, was protected, as well as the archaeological material found during old excavations, particularly the ones made in 1976 by the archaeologist Pavao Andelic (shards of pottery, stone cannon balls, iron nails and arrowheads), and the findings made during the 92-95 war (fragments of a portal and inscriptions on stones), that are preserved in the Visoko Museum. The English text of the Commission stops there, but we can learn with the more complete Bosnian text (bs) that it was decided on the 15th of March 2006 to extend the protection on the entire area that is a State property, that is on several hundreds meters more in all directions, so that almost all the slopes of the hill are included. This decision is founded on the existence of "artificial terraces and platforms" particularly on the south side of the hill, where were most probably built the houses of Visoki town which surrounded the fortress; on the fact that the probes made in 2005 by Mr. Osmanagic on Visocica slopes, even if they don’t threaten the fortress itself, could destroy part of the medieval settlements, still not excavated, of these slopes; and last on the existence of new "specific risks", among which is mentioned searchers or excavators "who are not, or insufficiently, acquainted with archaeological science and the general archaeology of Bosnia and Herzegovina".

It is thus in this extended protected area that the Foundation team wishes to excavate in 2007, particularly aiming at "extending the 15 probes" that were begun on the "pyramid of the Sun" in 2006 and that had to be stopped due to the application of the Commission decision [2]. Let’s remember that these probes were made to prove the existence of the "pyramid" and had no link at all with the Old Town Visoki, which "preservation" is now used ostensibly in a request for excavation permits.

Now, what about this new "multidisciplinary project" made by Mr. Osmanagic’s Foundation? The project is really multidisciplinary, according to the long list of all kinds of experts on the first pages; but it would be interesting to know how many, among these experts, will actually participate, as Mr. Osmanagic has already shown in the recent past that he has curious ways to include some scientists in his team; as would be interesting to know exactly what is the part, in a medieval archaeology project, of such various people as a Brazilian "hierolinguist", expert in the deciphering of Glozel tablets, a "professor in Waldorf pedagogy" or a specialist in pedology and agrochemicals...

The project begins (p.8), logically, by a long presentation of Visoki and its medieval environment; however this presentation is a mere pasting (including the hypertext links) of various pages from Bosnian Wikipedia, particularly this one (bs) and that one (bs). Did at least one of the project "experts" read a few books from the bibliography about Visoki mentioned by the Commission? Then is described (p.10) the present state of Visoki, and are presented the aims of the project (p.11). It is already apparent that the essential motive for the Foundation is to be able to excavate again and extend the 15 probes that were included in the protected area last year and that "have proven Mr. Osmanagic’s hypothesis about the existence of the pyramids", as well as to obtain the authorization to dig on the East face of Visocica, close under the remains of the fortress, hoping to find there the "main entrance to the pyramid of the Sun" (entrance of which we learn, by the way, that it was destroyed by the yugoslav army 40 years ago...). The order in which the aims of the project are displayed is meaningfull: the Foundation team want, first, to continue the excavations begun in 2006 "to unearth the pyramid walls", at the same time as works are made to find and explore the underground tunnels and rooms; second, to extend these excavations; and, only then, to "preserve the Old Town Visoki", with a very limited ambition: to clean it and set signs for the tourists...

The second part of the project (p.13) relates at lenghty the 2005 and 2006 excavations on Visocica, and gives the usual list of "proofs" for the existence of the pyramid that appears in each of its publications: geological evidence, "man-processed" blocks, satellite and "geodetic" analyses, pseudo-report by the Tuzla Civil Engineering Institute that shows nothing of what it is said to show, along with some other "analyses" made by Serbian and German laboratories (which I mentioned in this article), all of this extending on more than 20 pages. The third part (p.36) gives a few details on the "archaeological projects" for 2007 (news studies, new probes), always having a link with the "pyramids"; the fourth part (p.40) is a kind of "lecture" on "methodology and documentation of archaeological excavations"; in fact this text is mostly taken in the "Handbook for archaeology" (already mentioned here, see the post-script) written before the beginning of the excavations by the Swedish archaeologist Sead Pilav, a handbook that, unfortunately, nobody in the Foundation seems to have read, as one can judge by the total lack of this scientific methodology in the 2006 excavations! The fifth part (p.45) mentions various other projects to be developed in 2007: agro-pedology of the "pyramids", measurement of radiations and magnetism (on the "pyramids" also, of course), "cultural anthropology" of the various "artifacts" found, and particularly the inscriptions and "Visoko proto-script".

Then we find at least, on page 51 - that is the last page of the text - the sixth and seventh parts, the only ones really devoted to Old Town Visoki. These two parts do not represent more than three lines each: one is the "preservation of Old Town Visoki", that will be made, using "the most modern scientific methods", in collaboration with Egyptian experts from Cairo; the other is the "presentation of Old Town Visoki", "the presentation of the cultural layers on the pyramid of the Sun" will again be made in collaboration with "egyptologists" from Cairo...

No use to say more: the project for "the study, the preservation and the display of Old Town Visoki" represents 6 lines in a 51 pages text! It is evident that Mr. Osmanagic and his Foundation have absolutely no interest in Old Town Visoki, and that this new "project", as well as the offers to collaborate in it made to various institutions like Sarajevo Museum, have a single motive: to allow Mr. Osmanagic to continue, despite of the protecting rules of the archaeological heritage, to unearth the "walls of the pyramid".

Lettre de la Fondation au Zemaljski Muzej
Téléchargé le 29 avril 2007
Projet multidisciplinaire pour l’étude et la conservation de la vieille ville de Visoki
Téléchargé le 29 avril 2007
Courrier de M. Lovrenovic représentant la Commission pour la protection des Monuments Nationaux
Téléchargé le 29 avril 2007
Notes :

[1Most of the documents have disappeared from the Foundation site - whether deliberately, or simply by accident, it is not known; so that I join a copy below the article for the interested reader.

[2That probably explains why, since the middle of May 2006, the Foundation has devoted most of its attention to the Pljesevica excavations; at that time, the fact that the excavations were stopped on the most part of Visocica had been explained by "administrative problems"...

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