Mystery Monday: Seeking the “Pyramids” of Visoko, Bosnia
The pyramids were “discovered” in 2005, when Bosnian archeologist Semir Osmanagic announced that three hills surrounding Visoko were actually man-made pyramids. (To be precise, hills that men formed into pyramids.) He then claimed that the pyramids could have been as tall as the Great Pyramid of Giza and were probably older. A media storm ensued, followed by pyramid-themed hostels, restaurants and souvenirs.
The rush of a new discovery was tempered a year later, when twenty-one historians, geologists and archaeologists signed a letter denouncing the pyramid research as “amateurish.” Following the letter’s publication, some signees received threatening phone calls and letters for doubting the veracity of the Visoko pyramids. The debate rages on, but Osmanagich is undeterred. He has begun to excavate several “ancient” tunnels that he claims lead to the pyramids.
Majmun and I decided to investigate. As we drove into Visoko, there was no mistaking the pyramids. Or pyramid-shaped mountains, depending on who you talk to. But the pyramid-mania seems to have died down; we drew polite but quizzical looks around town. However we weren’t the only tourists. One slightly wacky German guy encouraged us to hike to a pyramid summit and imbibe the pyramid’s mystical, magnetic qualities. Maybe later, we agreed. We decided to see the tunnels first.
Signs for the pyramid tunnels led us to a gated factory. This seemed strange. Suddenly, a man came by and asked us, in Serbian/Bosnian, if we wanted to see the tunnels. As we nodded yes he took a flashlight out of the guard post and began to walk us through an empty textile factory. This seemed stranger.
Oddly, following him didn’t feel dangerous. I mean, two foreign visitors following a stranger into an empty factory complex? To go into an even emptier tunnel? I’ve seen horror movies based on less. But our self-styled guide seemed happy to have visitors to talk to. He told us (as far as I could make out) that children swimming in the nearby river found the tunnel many years ago. Though the pyramids are estimated to be up to 12,000 years old, the tunnel was no more than 5,000 years old.
Armed with a single flashlight, there wasn’t much to see, but the atmosphere was appropriately creepy. We looked at an old well that hardly seemed ancient, but it was still fun to traipse around and pretend to be archeologists ourselves. My large camera was acting wonky while we were there, prompting us to consider whether the alleged magnetic forces of the pyramids were interfering with my camera, or whether I didn’t know how to adjust it in the dark. Probably the latter. But you never know…
After tipping our new friend, we decided to drive to the Pyramid of the Sun. However, the road is impassable without four wheel-drive, and we were ill-equipped for the hike up the mountain, excuse me, pyramid. After talking to another family who was backtracking down the path, we decided to celebrate Visoko by eating pyramid-shaped food instead.
We may not have solved the Bosnian Pyramid Mystery, we did find decent Balkan pizza. Not a bad find for half a day’s work…