Ghost scientists
Article published on 13 June 2006

by Irna

According to the Foundation website, and the daily news given by the Foundation, Mr. Osmanagic has been able to gather, for the excavations of the "pyramid of the Sun", an important team, both qualified and international. The composition of this team was given on the Foundation website (a mention of these "committees" can be found in a press release from January 2006 (bs)) [1]. The organisation of the team seemed very serious, with committees and sub-committees. What is more, the Foundation news mention from time to time the planned arrival or participation of scientists coming from the whole world.

However, it can be noticed that the composition of this team (particularly the international one) changes quite often: some names appear, then disappear (unfortunately, the Foundation website is not referenced by the Internet Archive, so that the only traces of these modifications are temporary pages in Google Cache, or references to the previous versions disseminated on the numerous websites and forums that have questioned these changes).

These disappearances have sometimes a very simple explanation: some scientists have discovered that they were mentioned on the Foundation website as participants in the project when in fact they were not participating at all - it seems that some of them had exchanged one or two mails with Mr. Osmanagic, after he succeeded to put an announcement on the Archaeological Institute of America (en) website (announcement which was withdrawn in a very short time), but never engaged in a participation.

The first instance is Ms. Grace Fegan, Irish archaeologist, introduced on the Foundation website as "Senior Archaeologist" of Kilkenny County (a title that she modestly declines) and as participating in the project. What is more, the Foundation website offered an email address pretending Ms. Fegan could be contacted this way, but Ms. Fegan had never heard of this email, and had no way to read the possibly sent mails. You can find the complete mail where Ms. Fegan explains her position - and her amazement at these peculiarities - on various forums, for instance here (en) or there (en). Since this episode, Ms. Fegan’s name has disappeared from the list of "foreign experts" participating in Mr. Osmanagic’s project, but one can still find some traces of her ephemeral and unintentional involvement on numerous forums or websites where Mr. Osmanagic’s allegations have been copied (see for instance here (en).

The same misadventure has happened to Mr. Royce Richards, archaeologist from Australia; you will find here (en) his post on a blog, where he explains how he did contact Mr. Osmanagic to make inquiries about the project, and how, later, he found his name mentioned as "expert" in the team (with again a title of "Senior Archaeologist) on the Foundation website. One can understand that Mr. Richards is not totally satisfied to see his name linked with what he calls "a shonky attempt by a shonky person" ("shonky" (en) is a word from Australian slang, which means, at the best, "dubious"...).

Almost all the other foreign archaeologists mentioned by Mr. Osmanagic, be it on the Foundation website or in this interview of May 2006 (en), seem to have known the same kind of mishap: Allyson McDavid (en) doesn’t participate in the project, and is even not an archaeologist; Chris Mundigler (en) seems to have other projects for 2006, and confirms (en) that he is not a member of the team and never had any contact with Mr. Osmanagic; Bruce Hitchner (en) has never planned to send students and professors to participate in the excavations... As for Sead Pilav, a young archaeologist from Sweden, introduced (bs) as "coordinator for the archaeological committee" and in charge of the "cartography of the complexe of tunnels", his name and his photograph have disappeared from the Foundation website after the publication of this post (en).