Last night Science Channel’s The Unexplained Files did an episode on a Siberian lake serpent and the so-called pyramids of Bosnia, large naturally eroded formations that have roughly conical shape. The claim that these hills are artificial and belong to an exceeding ancient pyramid building culture is primarily that of author Semir Osmanagić (also transliterated as Osmanagich), who also believes in ancient astronauts, that Hitler escaped to a secret Antarctic ice station, that Nazis secretly run America, and that the Freemasons are the secret rulers of the world. The European Association of Archaeologists evaluated his pyramid claim in 2006 and declared it false:
This scheme is a cruel hoax on an unsuspecting public and has no place in the world of genuine science. It is a waste of scarce resources that would be much better used in protecting the genuine archaeological heritage and is diverting attention from the pressing problems that are affecting professional archaeologists in Bosnia-Herzegovina on a daily basis.
I don’t care much about lake serpents, though I was amused that the show carried a warning that it would have disturbing material. (They didn’t find the lake monster, in case you care.) That said, I will omit coverage of the segment on lake serpents and instead focus on the discussion of the Bosnian pyramids as we “rethink everything you think you know,” as per the title sequence. What I think I know is that even fringe figures don’t agree that there are any massive pyramids in Bosnia, as geologist and fringe speculator Robert Schoch (of Sphinx water erosion and global pyramid culture fame) concluded after visiting the site several years ago. (He also accused Osmanagich of faking parts of the site.) It is primarily the least educated and most sensationalist fringe figures, like the late Philip Coppens, who wholeheartedly endorse the claims.
We open at Visoko in Bosnia, where we are introduced to Osmanagich, whom the show describes as an archaeologist. Though he holds a Ph.D. in social sciences, he is not employed in the archaeology field but in manufacturing. His dissertation from the University of Sarajevo claimed that the Maya actually predated the Olmec, were in communication with China, and had inherited crystal skulls from a lost civilization. Needless to say, his dissertation was not done as part of an archaeology program but under the auspices of the Faculty (Department) of Political Science. (Archaeology is taught in the Faculty of Philosophy.) Therefore, claiming him as an archaeologist appears to be unsupportable.
Osmanagich describes his belief that five cone-shaped hills (topping out at 700 feet) near Visoko are artificial and part of a “monumental landscape.” The show compares these to Khufu’s Great Pyramid, which it proceeds to wrongly illustrate with images of Khafre’s pyramid. Osmanagich reviews his excavations of the hills, in which he uncovered rectangular blocks of stone that almost obviously appear to be natural cleavages in the rock, but which he interprets as pieces of rock that were intentionally placed 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, based on the age of the overlaying soil. Even Robert Schoch recognizes that these slabs are natural cleavages and breaks, not artificial constructions.
Dr. Henry Chapman, an actual archaeologist from the University of Birmingham and a former cast member of the Time Team (2002-2011)—from which I remember him—is an expert in prehistoric Europe. He scoffs at Osmanagich’s “random” methodology. Chapman explains that Europeans of 10,000 BCE were hunter-gatherers, and no evidence of large monuments has been discovered. The narrator, however, undercuts Chapman by introducing into evidence Göbekli Tepe, the 11,500-year-old Turkish monumental site composed of ten-foot-tall stone pillars, which the narrator says proves “Stone Age hunter gatherers were capable of creating sophisticated [architecture] thousands of years earlier than had previously been thought.” Frequent use of adjectives like “huge” implies a similarity between the ten-foot stones in Turkey and the allegedly 700-foot-tall pyramids in Bosnia which the orders of magnitude in difference fail to support.
The show admits that excavations around Egypt’s pyramids revealed enormous amounts of organization and support services for hordes of workers, but Chapman explains that nothing similar was found in Bosnia. The narrator, however, will have none of it. “Without excavating any of the surrounding area, the archaeological establishment are quick to label Semir [Osmanagich]’s find ‘a cruel hoax,’ and some geologists question if he’s even found pyramids at all.” The anti-establishment tone of the sentence is in direct contradiction to the show’s professed claim (expressed to me by a producer last year) that the show remains neutral and takes no position on its stories.
Dr. Dougal Jerram, a geologist who is best known as a television presenter, declares that his expert opinion is that the Bosnian pyramids are simply “natural phenomena,” but the show does not let him explain why until after the break, when Jerram describes the way layers of sedimentary rock form what are called “flatirons” due to the triangle shape eroded spikes of uplifted rock form. Osmanagich, however, dismisses this explanation because he does not understand how stones crack and fracture and finds it difficult to believe that they could do so in geometric shapes rather than in random zigzags.
Osmanagich takes the crew underground, to where he is literally mining his way through the alleged pyramid, hauling out cart after cart of rock and soil to reveal what Osmanagich claims are ancient “tunnels” but which Chapman believes are Osmanagich’s own invention, created not by ancient people but by Osmanagich’s own excavations. The “walls” and the “fill,” Chapman said, are indistinguishable; therefore, Osmanagich is seeing what he wants to see. Osmanagich points to large piles of rocks and calls them tunnel walls, but nothing about them appears artificial. The rocks are rounded, for one, and they look for all the world like natural deposits.
The narrator though appears to want us to take Osmanagić’s side. The narration likens the tunnels to the chambers beneath Egyptian pyramids and then repeats a fringe history canard that we cannot know Egyptian pyramids were truly meant to be tombs since only three mummies were ever found within pyramids. These lines have no purpose in the show except to emphasize a spurious similarity between Egypt and Osmanagich’s imaginary pyramids, which contain no tombs—and no cultural material whatsoever, except… well, wait for it.
As we enter the second-to-last segment of the Bosnian pyramid half of the episode, Osmanagich introduces us to the only “evidence” of human culture within these alleged pyramids. They are a series of large, rounded, and eroded stones he calls “megaliths” but which look like completely natural rocks. They were sly that way, those ancient builders. Osmanagić explains that the water which flows under the pyramids releases “negative ions” that “activates the quartz crystal” in the large megaliths, which then begin their “vibration” to “generate electromagnetic fields, which can be measured with our scientific instruments, so it seems that these megaliths are actually technology. And the pyramid is actually a huge energy amplifier.”
For support, the show turns to Robert Lomas, whom the narrator describes as a “physicist” but declines to inform readers is a conspiracy theorist who believes an ancient cult of Freemasons has operated since prehistory, and that Nikola Tesla was a suppressed super-genius. Freemasons have dismissed Lomas’s work as an elaborate hoax, but it is true that he holds a 1972 Ph.D. in solid state physics. Lomas has a potential conflict of interest in evaluating Osmanagich and his work since his claims about Freemasons partially contradict with those of Osmanagich. (Lomas believes Masonry holds spiritual Egyptian and Jesus Bloodline secrets, but Osmanagich connects the group to space aliens and world domination.) More to the point, many of the claims Lomas makes about prehistory seem to contradict those of Osmanagich—let us note that Lomas believes that the ancients that survived the Flood (caused by comet fragments) in underground bunkers due to warnings from precision observatories like Stonehenge— giving him motive for dismissing the claims of Osmanagich. Lomas, when not chronicling Freemason conspiracies, also writes on the Neolithic period, and adding a lost high tech, possibly extraterrestrial, culture prior to that would undermine his work. The show does not address this concern.
Lomas dismisses Osmanagich’s claims about the pyramid as an energy source as ridiculous since, he says, while water always generates an EMF field in the presence of quartz, there is no way to pump water through the alleged pyramid. Osmanagich, though, assumes that the quartz got charged up in the basement and passed its charge along a network of quartz veins running throughout the pyramids. This would seem to contradict his idea that the rocks were artificially arranged from quarried stone, since it implies that the ancients embedded veins of quartz in each block and arranged them so they would connect with no breaks. How might that work?
As we finish up, a Croatian scientist named Slobodan Mizdrak tests the pyramid for electrical anomalies. He is introduced as a physicist, but I can find no confirmation of this, or any reference to him outside of fringe claims about the Bosnian pyramid and fringe websites. He is a consultant for the Association of Nikola Tesla: Genius for the Future. He appears to be a fringe believer in imaginary electrical phenomena based on Tesla’s wireless electricity imaginings, from scattered references online. According to his own website, unreported by Science Channel, Mizdrak believes that we need to saturate our air with silver ions to protect our bodies from disease (silver has some antiseptic properties), that we can collect free energy from radio waves surrounding us, and that you should pay him for his actual primary business—computer backup services.
Mizdrak also credits Erich von Däniken as his inspiration and guide!
He first conducted his pyramid electrical experiment in 2012 and claimed to have found an “energy beam” beneath the pyramid, a claim he repeats here. However, Mizdrak also claims that the “energy beam” grows stronger the farther away from the hill one goes, which would seem to imply that the source—of whatever the magnetic anomaly is, should it really exist—lies not within the hill but somewhere else. Instead, Mizdrak declares that amazing new physics are at work that he cannot explain.
The show finishes with the claim that more than 90% of pyramids worldwide are also energy beam production facilities that vibrate on the same frequency. Despite the show’s claims to neutrality, not a single contrary word is spoken, nor does the show acknowledge that the supposedly independent Mizdrak, introduced as an expert unrelated to Osmanagich, has been working with Osmanagich since 2010 on the pyramids and is an ancient astronaut theorist, like his friend, Osmanagich, who appears from time to time on Ancient Aliens.
Osmanagich claims he’ll get a true construction date for the pyramid by dating the fossil impression of a leaf he found in a rock on the hillside. He claims he radiocarbon dated the fossilized leaf impression to 29,200 years before present. How does one radiocarbon date an impression in a rock? There’s nothing organic about a rock impression. The show quietly admits that no one has verified the claims, but the narration glosses over this quickly to get to the point where Osmanagich tells us that space aliens or inter-dimensional travelers must have built the energy beams because they predate the earliest human civilizations. (No, this does not follow logically—but who uses logic here?) The narrator concludes that “no one can be certain” whether space aliens built energy beams into the pyramids or whether the whole thing is just a big pile of naturally occurring dirt. Since the last skeptic spoke ten minutes earlier, we know which side the producers want you to come down on.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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