One more, one less... - [Le site d'Irna]

One more, one less...

Article published on 13 September 2008

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One more

Mr. Osmanagic definitely has no luck with the archaeologists. He could not obtain, from the few Egyptian archaeologists and egyptologists he managed to invite to his "international scientific conference" (en), more than a few vague conclusions (en) saying that it is necessary to "answer the origin of the Bosnian pyramidal hills" and postponing any "scientific validation" of his theories to a possible second conference in 2010. At the same time, BHDani magazine published, in its 5th September 2008 issue (bs), the translation of an interview given, at the end of August 2008, to "The Egyptian Gazette", by the world-reknown Egyptian archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt:

If the title of the article mentions "A pyramid beyond compare", this pyramid of course is not the "pyramid of the Sun" in Bosnia, but rather the Great Pyramid of Kheops, and Mr. Hawass clearly has little regard for the Bosnian pseudo-archaeology. He first reminds that Mr. Osmanagic "is an amateur with no scientific training in archaeological excavation", and expresses some sadness that he was even asked to make a comparison between the Bosnian "pyramid" and the Egyptian ones. Beyond the views of the Bosnian geologists (a "pyramid" resulting of tectonic movements in sedimentary layers deposited in a lake), he points to the fact that the Egyptian pyramids are the result of long technical evolution, from the mastabas made of mud bricks, to the step pyramids then the pyramids. He also points to the large quantity of archaeological remains surrounding the Egyptian pyramids (workshops, houses for the workers and the priests...), which are evidence of a human developped civilization building the pyramids. And he logically concludes that "the Bosnian pyramid shows no evidence whatsoever that it was built by men". So, Mr. Hawass has not changed his opinion on the "Bosnian pyramids", which he called already in 2006 (en) pure "hallucinations with no scientific backing"...

One less

The young British archaeologist Andrew Lawler is of course much less reknown than Mr. Hawass, but he was nonetheless probably more important for Mr. Osmanagic: after the few professional archaeologists (Sead Pilav, Silvana Cobanov, Nancy Gallou) that the latter managed to include in his team in 2006 left the Foundation, Mr. Lawler remained the single archaeologist in charge of the entire excavation. He never voiced publicly any opinion about Mr. Osmanagic’s theses - and that is, per se, an interesting clue to what his opinion actually is; he mainly appears to have tried to give a semblance of rational and scientific management to the "excavations" carried out by the Foundation in a very unprofessional way. Among the few texts he published on the Foundation website (and only in the Bosnian part of it, even if they are in English), there is indeed a "handbook" (en), a "Fieldwork Manual" establishing a "basic excavational protocol for archaeological work". This document is extremely revealing: when an archaeologist has, almost three years after the beginning of the "excavation", to remind the Foundation and its members of the "basics of excavational procedures" and of the "recording system", and to ask for pencils, paper, labels, sample bags and so on, that says a lot about the professionalism of the excavation... Another text (en) from Mr. Lawler, devoted to his work on Pljesevica, is even more explicit about the shortcomings and defects of the archaeology "à la Osmanagic", and lists all the necessary improvements. Reading between the lines, one can even understand that Mr. Lawler probably met the same kind of difficulties that were mentioned by the geologist Ms. Nukic and the archaeologist Ms. Cobanov, that is the fact that some Foundation members, without any archaeological expertise, engage in independent "digs" without control; otherwise, why would he have added this sentence: "The Permanent Archaeologist [...] may also decline to record excavations which have been carried out without regard for the standard archaeological protocol"?...

I do not know whether Andrew Lawler’s effort have been successful - one may doubt it; however, the "Permanent Archaeologist" has resigned from the Foundation at the beginning of September, immediately after the "international conference" in Sarajevo. If he still lives in Visoko, according to this article (bs) he now works as barman, the Foundation having left him "in the street". The article doesn’t mention the reasons for his "separation" from the Foundation, but a short article published in BHDani (bs), and a few mails exchanged with Mr. Lawler, allow to know more of it. The young archaeologist mentions two main reasons for resigning from the Foundation; the first one is an attempt to make him sign a quite odd "confidentiality agreement", very directly inspired by this kind of text (en). If such "non-disclosure agreements" are frequently used in industrial companies to protect technical, financial or commercial informations, one may really wonder why it is used by a "non-profit" Foundation, which is not supposed to have "proprietary data" nor "confidential information" - which would indeed be contrary to its statutes (bs) (article 52); it is also quite unusual in the world of archaeological research, where the archaeologists’ work has, as is pointed to by Vuk Bacanovic’s article in BHDani, to be transparent.

The second fact that has made Andrew Lawler quite unhappy is the way his reports were published by the Foundation. He mentions pressures from Mr. Osmanagic, who wanted somewhat more "positive" reports, with less assumptions and more statements. The reports provided by the British archaeologist being inappropriate for Mr. Osmanagic, the latter did not hesitate to truncate them before publication to remove the unsatisfactory parts. It was probably already the case with a report published in July 2008 about the excavation made by Mr. Lawler in Ravne tunnel, report which seems curiously incomplete and mentions a map that does not appear in the published version. It is more evident still with the report published following the "international conference" (en) in Sarajevo, about the radiocarbon dating of a piece of wood found in Ravne tunnel. The introduction of the report mentions a discussion on the implications of the results, and on the directions for research in this tunnel, but the entire discussion is lacking in the published report which ends very ... abruptly, just after a general paragraph on the dating method used. It seems however that some "friends" of Mr. Osmanagic’s have been able to read the complete version, as Mr. Nenad Djurdjevic (moderator of the forum) summarizes - in his own way - on his blog (en) the missing discussion...

With the departure of Mr. Lawler, one has now the very strange situation of an archaeological foundation... without any archaeologist! Will the Bosnian authorities, at last, draw the necessary conclusions?

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