no-longer excluded continent
at the Nexus Conference 2007, Brisbane, October 21 2007
there are pyramids in Europe. A decade ago, this statement may
have been seen as a sign of idiocy, but today, there is a substantial
body of evidence that there are pyramids in Europe.
most famous pyramid is probably the glass pyramid that marks the
entrance to the Louvre museum in the heart of Paris. Since the
publication of Dan Brown’s international mega-bestseller
“The Da Vinci Code”, it has become an enigmatic attraction
– though the glass panels do not number 666, as Dan Brown
hoped for; the Louvre guide lists it as 673 panels – it
is close, but for symbolism to work, of course, it is either hit
or miss. Still, the Louvre pyramid, despite its modern origins,
has achieved an exalted status, claimed to be part of a series
of esoteric works that Mitterrand performed in Paris to bring
it line with certain “occult ambitions” – very
much in line with ancient Egyptian town planning and alignments
to solar phenomena.
Of interest is tha Brown makes the Louvre Pyramid the final resting
place of Mary Magdalene - her tomb - and thus uses the archetypal
imagery of the pyramid as a tomb and applies it to Mary Magdalene.
It is such use of archetypal imagery that has greatly contributed
to "The Dan Brown Phenomenon".
has its own “proper” – old – pyramid,
though it is little known, and small in size. The base of the
pyramid varies between 5 to 6.5 metres and sits on the hillside
above La Bastide, at the Aven des Ratapignata, to the northeast
of Falicon, near the posh Mediterranean town of Nice. On detailed
maps, the site is not marked as “pyramid”, but as
“Grotte de Ratapignata”, for the pyramid does sit
over a cave, known as the “Cave of the Bats” –
Despite its somewhat disappointingly minute size, for a very long
time, it was considered to be one of the very rare pyramids to
be found in Europe. As it is a pyramid, it almost seems to be
an unwritten law that no simple answer can ever been given for
its existence. There are various theories of its origins and some
of course include an Egyptian connection: the grandson of the
famous archaeologist John Ward-Perkins thought that it might have
marked the tomb of an ancient chieftain, possibly an exiled Egyptian.
I’ll classify that as “imaginative”, as for
the moment it is totally unsupported by evidence – such
as the absence of a tomb or inscriptions that would support that
most of the upper section of the pyramid is now missing, the lower
section is reasonably well-preserved; fortunately, photographs
still exist of the time when the upper part was better preserved.
They have allowed for an accurate reconstruction of the structure,
which had an entrance in its south-eastern corner. The entrance
was large enough to permit the passage of one person at a time,
suggesting that this was intentional.
Today, the site is well-known to the local fire brigade, who often
have to rescue people who have descended inside the cave. Though
the descent is easy enough (for a somewhat experienced climber),
the ascent is virtually impossible, as it involves conquering
a horizontal ridge; the fire brigade’s winch clears it easily,
but feet groping in the dark for footholds don’t.
though the cave was documented in the early 19th century, it lasted
until 1898 before a proper excavation occurred, carried out by
Professor Jean-Robert Salifard. The end result was a report of
657 pages and 174 illustrations. From the main room, he identified
three tunnels, one that continued for “a considerable distance”.
But when the famous speleologist Jules Gavet visited the site
in 1901, he found that these tunnels had been blocked.
What had happened between 1898 and 1901? Someone – and apparently
not Salifard – had purposefully sealed the tunnels. Why?
Was it purely for health and safety purposes, to make sure that
no souls would wander inside and get lost? Or was it to protect
something that was perhaps hidden deeper inside the network of
to the pyramid’s purpose: in 1976, author Henri Broch argued
that the land sat on former Knights Templar property. Could it
be possible that the enigmatic Knights Templar had been pyramid
builders? That possibility was also taken up by Maurice Guinguand.
But neither author spoke of the work of Jean Carrond. The latter
had access to family documents of a certain Baron de Raudie. The
very old documents that he consulted spoke of a deposit that was
of tremendous importance and which had been owned and protected
by the ancestors of de Raudie. In some corners, it invited speculation
that this deposit was part of the Templar treasure, secreted away
at the time of their arrest in 1307.
However, Carrond and others have since discovered that the land
on which the Falicon pyramid sits was actually not owned by the
Templars, leaving us with the possibility that the potential treasure
secret in the underground cave system might indeed “just”
belong to the de Raudie family
it is clear that a Templar connection or even the hiding place
of a treasure cannot have been its original purpose – the
very building of a pyramid would identification of the treasure
site rather too easy. Instead, it seems to have been a site where
certain religious ceremonies were performed. The first subterranean
chamber shows the best evidence that it was used and adapted for
ritual use. There are seven steps, as well as a small platform
that originally is believed to have held an altar. Speculation
is that the nature of the cult that was practiced here, may have
been the cult of Mithras, popular in Roman times. The cult of
Mithras spread across Europe, hand in hand with the cult of Osiris
and Isis; sanctuaries of both cults have been found as far north
as the border territories of Scotland and England and stumbling
upon a Mithras temple in southern France would be the norm rather
than the exception. Mithraic sanctuaries were normally –
ideally – underground and the cave underneath the Falicon
pyramid thus qualifies – though it is by no means a perfect
match if we were to compare it with a typical Mithras temple.
Much more recently, in 1922, Etienne Gotteland settled near Falicon
and founded a cult that incorporated the pyramid. He nevertheless
also made some observations about the structure itself: using
the precession of the equinox, he argued that the site of the
pyramid (though not the pyramid itself) was 4335 years old, or
2413 BC – roughly contemporary with the Egyptian Pyramid
Age. This is of course a controversial dating, and pushing the
age of the site very far back. If it was indeed a Mithraic sanctuary
and the pyramid were to date from that era, than the pyramid would
date from ca. 200 BC to 300 AD. But in truth, we have no idea
as to its age…
1991, the renowned explorer Thor Heyerdahl spoke of pyramids on
the Canary Islands. He had come across these monuments while he
was trying to find further evidence of transoceanic contacts.
Of course, many immediately jumped to a “logical”
conclusion: pyramids in Egypt, pyramids in Mesoamerica, and now
pyramids right in the middle, in the Canary Islands; connect the
dots, and you have “clear evidence” of transoceanic
contacts, in which the Old World apparently had told the New World
to start building pyramids.
There are six step pyramids on the island of Tenerife, located
near the town of Guimar, on the eastern shore, about 40 kilometres
(24 miles) south of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The pyramids reach
a maximum height of twelve metres. The Archaeology Department
of La Laguna University carried out initial excavations and the
Canary Islands’ Astrophysical Institute looked into possible
ancient astronomical relationships. These studies revealed that
the pyramids were aligned to the winter and summer solstices,
once again underlining that many if not most if not all pyramids
have an astronomical component. The pyramids are reported to line
up with the sunset, which occurs in a distinctive spot on the
mountainous horizon. Stairways ascend from a level plaza to the
top of each pyramid, where there is a flat summit platform covered
with gravel. The stairways are all on the western side, suggesting
a ceremonial purpose, because someone ascending to the pyramids’
summits on the morning of the solstice would be “welcoming”
the rising sun – a very religiously significant act.
course, there was controversy. The “opposition” claimed
that they were merely terraces or random piles of stone that had
been cleared by the Spaniards. Others argued they were modern
constructions, inspired – if not built – by or for
or in support of Heyerdahl’s theories. But it were nonetheless
archaeologists that discovered that they were in fact painstakingly
This “opposition” may have had very selfish economic
reasons to say what it did: the land on which the pyramids stand
had been earmarked for development in connection with a planned
expansion in the upper part of the town and even in 1991, it was
clear that archaeology and economic pursuits did not easily go
hand in hand. Heyerdahl therefore persuaded the Norwegian ship
owner Fred Olsen to buy the site, clean up the debris of centuries
of disregard and construct a museum, marrying archaeology and
is now what is known as the “Pirámides de Güímar”
Ethnographic Park. The park opened in April 1998 and is attracting
150,000 visitors per year. One of the ‘black’ pyramids
has been restored. Recent excavations under one pyramid have yielded
artefacts identified with the Guanches, the pre-Spanish inhabitants
of Tenerife. Still, some refuse to admit that such impressive
structures could have been built by the Guanche and suggest that
they might have been constructed by the early Christian conquistadores
as a time measuring device to know when to celebrate the Catholic
festivities of St. John (which occur on June 24, close to the
Heyerdahl believed that these pyramids were remains from pre-European
voyagers who sailed the Atlantic Ocean in ancient times. But following
Dr. Heyerdahl’s express wishes, no theory is forced on the
visitors to Guimar. In fact, the symbol of the exhibit is a question
mark, asking each person to make up his own mind. Still, the most
likely scenario seems to involve the Guanche themselves. If we
let go off the idea that they “could not construct such
structures” and embrace the possibility that they could,
we may have the easiest, most logical and correct attribution
as to who built these pyramids – though they are more platforms
that pyramids. Furthermore, one interesting aspect is that it
is known that the Guanche used the Chacona cave under one of the
pyramids – indeed, yet another cave underneath a pyramid.
Secondly, nearby Guimar was, until the Spanish conquest, the residence
of one of the ten “menceys” (kings) of Tenerife, identifying
the area as a capital. And as pyramids were often if not normally
related to kingship, why not link the pyramids with Guanche kingship?
are three pyramids in the Peloponnesus, the large peninsula in
southern Greece. One pyramid is located approximately four kilometres
from Argos, in the village of Helleniko; A second pyramid is located
outside of the village of Ligouria, near Epidauros; the third
pyramid is to be found in Dalamanara, located roughly half-way
between the other two, and is, of all three, in the worst shape.
The pyramids have only recently become the topic of archaeological
and historical research, and were immediately hailed by the researcheres
as the “prototypes” for the Egyptian pyramids. Imagine:
an obscure village near Argos in the Greek Peloponnesus could
be the origin of the Egyptian Pyramid Age! Immediately, this headline-grabbing
statement was also seen as evidence that contradicted “the
misguided belief held by many that civilization proceeded from
the East”. In short, the early headlines, based on the results
of the Athens Academy and the University of Edinburgh, had made
it “clear” that the “pyramid idea” had
been transferred from Greece to Egypt. The pyramid was a European
had happened that made these academic institutions arrive at such
conclusions? On February 9, 1995, Pericles Theoharis, the then
General Secretary of the Athens Academy, announced the results
of a two year study of the Greek pyramids (which excluded the
badly damaged Dalamanara structure). The results dated the Helleniko
pyramid to 2720 BC, with a margin of error factor of plus or minus
580 years. The Ligouria pyramid, a structure originally measuring
14 by 12 metres, of which very little remains, was dated to 2100
BC, with a margin of error factor of plus or minus 600 years.
For the Greeks, this was clear evidence that the Helleniko pyramid
was a century older than the Egyptian step pyramid of Zoser (dated
to 2620 BC), and 170 years older than the Great Pyramid.
But controversial claims receive controversial criticism. Hence
the first line of attack: attack the methodology and the instruments
used in arriving at the claim. As the scientists had used the
“optical thermo-photo illumination” method rather
than the more widely used carbon dating, criticism against this
method soon took the format that this method was effective only
for measuring ceramics and not on the kind of processed stone
used for the construction of these pyramids. Unsurprisingly, Pericles
Theoharis disagreed, writing that “this method has been
successfully applied on geological substances such as lava, stalagmites,
meteorites, cave deposits, and aeolic and oceanic residues”
and that it was tested on the “block house” of Mycenae,
which had already been dated using other methods.
To cut a long debate, which occasionally comes and goes, short:
the dates seem to be correct enough, but since the debate commenced
in 1995, the carbon dating of the Great Pyramid has made the “Out
of Greece” hypothesis surplus to requirements once again,
underlining that the Great Pyramid – and others –
are older than the small Greek pyramids. However, I want to bypass
this controversy, by suggesting that we try to see whether or
not there were links between ancient Egypt and Greece at that
time, and leave it aside for the moment who told whom what.
of all, there are ancient records about these Greek pyramids.
The Helleniko pyramid was known to Pausanias (2nd century BC),
who stated that it was built by Acrisius and his brother, Proetus;
Acrisius was identified as the grandfather of Perseus, who was
said to have been born and have spent his first childhood years
near the pyramid, before visiting Africa and Ethiopia. To quote
Pausanias: “On the way from Argos to Epidauria there is
on the right a building made very like a pyramid… Here took
place a fight for the throne between Proetus and Acrisius; the
contest, they say, ended in a draw… For those that fell
on either side was built here a common tomb.” So it seems
that these pyramids were tombs… royal tombs – though
another line of thinking goes that these pyramids were watchtowers
and that, in fact, their upper structure was not made from stone,
Greece has more than just these three pyramids. In 1997, author
Richard Poe dedicated a chapter to the “Pyramid of Amphion”
in “Black Spark, White Fire”, largely arguing that
Greece was a child of Egypt – and not the other way around.
The “Amphion Hill” or the “The Stepped Pyramid
of Thebes” comes closest to being a “real Greek pyramid”.
The story of this hill is directly linked with the foundation
of the city of Thebes. Though some legends say it was Cadmus,
others argue that the city’s founder was Amphion, the son
of Antiope and Zeus. He and his brother Zethus were abandoned
by their mother at birth, and reared by a shepherd – a clear
analogy with the story of Romulus and Remus, founding brothers
of Rome. Together, they, like Romulus and Remus in Rome, built
a protective wall around the city that would later become known
as Thebes (named after Zethus’ wife, Thebe). According to
legend, Amphion drew the stones used for building the wall after
him by playing magical music on his lyre.
founder of Thebes met with a tragic ending: Amphion’s whole
family was struck by a plague, which was seen as punishment from
the gods for a wrongful accusation made by Amphion of the Titaness
Leto and her children, Apollo and Artemis. Zethus died of sorrow
when his mother killed his son by mistake. Whereas in Rome, Remus
and Romulus fought to the death, Romulus being victorious, in
Thebes, the two brothers were buried in a common tomb north of
Thebes, just outside the northern gates.
The story was seen to be as nothing but a legend, until the Amphion
hill was discovered to have an interior system of tunnels and
chambers, in which one could have been the tomb of Amphion and
Zethus. The excavations were done by archaeologist Theodoros Spyropoulos,
between 1971 and 1973. Spiropoulos also concluded that the most
important aspect about the tomb of Amphion was that it was the
only structure in the Greek world in the shape of a stepped pyramid
– in short, it was an anomaly. He dated the structure to
2500-2000 BC, coinciding once again with the Egyptian Pyramid
Age. Furthermore, the pyramid contained four gold pendants shaped
like lilies and topped with papyroid forms, which is classified
as a typical Egyptian motif.
As to its construction: the pyramid had been constructed by moulding
the sides of the Amphion hill in continuous cone-shaped banks,
so that the whole structure became a stepped pyramid, made of
four layers. But the true wonder lay inside, where Spyropoulos
discovered a system of corridors, steps, passageways and drainage
systems. He found a stone-lined chamber with two depressions in
the floor. Were these spaces for two bodies? Those of Amphion
and Zethus? Unfortunately, Spyropoulos found numerous signs of
ancient grave robbing, even though, as mentioned, some fragments
of gold jewellery remained. Near the location of the burial chamber
is a horizontal tunnel that leads north. Further on, this horizontal
tunnel meets a vertical chamber, which leads to another tunnel
at a different (higher) level. This area remains to be further
explored and may bring further discoveries.
Equally intriguing was the observation that the brick tomb at
the top of the hill closely followed the construction of the pre-dynastic
Egyptian mastabas. The unique characteristic of these mastabas
is that their area is larger than the underground chambers they
cover, something which is also true at Amphion. It was this specific
correlation with ancient Egypt that made Richard Poe wonder whether
the Amphion hill was the tomb of an Egyptian emigrant in Greece…
has a pyramid; one of its subway stations is even named after
it. It is the “Piramide Cestia”, the tomb of Caius
Cestius, who died in 12 BC. Cestius spent time in Egypt and ordered
that his slave should be freed upon his death, but not before
they constructed his pyramid in the final 330 days of service
to their master. The structure is 36 metres (120 ft) high and
may be a familiar sight for anyone who has taken a taxi ride between
the airport and the centre of Rome – the route normally
taking you past this pyramid, which is illuminated by night. It
is built of a very firm composition of mortar and small stones,
faced with tablets of white marble. The original entrance was
by means of an inclined shaft about halfway up the northern side
of the Pyramid. This shaft (opened in the 7th century AD) led
straight to the centre of the vault, covering the grave-chamber.
The interior walls were decorated with stuccoes and fresco paintings
divided in panels by means of painted candelabra that framed female
figures. Impressive as it is and intriguing as it is to find a
pyramid in the heart of Rome, unfortunately, the pyramid itself
is not displayed to its full potential; part of it sits lower
than street level and a wall has been built right onto two sides
of the pyramid, to enclose the park area behind.
the Louvre, many will consider the Cestius Pyramid not to be a
“true” pyramid. In early 2003, the “pyramids
of Montevecchia” (“Old Mountain”), ca. 30 miles
from the Italian city of Milan, were discovered through the use
of satellite and aerial imagery. These pyramids are now completely
covered by ground and vegetation and appear to be natural hills,
but the possibility of something more was enough for the Czech
WM magazine and their editor in chief Georg Wojnar to visit the
area. They arrived on May 8, 2003, in an effort to locate and
survey the site. The team soon learned that discovering their
location from the ground proved more difficult than imagined,
with the team becoming “impressed” with the driving
abilities required to negotiate the roads that lead towards the
hills. After two days of failed attempts, they finally succeeded
in locating the pyramids and carrying out an initial survey.
The team’s conclusion appeared in the June 2003 issue of
WM. They had come to the conclusion that the first pyramid was
estimated to have a base of 100 metres, with a height of fifty
metres. In total, three potential pyramids were surveyed, with
one pyramid showing clear signs of stones worked into the structure,
close to the surface. A platform with an oblong superstructure
with a size of 18 by 9 metres was also discovered. All three structures
had an inclination of 42/43 degrees. The sides of all pyramids
were aligned and were offset from the cardinal points by approximately
7 to 12 degrees northeast. The team wondered whether this was
an error in design or a sign of something more intriguing. From
the initial aerial surveys, there was speculation that their layout
compared to the pyramids of the Gizeh plateau – and thus
to the Belt of Orion. The Czech team stated that their on-site
research had showed that the pyramids actually aligned with the
passing of Orion at the sunrise of the summer solstice. The Czech
team felt that the site should be known as “the Italian
I wrote an article on the Italian and Bosnian pyramids for Nexus,
Bill Ingle wrote to me, wondering whether I was familiar with
the fact that he had been involved in an expedition (a somewhat
grandiose term to use, but still) to the Montevecchia site. I
was not. “The Great Coordination Point Expedition”
had, like the Czech team, located and inspected the site during
two Fall 2004 visits. Before Ingle’s arrival, he had discovered
that the three hills were located in the Parco Regionale di Montevecchia
e della Valle del Curone. I will quote from Ingle’s expedition
notes: “We found Montevecchia without difficulty, then continued
through Alto Montevecchia. […] The hills are immediately
behind the villages of Monte and Cereda, a small parking lot carved
out of the base of the first hill, ‘la collina dei cipressi’
(Hill of Cypresses).”
Ingle and team explored the area and the site, but after three
days on site, felt disappointed. A second visit occurred in November
2004, at the end of which Ingle came away with the feeling that
“for anyone wondering whether actual stone pyramids will
be found lurking within the hills, I suggest this is not the case.
In my opinion these are natural hills that were shaped and augmented
long ago, but only archaeological spadework will provide a definitive
Despite this initial on-site investigation, several questions
remain, including whether these are man-made, natural or artificially
elaborated structures. Amongst the other outstanding questions
are the questions who and when these were built – if built
they were. To try and provide an answer, the Czech team asked
the Italian archaeologist professor Gregoria for his input. He
provisionally dated the structures to 3000 BC, making them largely
contemporary with the Egyptian pyramid building age. But no remains
in the vicinity have been found that can shed any further light
on these structures and there is no known civilisation in the
region that built similar structures at the time. As a consequence
and despite the findings by the Czech team, some have argued that
the Montevecchia structures may be nothing more than a terraced
hill with stone supports.
the exception of the Italian pyramids, all of these pyramids are
relatively small in size. None of them match the grandeur of the
Egyptian pyramids. All – except the Italian pyramids –
are also undoubtedly man-made structures. Then, in late October
2005, an emigrated Bosnian explorer Semir “Sam” Osmanagich
believed that he could announce the first ancient and large pyramid
in Europe – it also appeared to be the oldest and the biggest.
During Sam Osmanagic’s promotional lecture tour for his
book on Mayan pyramids, the director of the Visoko Historic Heritage
museum, Senad Hodovic, invited him to look at an enigmatic mountain
that loomed over the town. He – and anyone else who sees
this mountain – agreed it looked like a pyramid. So why
did no-one suggest it was a pyramid? Because if it was a man-made
pyramid, it was one of the biggest pyramids ever constructed.
That was the problem – or the challenge.
of the Moon
exploration work was carried out that same year, using geologist
Nadja Nukic. She was puzzled by three layers of brown polished
stone that were positioned at equal distances from each other
and suggested further exploration was undertaken.
Early excavation work began in 2006, amidst press conferences
and the world media’s attention; academics, alternative
writers and local and other tourists came to visit too. Unsurprisingly,
controversy broke out, with some arguing that the pyramid was
12,000 years old, and some arguing it was a freak of nature. Controversy
once again reigned in piramidology and fights, in newspapers,
magazines and especially the Internet broke out, with insults
still flying around from camp to camp.
the “Pyramid of the Sun Foundation”, established to
explore whether these structures are man-made or not, is in its
second year of excavation. Since 2005, more than one site has
been highlighted as potentially man-made and part of a “pyramid
complex” based in this “Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids”.
The first – obvious – target for excavation was the
mountain above Visoko, which was soon nicknamed “Pyramid
of the Sun” – hence the official name of the foundation
that runs the excavations.
The structure does not merely look man-made, at 220 metres high,
it has four equal-sized bases of 365 metres each. Each side is
furthermore perfectly aligned to the cardinal points. It is hence
much larger than the Great Pyramid and if man-made, would be the
largest pyramid on Earth.
first impression, the hill seems to be a mixture between the much
smaller Chinese pyramids and the Mexican pyramid of Cholula. Osmanagic
too felt that the site resembled Cholula. But rather than having
a church on top, Visoko, a place-name that means “the high
town”, was actually named after the first location of the
town: on the very top of the mountain/pyramid. And the meagre
ruins of this medieval town were used as the first hammer to strike
the team with.
When the excavation project was announced, 21 experts from different
towns signed a petition to stop the excavations at the Pyramid
of the Sun, arguing that the medieval town of Visoki was in danger
because of the excavations. Read: why were “amateurs”
put in charge of something academics felt was solely their bailiwick.
Their “plea” was heard by Western archaeologists who
decided to enter the debate, for there was a rumour that Osmanagic
had claimed that the pyramid was 12,000 years old. Some, including
Anthony Harding, seemed to feel such delusions had to be stopped,
at all cost.
these two camps have solidified their existence, largely waging
battle on the internet. The first camp consists of critics who
use every element that goes against the man-made possibility as
further proof that it is all a hoax. Most have never visited the
sites, or did so very quickly. The other camp vociferously attacks
those speaking out against the pyramids, largely attacking the
credentials of those experts that speak out in favour of the man-made
nature of the structures.
The group of anti-pyramid opponents, like Blagoje Govedarica,
Zilka Kujundzic, Svetozar Pudaric, Mirko Babic, Gavrilo Grahovac,
Ivan and Dubravko Lovrenovic, are working hard to debunk the pyramid
research project, arguing that the entire endeavour is about putting
Bosnia on the map; they argue it’s the Muslim answer to
Medjugorje, a site where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared and
which is now a major tourist magnet. They argue Visoko has now
become a local tourist trap, based on a lie, or rather, a hallucination.
What is remarkable, is that these archaeologists have sought refuge
in a rather elaborate conspiracy theory to explain away what is
As a consequence, Visoko has become the modern Glozel and Osmanagic
the new Emile Fradin. One American historian working for the foundation
states how the vitriolic attacks from the archaeological and geological
communities have taken her by surprise. And the problem is larger
than just that establishment: there are also politicians in the
mix, each of whom wants some form of notoriety, no matter what,
of the Moon
approach to Visoko, it is hard to believe that it took until 2005
before someone seriously pondered the notion that the hill could
be a pyramid. The bottom of the hill has been built upon and the
streets are more than steep. Early on, Osmanagic was told that
several of these homes wanted, but could not have, a cellar, because
of a cement-like layer hiding approximately one metre below the
Not far up the "mountain", you park and begin a steep
series of sandy mixed with gravel steps, of recent addition, to
allow visitors to see the site that was explored in 2006. The
incline, from the streets of Visoko to here, is a staggering sixty
degrees – and continues to the very top of this flat-topped
The excavation site (about one third up the hill) has revealed
large blocks of stone and looks relatively unimpressive. The “blocks”
are a mixture of small stones that were sculpted by water, held
together by sand/cement. Similar excavations have occurred on
the other sides of the pyramid; in each case, just below the surface,
a layer of this cement has been found.
When geologists studied this site, some labelled it natural, some
artificial. Fair enough. But today, the site is no longer an isolated
occurrence. Further to the right, the layer of earth that has
covered this “cement” – which some see as the
original coating of the pyramid – has been removed. Here,
you can walk about 20 metres upwards, on the sixty degrees slope,
noting how wherever the team dug, this cement layer was present
just below ground level; though it is obviously very old, it is
perhaps best described as if someone fifty years ago has put a
cement road here, now in need of repairs.
2007, a limited amount of work has been carried out at the Pyramid
of the Sun. One site where work is ni progress, is the so-called
“Pyramid of the Moon”, on the other side of the river
Bosna, the river that runs through Visoko. “Only”
190 metres high, and situated lower in the valley, the foot of
this pyramid has become a second showcase of the foundation’s
work. Excavations have shown a type of “floor” lying
on sandstone, followed by a second layer, in approximately one
metre high steps.
Nearby, the team wanted to probe where two faces of the pyramid
would meet and found a stone structure, which looks like a well.
It is but one fortuitous discovery in a series of findings.
harder to reach is the excavation at the top of the pyramid, where
stretches of earth have once again been moved aside to uncover
what lies beneath – like the Pyramid of the Sun, at a depth
of roughly one metre.
This site is typical of how discoveries have been made: local
people, when they heard that people were testing to see whether
these mountains were artificial, came to talk to the team members
(several of the work force are local too), talking about locations
where they and/or others had taken or found enigmatic stones or
formations. In this case, the landlord was trying to dig a well,
but after less than a metre, stumbled upon enigmatic rocks –
quite similar to the “flooring” found at the bottom
of the pyramid. Since, the excavation team has made the well much
deeper, in an effort to see whether something is hiding below.
Work, of course, is arduous and progress is slow.
Nearby, top soil has also been removed and below, the same type
of flooring has been discovered. Archaeologists are showing how
you have a layer of top soil, and below natural layers of sandstone;
but separating both is a thin layer of rectangular stone blocks
that look, in size, similar to modern paving slabs. In substance,
they look as if they have been poured, and laid side by side.
Interestingly, some are broken, but these fractures are always
random; their “original shape” is always rectangular.
excavations on northern face of Pyramid of the Sun
pointing out anomalies is also what brought the team to Gornja
Vratnica, some four kilometres from the pyramid site and situated
in a different valley. This is not a pyramid; it is a stone shrine,
situated on top of a small hill known as Toprakalia, named after
the Turkish soldier whose grave sits on top. That the team take
great care in their work is on display here, with his tomb carefully
marked as off-limits.
When team members came here to carry out an initial survey, it
was found that the magnetic north seemed to move on a daily basis.
The first excavation on one side of the mountain seems natural.
However, the team then moved slightly upward, and this time found
a layer of massive stone blocks, some weighing in at 20 tonnes,
which look anything but natural. They are rectangular, and positioned
side by side. The best comparison is probably with the huge building
blocks used by the ancient Egyptians for their temple –
and pyramid – construction.
As elsewhere, there are nevertheless several “layers”
of stone floors below and above. One level has small openings
between the blocks (a few centimetres wide) that lead inside the
hill. One member of the team explains how one morning, he used
to blow cigarette smoke into the opening, to see what would happen.
About an hour later, working nearby, he observed that it seemed
as if the pyramid was breathing out that smoke. So he repeated
his little experiment, with the same result. But, he says, it
only seems to work in the morning. It is but one reason why the
team plan on continuing to penetrate deeper into the hill, in
search of hidden cavities.
team have identified other potential sites of interest in the
valley. One is the Pyramid of the Dragon, which together with
that of the Moon and the Sun makes an almost perfect triangle,
which each side ca. 2200 metres long. No work has been carried
out on this third potential pyramid, nor on the “Temple
of Earth”, situated on the line between the Pyramid of the
Dragon and the Moon or the “Pyramid of Love”, between
the Sun and the Moon Pyramid, though not on their connecting line.
For the 2007 season, the entire team consisted of sixty people.
It is small – too small – to cover the enormous area
that needs to be covered. Hundreds more are required for the excavation
project to make faster progress.
the excavation of the Great Pyramid started, dynamite was the
explorers' favourite technique to penetrate into the dark and
mysterious interior of this artificial stone mountain as fast
as possible. Visoko’s pyramids have tunnels too; several,
but no dynamite is used here. Again, when stories about tunnels
that seemed to lead into, or at least in the direction of, one
or more pyramids, were heard, one local noted that when he constructed
his factory, right next to the river, six tunnel entrances were
filled in with cement. Some tunnel entrances, however, were not
blocked up. One sits on the grounds of the KTK factory. What is
most impressive about this site, is its location: the entrance
to the system is immediately next to the river Bosna, and the
system has not one but at least two entrances, almost next to
each other. Work here only began in October 2006, with a small
Further along the river, and further from the pyramids (ca. two
kilometres from the Pyramid of the Sun), is Ravne, another tunnel
system that so far has been explored to a depth of almost 200
metres. Here, the main tunnel has various offshoots, sometimes
running at 45 or 90 degrees angles. In the past, these side-tunnels
have been blocked off with a carefully positioned series of stones.
It appears they were blocked because they either lead to other
tunnels, or something was placed there; human burials come to
mind, but exploration of these side-tunnels has hardly begun,
and only in August 2007 did one team of archaeologist begin work
on one small section of one side-tunnel. Meanwhile, an expert
team of miners is digging its way further along the often filled-in
tunnel, wondering where it will lead to.
Where the tunnels end, you can see in what state the team find
the tunnel before it is cleared and studded: some parts filled
in, with sand that is easily removed by the team; because of the
nature of the work and the need not to miss or break any major
findings, it is nevertheless time-consuming. Some major discoveries
have already been made: one side-tunnel has been left as is, for
it was a location where stalactites were formed. Geologists concluded
that it would have taken 3000 years to form; it means that the
tunnel is at least from 1000 BC – and most likely older.
The main tunnels themselves, in Rave and KTK, have also revealed
enigmatic rocks, including one (broken) stone “wheel”
and rocks carrying inscriptions.
2006, a limited amount of work had been carried out, and I can
understand why some geologists – those without an agenda
or an axe to grind – spoke out for the natural origins of
the site. But more recent visitors – tourists and experts
alike – are confronted with an ever growing body of evidence,
which is stretching the possibility of everything being “freaks
of nature” to and beyond the breaking point. Hence, the
Russian academic and geophysicist Prof. Dr. Oleg Khavroshkin is
typical of those who now come and conclude that "the structures
in Visoko are not natural formations".
It is also why on July 9, 2007, members of the Federation of Bosnia
and Herzegovina, headed by Premier Nedzad Brankovic, paid a visit
to the various sites and unanimously gave their full support to
the foundation and its research project. It means that from 2008
onwards, the foundation will be allowed access to state funding;
so far, the work has been largely carried out by private donations
and sponsorship – and good will.
if the area covered is not substantial enough, the team is reaching
further afield too. Early on, Osmanagic’s attention was
drawn to Zavidovici, a town some forty kilometres from Visoko,
where a series of stone spheres were discovered. The preliminary
report about the mineralogical composition of the stone spheres
confirmed that they were composed of sedimentary rock and not
the product of volcanic eruptions as some geologists had theorised.
Their uniform and enigmatic appearance has provided additional
evidence that this region at one point may have had expert stoneworkers.
Which brings most to the all intriguing questions: when and how
old are these pyramids? Some people speak of that magical date
of 12,000 years old. In my opinion, I doubt it is that old. But
I would say it is old – even very old. And if I was willing
to put money on a specific date, I would say between 6000 and
Remove modern borders and this region sits within what Marija
Gimbutas labelled “Old Europe”. It was a culture that
existed from ca. 6000 BC onwards, and which had its major sites
– the first European civilisation – in and around
this general area. This culture was – granted – not
known as a pyramid building culture, but neither were the pharaohs
of the 18th Dynasty, even though a millennium before, those of
the 4th Dynasty created the Great Pyramid. But even if it is not
“Old Europe”, Osmanagic sums up the new paradigm:
“One ancient civilization in prehistory definitely lived
in this area, and the entire history of the world will be rewritten.”
In the end, whether 3000 or 10000 BC, at present, it is too early
to tell, and it doesn’t really matter.
“The New Pyramid Age”, I spoke about a certain “pyramid
template” that seems to have been applied, with some modifications,
to the design of all pyramids. For the Bosnian pyramids, it is
too early to speculate on such level. However.
In ancient Egypt, access to the pyramids was normally by boat,
to a Valley Temple, from where a causeway started that led the
visitor towards the pyramid. The name “causeway” is
something of a misnomer, for in origin, it was an artificially
constructed tunnel, sitting above ground, yet engineered to give
the impression one was walking underground.
Visoko, the entrances to the tunnel are most if not all situated
near or next to the river Bosna; the tunnels lead in the direction
of one or more pyramids. Should we draw a comparison between Bosnian
and Egyptian pyramids on this instance?
Speaking of Egypt: apart from one off the cuff remark that typify
Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Ministry of Culture, led by Farouk
Hosny and Gaber Asfour, the General Secretary of the Supreme Council
of Culture of Egypt, have also given their support to the Bosnian
Their help was based on visits in 2006 by Egyptologist Dr. Prof.
Mohammed Ibrahim Aly, who visited the site and stated that further
research was necessary in order to figure out who the original
architects of these colossal structures in Visoko were, as well
as what their purpose was. That same year, geologist Aly Barakat
spent 42 days on site, stating that the blocks found on the Pyramid
of the Sun were man-made, dating back thousands of years. Barakat
also stated that the complex of tunnels was the work of human
hands, if only because he personally found evidence of stone tools
in these Ravne tunnels.
excavations on the Pyramid of the Moon
years in, a lot – most – of the work still needs to
be carried out. Calls as early as August 2006 for “scientific
papers” to be produced were at best premature and largely
aimed to try to taint the foundation’s image, implying they
went about their work unprofessionally. But the work is also multi-disciplinary
and does not merely involve geologists and archaeologists. Dr.
Sulejman Redic, for example, discovered that vegetation
on the Pyramid of the Sun and Gornja Vratnica, found only on those
locations, should actually not be found in these regions at all;
its presence is normally only much further south, in warmer climates.
He therefore wondered who brought it here, and why it was found
only on these two sites.
He also underlined another aspect that is often neglected: the
Pyramid of the Sun is currently covered with trees. But during
the excavation work on the north side of the Pyramid of the Sun,
it became clear that the pine trees’ roots hit the cement
layer about one metre below the surface. Rather than penetrate
through the rock, they went sideways. As Redic pointed out:
pine trees can easily grow roots through natural rock, but their
very inability to penetrate this rock layer, shows that the layer
of apparent cement is just that.
week after my departure from Sarajevo, a team of Egyptian archaeologists
arrived on site for a detailed inspection of the work carried
out so far. At a press conference on September 3, Dr. Pr. Nabil
Mohamed Abdel Swelim stated that “the Bosnian Pyramid of
the Sun is the largest pyramid ever witnessed; it is an amazing
structure of a great importance for the entire world.” Swelim
is the holder of three PhDs in archaeology and Egyptology and
discovered four pyramids in Egypt.
He echoed my observations, that “this is an amazing discovery
and it is going to take us a lot of time to figure all this out,
meaning how these fascinating structures were built.” Accompanying
Swelin are Pr. Dr. Mona Fouad Aly, the Chair of the Restoration
Department, Archaeological University, Cairo and her colleague,
professor/Dr. Suleiman Hamed El Haweli, an expert on Pharaonic
Period Egypt at Archaeological University, Cairo and Dr. of Geology
Aly Barakat, who works at the Mineralogy Resource Institute in
Cairo, and who spent a considerable amount of time on site last
year. ”Everything that we have seen so far tells us that
human hands built these structures a long time ago. Of course,
a lot more research is needed, including laboratory analyses in
order to conclude how these structures were made, and most importantly,
we need to know their purpose; why they were built, and who built
them. I took a variety of samples from the locations in question
which will be analyzed in our labs in Cairo, and the Foundation
will be given our results," Pr. Fouad stated.
"We came here with many doubts, but after seeing everything,
there is no more room for any doubts,” concluded Dr. Swelim.
Professor/Dr. El Haveli stated that the pyramids of the Moon and
Sun partially originated by the work of nature and were later
modified by human hands.
you leave Visoko, the same questions pose themselves as with the
Great Pyramid: why? It is too premature to speculate on that.
But the specific thought here is also how long it would have taken
to construct these pyramids… and how long it will take to
clear them and an answer to the enigma can be suggested. For the
foundation, a mammoth task lies ahead. An important prize may
await them, for it would indeed totally change the pyramid debate,
and put Europe firmly on the pyramid map.