Of transparency and scientific integrity

Article published on 11 October 2008

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Mr. Osmanagic’s "Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun" Foundation claims that its work is "transparent" (en) (see also its statutes (bs)). One particularly notable example of this "transparency" and scientific integrity is that of the report by the archaeologist Andrew Lawler. I have succeeded in obtaining from the author (who left the Foundation, partly because of this same episode) the original of the report whose subject was the radiocarbon dating of a piece of fossil wood found in Ravne tunnel. This original report can be found below:

Rapport originel d’Andrew Lawler
Andrew Lawler’s original report

But, under pressure from Mr. Osmanagic according to Mr. Lawler, the version of this report that was presented at the "First International Scientific Conference about the Bosnian pyramids" in September 2008 in Sarajevo has been heavily "amended"; Mr. Osmanagic thought that the original one contained "too much geology" and "too much guesswork". So the following version was the one publicly presented in Sarajevo:

Rapport modifié par M. Osmanagic présenté à la conférence de Sarajevo
The report, incorporating Mr. Osmanagic’s suggested amendments, that was presented to the Sarajevo conference

And, lastly, a third, much shorter, version, was published on the conference website (section "reports" (en)) and on the Foundation website (en):

Rapport publié par la Fondation
The report published by the Foundation - Source

It is instructive to compare the three versions of this report. At the beginning, each of the three is identical: introduction, sampling, results from Kiel and informations about the methodology used by the laboratory. But, as I had already noted here and there, the version published on the Foundation website then stops abruptly, and doesn’t mention a word concerning the implications of this result. The other two versions both contain the discussion announced in the introduction (implications of result and implications for further research), as well as a bibliography, but with important differences between the original report and the "amended" report presented at the conference.

Andrew Lawler’s original report in fact clearly mentions (pages 7 and 8) the discrepancy between the age, obtained by radiocarbon dating, of the sample (about 30,000 years) and the Miocene age (at least 6 to 7 million years) accepted by the Bosnian geologists for the conglomerate in which the sample was found; and it rightly notes that the only one who gives a Quaternary age for this conglomerate is the Egyptian geologist, invited by the Foundation, Mr. Barakat (see this article for more details). The British archaeologist refuses to decide between the two options, the one presented (and never subjected to scientific consideration) by a single Egyptian geologist, and the one accepted by the local geology experts; but he discusses the two scenarios and their various implications concerning the deposition of the sample of wood [1].

Now, though, this whole discussion has disappeared from the amended version of the report, the only one that was presented to the participants in the Sarajevo conference. In the new version, there is no mention of the ideas of the local geologists (every reference to them has also disappeared from the bibliography, whereas the original bibliography gave the reference of two geological maps of Visoko region); the only option that appears in this second version of the report (pages 5 and 6) is of a recent age, Holocene or Pleistocene, for the conglomerates, and the single geological reference given is the 2006 "report" by Dr. Barakat - in which the Ravne conglomerates are only mentioned in one sentence.

Similarly, the implications for future research (pages 8 and 9 in the original report, page 7 in the amended version) are quite different: while Mr. Lawler’s original report stressed the necessity for an independent geological study of the conglomerates ("the priority in regards to further research leading to an accurate dateline of events in the Ravne tunnel system should be to ascertain the geological age of the medium into which the tunnels were originally cut"), the report amended by Mr. Osmanagic concludes that the sediment is certainly of recent date: "As the dates given by the AMS 14C laboratories comply with the suggested age of the sediments"... forgetting that this age is "suggested" -and that’s the most apposite word here- only by Mr. Barakat.

The curious-minded reader may enjoy picking out further minor variations between the two versions of the report. These changes are not anecdotal: added to the numerous other instances of lies or omissions, already mentioned in the recent past, they confirm, if confirmation was required, that the work of a Foundation which conceals or censors the reports of its own researchers is anything but "transparent" and honest.

Notes :

[1Unfortunately, the only hypothesis he doesn’t mention is the one that appears more probable that I have described here: a sample of fossil wood, ancient, but contaminated by groundwater containing organic carbon.


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