|16 April 2006
Digging starts on 'Europe's first pyramids' in Bosnia
Excavation work started on what a Bosnian explorer claims to be Europe's first pyramids in an area north of Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina). A team of experts started digging at the site of a 3.8-kilometer tunnel believed to lead to one of the two structures resembling pyramids, about 30 kilometers from the Bosnian capital. "This is definitely not a natural formation," said geologist Nadja Nukic. Teams descended about 260 metres (284 yards) into the tunnel but found the rest of the way blocked by a cave-in.
Satellite photographs and thermal imaging revealed two other, smaller pyramid-shaped hills in the Visoko Valley, which archaeologists believe the tunnels could lead to. As residents of the nearby town of Visoko eagerly watched, digging also began on one of ten 20-by-50 meter (65-by-165 foot) wells on the lower slopes of a hill. According to anthropologists there is evidence of 7,000-year-old human settlements in the valley. German archaeologists also recently found 24,000 Neolithic artefacts one metre below ground.
Last year explorer Semir Osmanagic started initial probes in the area convinced that the two 'constructions' were the work of builders from an unknown civilization who shaped the hill into a 'step pyramid' then coated it with a kind of primitive concrete.
Visocica Hill, which Osmanagic refers to as the 'Bosnian pyramid of the sun', stands some 220 meters high and has long been shrouded in local legend. Initial research on the hill found that it has perfectly shaped, 45-degree slopes pointing toward the cardinal points and a flat top. Under layers of dirt, workers discovered a paved entrance plateau, entrances to tunnels and large stone blocks that might be part of a pyramid's outer surface.
Osmanagic says that he sees astonishing similarities between the structures and Mexican pyramids dating back to about 200 CE, which also come in pairs, one believed to represent the Sun and the other the Moon. The excavation work led by the foundation 'The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun' that gathers local archaeologists will last for 200 days, is expected to cost some $150,000 and the first row results would be known in three weeks, Osmanagic said. Two experts from Egypt are due to join the team in mid-May.
The director of the Visoko Historic Heritage museum, Senad Hodovic, says he is no sceptic. "The pyramids are obviously the work of man. But we need proper and serious analysis to show who built them and when." Local souvenir shops selling oriental style coffee pots and plates now offer slippers, ceramic coin-boxes, T-shirts and brandy with pyramid logos. "They may or may not prove that the pyramids exist but it's good for business," souvenir shop owner Esref Fatic said, adding foreign tourists had appeared in the town recently.
Sources: Middle East Times (14 April 2006), BBC News, Iol.co.za, Irish Independent (15 April 2006)
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