Tag Archives: Semir “Sam” Osmanagic

Sam “Indiana Jones” Osmanagic and the Valley of Pyramids

There is something peculiar in the hills just 30 kilometres out of Sarajevo. Around the small town of Visoko, a little under an hour from Sarajevo by public bus, there are pyramids! Not just one or two pyramids, but five!

This pyramid complex was unveiled to the world in 2005 by Texas-based Bosnian businessman-turned-writer-turned-pyramidologist, Semir “Sam” Osmanagic. Sam, who’s also known as the Balkans’ Indiana Jones, reckons that the pyramids were built by an ancient Illyrian tribe that occupied the region sometime between 12,000 and 500 BC. Obviously having a penchant for dramatic, Sam has named the five pyramids as the “Pyramid of the Sun”, the “Pyramid of the Moon” (Plješevica hill), the “Pyramid of the (Bosnian) Dragon”, the “Pyramid of the Earth” and last but not least, the “Pyramid of Love”. The largest of these, the Pyramid of the Sun, is said to reach a height of 220 metres, thus making the Great Pyramid of Giza look like Lego.

Tallest pyramids in the world (Source: Wikipedia). The Sunway Pyramid is not listed in here. And we had no idea North Korea was constructing a 330m tall pyramid/hotel.

The Bosnian Pyramids, which have even been featured in the National Geographic and Smithsonian online magazines, do not lack their fair share of naysayers and disbelievers, who have hailed all sorts of accusations at Sam and his pyramids. Nevertheless, as famous circus showman P.T. Barnum is supposed to have once said, “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. Over 400,000 people have visited Visoko since October 2005 when Sam announced his discovery. The Pyramid of the Sun Foundation that he established has since garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in public donations and thousands more from state-owned companies. Even Malaysian property/gambling/resorts magnate, former logger and now proud owner of Cardiff City Football Club, Tan Sri Vincent Tan is said to have donated USD 220,000, following former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Mahathir’s visit to Visoko in 2006.

We, the Cabutlaris are no archeologists, but we do like pyramids. So we set out to Visoko.

Photo of Pyramid of the Sun taken from the bridge near the Visoko bus station. It does look like a decent pyramid from here.

Pyramid of the Sun, taken from another angle and a closer distance. Somehow the pyramid’s angles don’t seem right from here.

Walking through Visoko town. One thing’s for sure, the pyramids are great for the local economy

We came across a wedding a little further up the road

A sign that we were on the right track

After a steep climb we came to the start of the pyramid trail. There are two huts that provide information, run by the pyramid foundation.

The location of archeological finds on the Pyramid of the Sun. We only managed to walk to #5. And we did not see the beam of light shooting out from its apex

Map showing the entire pyramid complex. Once again, we did not see the beam of white light shooting out from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun

Technical mumbo-jumbo for the nerds out there

They sell cool souvenirs… Indy!

The Pyramid of the Sun is thought to have been made using an ancient form of concrete. Someone’s excavated this part

A better preserved section of exposed ancient “concrete”

Close up: Ancient concrete, or natural conglomerate?

Excited from seeing ancient concrete

It was a bit of a climb getting up to point #5 on the Pyramid of the Sun. So we just didn’t have the legs to walk all the way to the pyramids of the Moon, Earth, Dragon and Love. We did follow some signboards towards the underground tunnels that link the pyramids though. The signboards led us to a leather factory that looked abandoned. The guy sitting in the guardhouse shoved a brochure at us and seemed to offer to take us to the tunnel.  He seemed to be saying that the entrance to the tunnel was located either in or behind the factory compound.

Sara and our guide. He couldn’t speak much English – the only words he seemed to know were “pyramid” and “tunnel”. We can’t speak much Bosnian. The only two words we know are “hvala” (thank you) and “dobro” (good/fine)

Leather factory that may or may not be abandoned. Can still see the Pyramid of the Sun from here

Going into the tunnel. It was pitch black. We didn’t say anything to each other, but at this point, the thought that he might be planning to kill us did cross both our minds. Dylan cursed himself for not learning more Bosnian words. “Hvala” and “dobro” wouldn’t be any use in this situation

The one artifact that our guide pointed  out to us. Could this be an ancient wheel?

One of us said that he/she was claustrophobic, so we turned around. Turns out our guide wasn’t planning to kill us after all. He was actually really nice and even offered to take our photo

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