1 comments See the comments
Table of contents
As one of my correspondents recently noted, the "official" Foundation Team has just been joined by a "complementary" team consisting of various members of the Foundation staff (Ms. Acconci, Amir Susa or "Zombie") together with assorted "independent researchers", either born, or resident, in Italy. The formation of this "complementary team", as it was described on the Foundation website on 21st January 2011, had already been announced on 12th December 2010 by the team’s founder members on their website, at the end of this article on the Ravne Tunnel.
First point: as Abacus was quick to point out, the terms used to describe this new team, whether on the Foundation website or on their own site , are highly misleading. Let readers judge for themselves : "’SB Research Group’ is an inter-university and inter-disciplinary team established by Universities of Trieste and Milan"; "SB Research Group is a multidisciplinary university project" and "This research project combines elements of two Italian universities, Trieste and Milan". While, as discussed below, this so-called research group does indeed include two academics involved in Higher Education, from the University of Trieste and from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan (not the University of Milan), the undertaking is by no means a "university project": it was not established, supervised or approved by either of these two universities, and it is possible that they do not even know of its existence . The teachers in question are not participating in their professional capacities, but as amateurs, in areas that have no connection with their chosen academic fields.
Who are the members of this "complementary team"? To each according to his rank: let’s start with the "independent investigator," Nenad Djurdjevic . Described in this document (at the foot of the page)  or on this forum (it) as a "Croatian historian living in Italy", or as a "Scholar of history, ancient cultures, religion and mythology" on the group website, his day job is actually much more prosaic : customer service manager for an electric vehicle manufacturer in Bergamo. This fact does not, of course, mean that one cannot be an amateur historian, but it does rather detract from the authority with which he makes definitive pronouncements such as the one concerning this object :
The name of Nenad Djurdjevic is of course well known to readers of this site. His involvement in the question of the Bosnian "pyramids" has already been mentioned on several occasions. Ever since 2006, although never an official Foundation member, he has nevertheless worked tirelessly to promote Mr. Osmanagic’s theories on the Web. In 2006-2008, under the username "Hyperborean", he was principal organizer and moderator of the bosnian-pyramid.com forum , whose rules forbade members to deny the existence of the "pyramids". His moderation style was noteworthy for its aggression and lack of balance ; he was quick to banish opponents of the "pyramids", while, on the other hand, allowing pyramid supporters to direct pages of insults at their opponents, and letting some people indulge in sickening anti-Semitic rants. In late 2008, he closed that forum , and now manages two sites with virtually identical content : http://www.bosnian-pyramid.org/, and this blog : http://bpblognews.blogspot.com/, whilst still continuing to post under the name of Hyperborean on several Italian and English forums.
To claim that Mr. Djurdjevic’s approach is one characterized by perfect honesty would be a rather tall order. Even during the time of the now defunct bosnian-pyramid.com forum, blogger and anthropologist Afarensis caught him red-handed altering a quote in one of his posts ; and I myself, in this article (see the 15th August update), noted translations that one would hardly have expected from someone whose native language was Bosnian, and about which the least that can be said is that they totally misrepresented the positions of thepeople cited. Recently, Mr. Djurdjevic has come up with two new examples of his intellectual integrity.
For the first example, we have to go back a little. On 1st April 2007, I came up with an inoffensive April Fool, which had me pretending to believe that there had been a discovery on one of the "pyramids" of an archaeological treasure consisting of carvings and sculptures ... of fish! (The French term for an April Fool is, of course, "poisson d’avril", "April fish" - Trans.) The article, illustrated with photos of real artefacts that nevertheless had no connection with Bosnia (carvings from Alta in Norway, and from the Abri du Poisson in France, as well as various artifacts from the French Paleolithic), was punctuated with various more or less obvious butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-the-mouth comments designed to leave no doubt, after the first two or three paragraphs, that the piece was intended purely as a parody. Little did I imagine that some gullible, or semi–literate, Internet users would take this light-hearted jest seriously ; and yet this is what happened, for example, on this forum (fr), and also on this site (bs), where the author, during the course of an article on Mr. Ahmed Bosnic, quoted verbatim my pseudo- information and accompanying photos!
But now the fun really starts. Mr. Djurdjevic, as an expert on the Bosnian pyramids, was invited to answer questions (it) from visitors to an Italian UFO site. In reply to one question (it), he stated that elements of "rock art depicting men fishing in a boat" and "paintings and artifacts in the shape of various fish species now unknown" had been found near the "pyramids" ("Sono state scoperte delle arti rupestri che raffigurano uomini in barca che vanno a pesca, raffigurazioni e manufatti a forma di diverse specie di pesce oggi sconosciute "). To a forum participant who asked (it) if there were photos of these "unknown fish," or whether this information was still classified, he provided a link (it) to one of the abovementioned sites (bs) that had reproduced my "April Fool" jokes, stating that there were "some pictures of discoveries about the prehistoric fish", although "the material was still being analysed by experts" ("Alcune fotografie riguardanti le scoperte fatte a Visoko in merito di pesca preistorica possono essere consultate in anteprima al seguente link: http://sanela.info/ext/wp/sanela/2009/bosanske-piramide-iz-ugla-ahmeda-bosnia. I materiali comunque, sono ancora sotto esame e al vaglio degli esperti").
A Web-user unfamiliar with the "pyramids" affair might conceivably have confused my French Paleolithic fish with Mr. Osmanagic’s discoveries. Mr. Djurdjevic, however, had an in-depth knowledge of the "artifacts" found by the Foundation, and knew very well that none of these fish came from Visoko. He had all the more reason to know about it through having already seen my paper on the " pyramid fishermen", which had been copied and pasted by someone on his forum at the time; it had made him see red (for the whole story, see this article, which includes screen shots of pages no longer to be found on the forum). We can try to give Mr. Djurdjevic the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that he had forgotten a story that had happened three years previously ; but when a reader reminded him of this particular April Fool, did he apologize for the confusion and sort things out? Far from it : he sent (it) a long, incoherent and aggressive reply, expatiating on the damage that, so he maintained, was caused by "official" archaeologists on various sites in the region. This, of course, had nothing to do with his recent description of a so-called discovery that he had good cause to know had never taken place. This tactic is, moreover, one much favoured by M. Djurdjevic : when he feels that he is being pushed into a corner during a discussion, he immediately switches to another subject that he thinks might give him material to mount an attack.
A final example of Mr. Djurdjevic’s tactics is to be found in the illumination below:
There was a brief shot of this illumination during a Spanish television programme mentioned here (beginning of Part 3), that was released in October 2010. Mr. Djurdjevic put a copy of this miniature on his website, his blog and various forums, describing it as a representation of the coronation of a thirteenth century king of Bosnia. His reasoning was obvious: if the pyramid was depicted on a medieval Bosnian manuscript, it must bolster the case for its existence. Mr. Djurdjevic even went so far as to speculate on the identity of the king in question, surmising (it) that it could have been Tvrtko I, who was crowned near Visoko in 1377, which would push the date of the manuscript into the fourteenth century.
Bad luck: the illumination in question has nothing to do with Bosnia, or with Tvrtko I, or with Visoko. It comes from a well-known fourteenth century manuscript known as the Kepes Kronika (hu) or Chronica Picta, which traces the history of the kingdom of Hungary. The scene depicted is that of the coronation, in 1162, of King Stephen III of Hungary, which, in common with all coronations of Hungarian kings until the sixteenth century, took place in Székesfehérvár. The pyramid in the background has nothing to do with those of Mr. Osmanagic, nor with any real mountain: in this Hungarian chronicle are many other examples of what are stylized representations of mountains, more or less pyramidal in shape:
Readers anxious to know more may consult the complete manuscript on this link (please note : long pdf download); the illumination mentioned above is on page 54, and the scene of the coronation of Stephen III is on page 121).
Mr. Djurdjevic could hardly have claimed not to recognize the Hungarian origin of the illumination. The fact is that this very miniature, together with two others, had been published on the Foundation website in June 2010, less than five months previously ; they were accompanied by a letter from a Hungarian engineer which gave their origin. What was more, a conscientious and informed reader went to some trouble to point out (it) on various forums (it) Mr. Djurdjevic’s "mistake". Once again, was Mr. Djurdjevic about to apologize and correct the false attribution? Oh no : after making a vague attempt to construct an argument (it) based on the fact that Bosnia was at that time part of kingdom of Hungary, and on the so-called symbolism (it) of the image, he contented himself with merely editing his articles to remove all references to any king of Bosnia, and took good care to avoid correcting his description of the miniature on the forums where he had posted it. There was, for example, no response from him on this subject during the days and weeks after this post, which had the effect of leaving English readers convinced that there existed a "Bosnian codex" representing the Visoko pyramid...
Another very active member of the "SB Research Group, and probably its founder, is one Paolo Debertolis, a dentist by profession, although ready enough to describe himself as an "anthropologist". Unlike many of the other "pyramid-enthusiasts," Mr. Debertolis does have a proper scientific background, as a dental specialist (it) and researcher (it) at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Trieste. What is more, he does not fail to make good use of his academic position, whether by inserting (as we saw earlier) the name and logo of the University of Trieste on the "research group" website and document headers, or by using the argument from authority (it): " Ora, come professore universitario di ruolo da 24 anni credo di poterti dare la sicurezza di un giusto approccio al problema ": "As I have been a university professor for some 24 years now, I think you can rest assured that I know how to approach the question in the correct manner." But, whatever his skills in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery, it remains unclear what authority the 24 years of dentistry experience would give him on geological or archeological questions . Similarly, the label of "anthropologist" that he frequently applies to himself seems highly debatable: he states that he occupies the "Chair of Dental Archaeology" at the University of Trieste ("He Holds the Chair of Legal Dentistry, Odontology and Dental Archaeology"). Although he does run a medico-legal odontology course (it), an examination of its content reveals that it focuses primarily on the regulatory, legal and judicial aspects of dentistry, and that the archaeological applications of odontology occupies a somewhat secondary place. Furthermore, as far as I know, Mr. Osmanagic has yet to announce the discovery of any human remains that lend themselves to being studied by our anthropologist ... Undoubtedly, though, a "research group" consisting of a "Croatian historian" and an "Italian anthropologist" seems far more credible than it would if they said that they were actually a dentist and a customer service manager ...
It is indisputable, at any rate, that Professor Debertolis can boast an advanced science education. It is therefore all the more surprising that, besides his professional activities and the Bosnian "pyramids", his main interest seems to be focussed on the year 2012 and the various theories and prophecies associated with it. In fact, there is a website devoted to it (it)  entitled "Save ourselves in 2012," with an accompanying forum (former (it) and new (it) forum) on which Mr. Debertolis posts under the name "Pablito," a pseudonym that also appears on other forums devoted to 2012 such as "nibiru2012" (it). Although Mr. Debertolis claims to study the 2012 phenomenon from an "objective" and non-catastrophist (it) viewpoint, it is clear that he firmly believes that something significant is to take place in 2012, and that we need to make preparations for it (it). Beneath a thin veneer of science, "Pablito’s" posts contain the same ideas and mistakes as those found on every 2012 forum: theories of Charles Hapgood, long since disproven ; misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Maya  calendars and "prophecies" ; a burgeoning number of natural disasters ...
Moreover, even if, as is his wont, Debertolis claims to adopt a position of strict scientific neutrality, it does not prevent him, during discussions on the "pyramids", from raising the subject of certain "phenomena" about which the least that can be said is that they belong to the world of pseudo-science : "telluric currents" and Hartmann grid, stones imbued with thaumaturgic powers, mysterious entities formed of mist ... see, for example, this account (Italian version) of a visit to the Ravne tunnel. Looking further afield, when it comes to the question of the Bosnian "pyramids", Mr. Debertolis can seem somewhat inclined to forget about scientific thought and critical thinking. Without the slightest reservation, he readily admits the unsupported assertions of Mr. Osmanagic about the artificial nature of the materials that form the "pyramids", the walls and the "monoliths" in the Ravne tunnel, and refuses (it) even to ask whether there actually are any "pyramids" ("Quindi per me la prova definitiva dell’esistenza di piramidi in Bosnia è un problema ormai superato"); the arguments on which this conviction rests remain unknown.
The reactions of Mr. Debertolis on being contradicted also bear all the hall-marks of pseudo-science. The "Nibiru2012" forum provides a recent example of this when one of the discussion participants, "Schweinsteiger," starts by very politely asking a series of questions. First, Schweinsteiger tries to find out more (it) about the features that convinced the professor Debertolis that the pyramids were artificial, and expresses surprise at the absence of reports on key elements of Mr. Osmanagic’s theory : in particular, on specific items deemed to reliably exclude a natural origin both for the pyramids, and also for their constituent parts. "Pablito" begins by replying (it) ... that he will reply later. Then he states (it) that he cannot say anything about the documentation produced by the Osmanagic Foundation, of which he is not a member. The result is that he never replies to the basic question: how, and on the basis of what documentation, has he become convinced of the artificial nature of the "pyramids"? His interlocutor, courteous as ever, then turns (it) to Pablito’s theory concerning the construction of the Ravne tunnel. Mr. Debertolis considers  that the tunnels were not in fact dug through the rock, but constructed of concrete outdoors and subsequently covered with a layer of earth 20 metres thick. "Schweinsteiger" raises the obvious question: has there been a stratigraphic study of the layers overlying the tunnel? Such a study would either establish, or completely invalidate, Mr. Debertolis’ theory. The difference between natural stratigraphy - where we find the same sequence of layers as in the surrounding region - and a mound of earth dragged into place, would be obvious to any geologist : except, perhaps, to the official Foundation geologist ... Pablito’s reply (it)  clearly tries to sidestep the issue: he enlarges upon the honeycomb of tunnels, comes up with suggestions about their possible function, and eventually concedes that the stratigraphy of the overlying layers does not greatly interest him. As Schweinsteiger remarks (it), Mr. Debertolis and his friends work from impressions, from appearances, from similarities, and obviously don’t concern themselves with taking account of evidence ... Finally, as the questions of his interlocutor start to become more and more specific, Mr. Debertolis dons the robes of offended dignity, and announces (it) that he is leaving the discussion, calling on the moderators to impose "order" on the critics, whom he describes as "confrontational"...
The remaining members of the " SB Research Group " are far less "interesting" than the "historian" or the "anthropologist". They seem to be much less active, and post little or not at all on the forums and blogs of the two group "leaders". Apart from Sara Acconci, who has already been mentioned, there is a photographer, Andrea Venturini, who puts in an appearance from time to time (it) on the Nibiru2012 forum ; an architect, Lucia Krasovec Lucas, who teaches, not at the University of Milan, as announced on the Foundation website, but at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan (it), and also at the University of Trieste; Professor Debertolis’ Hungarian assistant, Valeria Hocza, who is never mentioned on the net except in the context of the Bosnian "pyramids"; various consultants (instrumentation, PR) ... Finally, there is also the "foreman," Amir Susa, known as "Zombie", who is also employed by the Osmanagic Foundation, for whom he performs the role of "excavation supervisor." Amir Susa comes from Visoko, runs a guesthouse (bs) in the mountains near the village of Gorani, and has been more or less omnipresent ever since the affair of the pyramids took off. He has participated in the work of the Foundation ever since its inception, and is probably the strongest supporter of Mr. Osmanagic and his pyramids . Since 2006, despite the lack of any particular archeological expertise, his life has been devoted to digging into every corner of the "pyramids" - quite without method or any scientific supervision, according to the few archaeologists who have passed through the Foundation. Indeed, he is described, in several interviews given by former Foundation employees in January 2008 to the magazine BHDani, as someone who was "digging clandestine test-pits ;" and all the field archaeologists have complained about him: "[I] categorically protested against the fact that Amir Susa Zombi had authority to make a mess, dig, excavate literally hither, thither and yon ...", " the Pyramid of the Moon supervisor had been excavating since the morning [without consulting the site archaeologist], ", "On the Pyramid of the Moon, because of the way that things are done, not only by the chairman of the Steering Committee, but also by the person currently responsible for the conduct of this work, I still do not know how many test-pits have been opened up"... Today "excavation technical manager," "Zombie" should no longer have to put up with troublemakers who stop him digging around in circles ; and his membership of the "SB Research Group" should probably open up new fields of "business" for him!
At the end of the day, we cannot say that this "complementary team" has much more substance than the first- perhaps even less, because at least the former had a few archeology students who had come to spend part of their vacation in Visoko. In conclusion, the question that might be asked concerns the position of Sara Acconci, who, despite her youth, is the only professional archaeologist in the two teams. Her participation in the "SB Research Group" causes me to wonder: has she been duped? Can she really think that she is surrounded by "experts", as she seems to be saying in this series of interviews (it)?