Photographer Thomas Nolf has .... embarked on an adventure to explore the famous so-called “pyramids” of Visoko, discovered in 2005 by a controversial self-styled archaeologist. Nolf’s upcoming book The Pyramid Hills and Other Wayside Discoveries – put together from his perspective as a sociologist-turned-photographer – presents an alternative history of the country based around the pyramids and set apart from familiar narratives of nationalism and ethnic hatred.
So what and where are these famous Pyramids of Bosnia??
Not just any pyramid, but what Osmanagich calls the Pyramid of the Moon, the world's largest—and oldest—step pyramid. Looming above the opposite side of town is the so-called Pyramid of the Sun—also known as Visocica Hill—which, at 720 feet, also dwarfs the Great Pyramids of Egypt. A third pyramid, he says, is in the nearby hills. All of them, he says, are some 12,000 years old. During that time much of Europe was under a mile-thick sheet of ice and most of humanity had yet to invent agriculture. As a group, Osmanagich says, these structures are part of "the greatest pyramidal complex ever built on the face of the earth."
An archaeologist known as 'the Bosnian Indiana Jones' claims a group of hills in his home country are actually the world's oldest man-made pyramids. Once his research in the Visoko Valley in Bosnia and Herzegovina is complete, Semir Osmanagic believes one of the pyramids will be shown to be taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. The theory - which has been dismissed by experts as a 'cruel hoax' - was first proposed by Mr Osmanagic in October 2005.
Despite mainstream archaeologists saying they are just natural rock formations, Mr Osmanagic has made another bold claim that he has found Nikola Tesla’s so-called "torison fields of standing energy" at the Bosnian Pyramids site, which means we could now "communicate with aliens".
Mr Telsa was a Serbian-American inventor, physicist, and futurist, who contributed to the design of the AC electricity supply system in 1888. His ideas became more left-field and experimental towards the end of the 1800s, and he devised the theory of "standing waves" of energy coming from Earth that meant electricity could be transmitted wirelessly over long distances.
Mr Osmanagić has claimed the alleged discovery at one of the "34,000 year old" pyramids he calls the Pyramid of the Sun "changes the history of planet" and could lead to intergalactic communication.
On his work, Dr Osmanagich says: "You have not only the first pyramids in Europe, but also the biggest on the planet. This is shocking to many archaeologists as most people like to keep the status quo when you come up with new and progressive ideas."
But experts are sceptical. They believe the pyramids are nothing more than a cluster of natural hills. Archaeology professor Curtis Runnels from Boston University, for instance, says that he is "not persuaded" by the arguments in favour of the so-called pyramids because cultures capable of producing such "colossal buildings" came about in that region only about 2,500 years ago. Even then, they did not construct buildings of that size and form, he told The Straits Times.
While he concedes that the notion of such colossal structures in the region defies accepted history, Osmanagic is adamant that the pyramids are real. But a pantheon of archaeologists disagrees.
Prominent Bosnian archaeologists entered the scrum early on, denouncing the dig and lobbying to shut it down. Anthony Harding, president of the Czech Republic-based European Association of Archaeologists, has dismissed Osmanagic's ideas as "wacky" and "absurd." Garrett Fagan, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, has slammed the project. He says that the dig will destroy bona fide archaeological sites in the area.
Archaeological discovery of the century? The experts say probably not. Where Osmanagić sees all the elements of a ceremonial megastructure–four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex–professional archeologists see an angular mound and an overactive imagination. Osmanagić’s critics accuse him of promoting pseudo-scientific notions and damaging a legitimate archaeological site–a medieval walled town sits atop the “pyramid”–with his excavations. Throughout all the negativity, Osmanagić remains determined to prove his case. The dig continues.