Bosnian 'pyramid' created by nature, say European experts


AFP June 12, 2006

PYRAMID? Egyptian leading geologist Aly Abdullah Barakat shows to visitors huge stone slabs dug at the western side of the Visoko hill in central Bosnia and believed to form stairways of the Bosnian Sun Pyramid in this May 17 photo. (REUTERS)

SARAJEVO --  Stone blocks believed by Bosnian researchers to be part of Europe's first pyramid are nothing but a natural formation, European experts said on Friday after examining the hillside site near Sarajevo.

"My opinion and the opinion of my colleagues is what we saw was entirely geological in nature," said Anthony Harding, head of the European Association of Archaeologists.

Harding, a professor of archaeology at the University of Exeter in Britain, was speaking here after a brief visit on June 8 to the hills near Visoko, a town some 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Sarajevo, where excavation work has been taking place since April.

"Further work of the same kind would simply produce the same results. I don't think it would change any view about what the nature of the hill is," he told reporters.

The excavations on two pyramid-shaped hills covered by vegetation near Visoko were initiated by Semir Osmanagic, a self-styled Bosnian explorer.

Osmanagic has said that he believes that the hills hide the first pyramids to have been discovered in Europe, claiming that they were built many thousands of years ago by an unknown civilization.

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While most Bosnians are hopeful that pyramids will be found, a group of the country's archaeologists and historians have dismissed Osmanagic's mission as a "farce."

So far experts have unearthed a number of large stone blocks at several locations on the larger of the two hills and part of a surface paved with regularly shaped small stone blocks on the other.

"You'd be surprised how many natural stone formations can look as if they are manmade," Harding said of the findings.

However, earlier on Friday, an Egyptian geologist working with the Bosnian researchers said that the "structure" was a pyramid similar to those in his homeland.

"I believe it is a pyramid," Aly Abdullah Barakat, of the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority, said.

Listing the evidence for his claim, Barakat said that the sides of the hill were "precisely oriented" toward the four points of the compass and that stone slabs discovered at the site had been "polished by man."

"The white stuff I found between the blocks could be a glue. It is very similar to that we have found in the Giza pyramids," he said.

He called for a massive international research project on the site.

Barakat said that he had sent a report on the site to one of the world's leading Egyptologists, Zahi Hawass, who had recommended him to the foundation leading the excavation work.