Enquête sur les pyramides de Bosnie et quelques autres cas de pseudo-archéologie
Article published on 6 November 2007
After a long wait, the Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat’s report, made after his stay in Visoko in 2006, has at last been published on the Foundation website. You can read it here (en), or download the .pdf file hereunder:
This much expected report may raise more questions, concerning its form and concerning its substance, than it gives answers. Concerning its form, the first question one may ask is: why so long a delay for its publication? Dr. Barakat sojourned in Visoko from the middle of May to the end of June 2006; the report published on the 3rd of November 2007 is apparently dated from June 2006. Even if they needed time to translate it from Arabic, why wasn’t it made available sooner?
The second question is: is the text published on the Fondation website actually the complete report written by Dr. Barakat? It is indeed a quite short text (4 pages), very general, without any illustration: no photograph, no geological map, not even a schema showing the main geological and structural features; no survey of the dips, no geomorphological sketch... I am personnally quite disappointed, I was waiting, after a stay of more than a month in Visoko, something rather more detailed. One can also notice the total lack of references, rather unusual in a scientific work: usually, for a geological study, even a preliminary one, one gives at least the references for the geological and topographic maps, as well as the scientific bibliography about the region .
Concerning its substance, this report may rise some controversy, and Mr. Osmanagic’s opponents as well as his supporters may found in it grist for each of their mill.
Let’s point first to some inconsistencies existing between this report, and the words the Foundation website used to put in Dr. Barakat’s mouth during 2006. For instance, in this text (bs) (not translated in English) giving "Dr. Barakat’s conclusions" on the 16th of May 2006, are mentioned for the North and East sides of Visocica some "casted blocks" and "ancient concrete", with a "connective material identical to the one used in Egyptian pyramids"; however the report doesn’t mention any "concrete": Visocica blocks are indeed described as a natural material, a conglomerate formed in the Miocen era. In the same text in May 2006, the "plateau" West of Visocica is said to be an example of "similarity" with the Egyptian pyramids, with the same construction methods (of superimposed steps); on the contrary, this plateau is described in the report as a "natural sandstone plateau". And as for the "pyramid of the Moon", which was compared to the Egyptian step pyramids, it is not mentioned at all in the report, nor are the stone spheres - of which, according to the Foundation, Dr. Barakat had confirmed the artificial origin.
More generally speaking, this report is far from supporting all the hypothesis and claims made by Mr. Osmanagic : no more "access plateau" made by man, but rather a natural plateau; no more pyramids with four identical sides oriented towards the cardinal points, but "only one regular side triangularly shaped" and another one "nearly regular"; no more identical and regular slopes for the four sides, but "the slope of each face is different from place to place"; no more pyramids "built" by an unknown civilization 12,000 or 20,000 years ago, but rather "natural hills that were later modified in places by human activities, possibly during several historical episodes"...
The possibility of human intervention on Visocica was never doubted by Mr. Osmanagic’s opponents, who never claimed, contrary to what some pyramid supporters would make us believe (en), that "everything was natural". Not even mentioning the medieval interventions (medieval town and military use with the Visoki fortress), the numerous evidences of prehistoric and protohistoric human settlements on Visocica show that the strategic position of the hill above the natural route of the Bosna river was noticed and used by man in these times. Nothing surprising in the fact that one can find places with remains of human intervention.
However, what Dr. Barakat mentions in his report is something more than a simple defensive arrangement, as he clearly considers, with all the usual caution ("the results are still inconclusive"), a modification of the hill shape to give it a pyramidal look: "human hands sculptured the body of the pyramid from top to bottom", "Humans [...] started to adapt the shape of this hill in the form of a pyramid". His opinion then seems, despite the inconsistencies mentioned above, to confirm Mr. Osmanagic’s main hypothesis, that is the existence of pyramids, if not constructed, at least shaped by man, in Bosnia. So that it would be very interesting to know exactly which evidence Dr. Barakat used to infer this conclusion; but unfortunately the arguments he presents in his report do not appear to be very strongly established.
His first argument is the classical "nature couldn’t do it": "natural processes can create hazards, but not such pyramidal forms as these". This argument, heard hundreds of times before, is not very scientific; Dr. Barakat acknowledges himself that the pyramidal shape is quite approximative, and that the hills with a triangular side are not few in the region. No natural law forbids that the events of the geomorphological history create a hill with two triangular or nearly triangular sides instead of one. I’m not sure that his idea according to which "the creation of a pyramidal shape of a mass or a hill had required an acting of the natural processes on each face with the same rate and same period of time" would be very convincing to a geomorphologist, used to see for instance hogbacks where the faces are subject to processes of different nature and rythm. In the example hereunder of a hogback in Australia, the right side (a dip slope made by a resistant inclined layer) is subject mostly to slow weathering processes, when the other sides are rather subject to a much quicker mechanical erosion; however the slopes are nearly identical:
In short, the fact that "the natural processes mainly formed irregular rounded hills" does not allow to exclude the possibility, linked to particular topographic or structural features (for Visocica internal structure, quite similar to that of the above Australian hill, see this article), that these same natural processes could produce a more or less pyramidal shape.
Dr. Barakat’s second argument adresses the "covering" of conglomerate blocks that is present on the North and East faces of Visocica. He justly considers that it is the presence of these conglomerate slabs that makes these sides of the hill so regular ("the presence of these blocks is the reason for the regularity of this face"). But, when this feature can be perfectly explained by geological causes (the surface of the North and East sides of Visocica are dip slopes, located on the flank of an anticline, where the topography matches a hard layer which resisted erosion, the conglomerate layer; see here for more details), he prefers the anthropic explanation: he considers these conglomerate slabs have been added by man after a leveling of the surface ("such work required the flattening of the surfaces of the hill to be evened out with the blocks which were being added"), so that they would actually be a protective or decorative dressing, remaining today only on parts of the "pyramid".
Gigantic conglomerate slabs disposed on a previously leveled hill, why not, the hypothesis presents no impossibility. But the problem is that Dr. Barakat does not explain at all why he favours this hypothesis, which are the precise features that make him think that these slabs were set by man and that their slope is not the natural dip of the layers. A strong argument, for instance, would have been the existence of different dips for the superficial slabs and for the natural underlying layers, as in the sketch hereunder:
However I never noticed anything like this on the numerous photographs published by the Foundation, where the dip, when it can be observed, seems to be identical on the surface and below. To make it short, before I accept Dr. Barakat’s hypothesis, I would have liked to learn much more about the elements which led him to this opinion. Let’s hope that he is preparing a more detailed article for a scientific conference or a peer-reviewed magazine...
Last, I noticed in this Dr. Barakat’s report the mention of a "nice small artifact" said to have been found by the Italian geologist Andretta in the Ravne tunnel; we will learn nothing more about this artifact, about which, as far as I know, the Foundation never said anything. Shall we add it to the list of "missing artifacts" discussed here? On the other side, Dr. Barakat doesn’t mention at all in his report the archaeological findings he claimed to have made during his stay according to this article in the Daily Star Egypt (en). Of course, as Dr. Barakat is not an archaeologist, one would not expect a report on these findings, but one would appreciate to learn, one of these days, a little bit more about these tools, human bones, and this 5,000 years old grave that the Foundation never mentioned anywhere...
To conclude this, with all due respect to Dr. Barakat, it seems to me that this report will not be able to bring real answers to the "pyramids" question. The existence of the Bosnian "pyramids", be they built or simply "shaped" on natural hills, is still not substantiated by any serious scientific argument - nor by any archaeological evidence.