Posted by: Johan Normark | October 13, 2011

2012: Osmanagich will speak at a Swedish University

Today I received an invitation, from Cornelius Holtorf, to attend an open lecture by Semir Osmanagich at the Linnaeus University in Kalmar. The lecture is titled The Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids in Context. Don’t worry, Osmanagich has not become a respected scholar among Swedish archaeologists. Holtorf and others want to discuss this Bosnian “heritage” with him, and how and why it became so successful in the media and for tourists and the locals in the area. The abstract from Linnaeus University states that “Semir Osmanagich is best known for his controversial work about the Bosnian pyramids at Visiko. In this lecture (with discussion) he will contextualize his work in Bosnia both in relation to other pyramids around the world and in relation to tourism and heritage in Bosnia. Although most scholars dispute the existence of any such pyramids in Bosnia, Osmanagich continues to investigate what he believes are the first pyramids in Europe and the largest pyramids in the world in Visoko. After the lecture we will be critically discussing the way in which the Bosnian pyramids received global media coverage and the relations between the media, archaeological research and cultural heritage in Bosnia and beyond.”

I suspect Osmanagich has another intention with his presence and that is to legitimize his ideas to a wider audience and to show his followers that he is a respected scholar. Some of his ideas include the Maya (and 2012 to some extent). I have a “Google translated” version of his dissertation thesis. The “thesis” is of so poor quality that it does not even reach the standard for a BA-thesis. Anyway, on his website you can read the abstract of his dissertation thesis which is called Non-technological Civilization of MAYAS versus Modern TECHNOLOGICAL CIVILIZATIONS. The abstract itself shows that he should not have been given a doctoral degree:

This doctoral dissertation is a novelty in regards to the official and sanctioned knowledge about the Maya culture:

  • Maya culture represents a Civilization as opposed to the approach of the Maya as an “Indian Tribe” or “Neolithic Culture”
  • The thesis denies the existence of the Maya culture after the 10th century even though wide ranges of the official hypothesis have been established regarding the continuity and decline of the civilizations in Yukatan after the 10th century.
  • The indisputable examples of acoustic engineering, mathematics, astronomy and quartz head skull technology establish the thesis about the Maya as a civilization capable of solving complex technological problems.
  • Dating the Maya and placing them much deeper into the historical time frame, this work intends to change the historical sequence of the emergence of other cultures in Central-America. Assertions that the Zapotecs (or Olmecs, depending on the author) were the cradle of all other cultures (including the Maya, Toltecs and Mistecas) are no longer valid. The archaeological evidence shows that the Maya are the oldest civilization in this region.

This doctoral dissertation presents a challenge: it opens a new path that has never been modeled before as the scientific evidence speaks for itself.

The only thing that speaks for itself is his abstract. It makes Calleman look like a serious researcher. I will give you an example of how the “scientific evidence speaks for itself” in Osmaganich text. On page 17 in “my Google translated” version of his thesis he writes that “”Maya” is a key Hindu philosophical term meaning “making the world” and “world of illusion.” In Sanskrit Maya is linked to concepts of “big”, “limit”, “um” and “mother”. May the name of Buddha’s mother. In the Vedas the name is Maya key astronomers and architects. In Egyptian philosophy Maya term means “universal world order.” In Greek mythology, Maya is the brightest of the seven star constellation Pleiades. MayaB a name for the House of Maya in Central America: Yukatan peninsula.” What we have here is a completely unscientific mixture of Hindu, Buddhist, Egyptian, Greek and Maya words and concepts that ultimately is used to show that the Maya actually were aliens and that they came from the Pleiades…

I think it is unfortunate that Osmanagich has been invited despite the intention. People like him give archaeology a bad name and the original intention will be lost in cyberspace. Osmanagich and his followers will transform it to something else.

Update: Martin Rundkvist at Aardvarchaeology has more to say.



  1. Oy. All that stuff about the different uses of the word “Maya” is straight from Arguelles’ ‘The Mayan Factor’…nearly word for word. Can we say EQUIVOCATION?

  2. Argüelles is indeed found in his list of references but here he specifically refers to a book written by himself. He could have added Prudence Rice’s use of the “may-cycle” to strengthen his argument a little bit.

  3. Hi, I feel you are right, and that Osmanagic will use this lecture as another “scientific validation” of his theories… But anyway I think the discussion with Cornelius Holtorf and the others will be interesting!

  4. I am sure it will be interesting. Cornelius argues that archaeology is a brand and Osmanagich has for sure made his “pyramids” into a brand of some sort. However, is it a brand that is good for Bosnia?

    • Well, of course I think it definitely isn’t, or I wouldn’t have devoted a blog to these “pyramids” 🙂

  5. Someone ought to teach him about the linguitic concept of homophones (if hes even correct at all about the word maya existing in these languages at all)

    • I doubt that he is correct in all these cases. Anyway, other words he could use is May (the month), maize, Maja (Swedish female name), and bajamaja (Swedish portable public toilet:, etc.

  6. Oh, for the love of….. The sounds [m] and [a] are essentially universal in all languages (if a language has one vowel, it will be [a]), and [j] is nearly as common. Furthermore, the syllable structure CV (consonant-vowel) is the single most basic and common one. So what are the chances that some languages would have a two-syllable CVCV word, [maja]? It’s not just likely, it’s statistically inevitable.

  7. This is classical Holtorf. Fucking silly. I’ve linked to your entry.

  8. Exactly. In this case the meanings are completely different but for some reason he attempts to relate them to something that is not specified. The whole dissertation thesis is a mess of completely unrelated things, words, and the like.

  9. Oh what a mess. I’ve written something too and linked to you. Holtorf is responding in the comments section.

    • Your comments ended up as spams.

      Indeed, it is a bit of a mess, or it can soon become a mess. I hope this is not the beginning of more invitations of fringe “archaeologists”. Maybe you’ll soon end up debating Ale Stenar with Bob Lind in Kalmar.

  10. “if hes even correct at all about the word maya existing in these languages at all”

    I some cases he is correct, in other it’s a stretch. Maya is indeed an important concept in religious traditions in India (though I don’t think it connotes all the things he suggests), it is the name of the Buddha’s mother, in Egyptian cosmology “Ma’at” (not Maya) is a very central concept…but he somehow changes the word in exactly the same way that Arguelles did in ‘The Mayan Factor’ (Arguelles says the word is “Mayet”).

    It may be insightful to actually repeat the lines from Arguelles (1987):

    “Maya is a key Hindu philosophical term meaning “origin of the world” and “world of illusion.” The word Maya in Sanskrit is further related to concepts meaning “great,” “measure,” “mind,” “magic,” and “mother.” Not surprisingly, we find the Maya is the name of the mother of the Buddha. And in the Vedic classic, the Mahabharata [not Vedic, btw], we read that Maya was the name of a noted astrologer-astronomer, magician, and architect, as well as the name of a great wandering tribe of navigators.
    …The treasurer of the renowned boy-king in Egypt, Tutankhamen, was named Maya, while in Egyptian philosophy, we find the term Mayet meaning universal world order. In Greek mythology, the seven Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione and sister of the Hyades, number among them one called Maia, also known as the brightest star of the constellation Pleiades. And finally, we know that our month May is derived from the name of the Roman goddess, Maia, “the great one,” the goddess of spring, daughter of Faunus and wife of Vulcan.” (The Mayan Factor 1987, page 17)

    If Osmanagich doesn’t directly cite Arguelles for this particular passage (rather than just including him later as a reference) then I would suggest that this is severe plagiarism…and from a horrible source.

    • Maybe he quotes him in his earlier book, I do not know. Plagiarism and transforming a mountain into a pyramid, the man has many skills.

  11. Reminds me somewhat of Le Plongeon that believed that Jesus was speaking Mayan and that his last words was “black color runs down my eyes”, spoken in Yucatec maya.

    • Too bad Mel Gibson did not add that to Apocalypto (or maybe it is in the movie somewhere, I do not speak Yucatec).

      Le Plongeon at least died over a century ago but he is one of those who initiated the parallel “discourse” regarding the Maya that we’ll see (hopefully) culminating next year.

    • Le Plongeon of course appears in the “thesis” bibliography…

      • Yes, Semir sure knows his pseudostuff.

  12. You have to give it to Holtorf that he is consistent at least in his ideas, which present an unusually canny insight into the relation between contemporary culture and economics and representations of archaeology. Insofar I would go along with him, but rather than to adopt a critical stance, he seems to embrace the notion that discourse has to be done in a sophistic way.

    • Actually I am not angry at all with Cornelius since I see what he is trying to accomplish. What I do fear is, and rightfully so I believe, is that Osmanagich and his followers only will see this as a justification of his unscientific research. Hence, in the long term it is this “justification” that will survive and not Cornelius intended goal. I do care about that.

      I do also have some experience with contemporary culture and representations of archaeology, as my dealings with the 2012 circus, Apocalypto and the Maya movement can testify. Mayanists care little about the 2012ers, 2012ers do not like someone to tell their logical fallacies. The only people that care about the critique are people who are on the “border”. Osmanagich is far away from that borderline so I doubt anything fruitful will come out of it.

      Anyway, if I understand Cornelius correctly from one of his facebook updates this is exactly the reaction and discussion he wanted. We are all part of an experiment. Let’s just hope it does not get out of hand.

  13. To build the mother of all pyramids, and 3 other pyramids, would be a lot of stone blocks. So there must be a very big pit, a stone query there somewhere in Bosnia. But maybe Dr Osmanagich will talk about this in Linnaeus University and tell us where all the stone blocks came from, and where is the pit.

  14. […] a minor tussle going on over at Aardvarchaeology and Archaeological Haecceities over a public lecture at Linnaeus University in Sweden. The lecture by Semir Osmanagich, a fringe […]

  15. Have any of you checked the results from the excavations in Bosnia – that has been going om for the last four years…?

  16. Some of the commentators are more up to date on what he has been up to. I am mainly concerned about the fact that he got a PhD and that what he writes about the Maya is wrong, foolish, twisted, ethnocentric, etc. That says quite a lot about the situation of archaeology in Bosnia. Whatever he is digging up he is for sure destroying “actual archaeological sites while bulldozering for imaginary architecture” as Colleen Morgan writes on her blog:

  17. This Bosnia Maya Pyramid Controversy Certainly Has Old World Psudo-Intelagencia Pantaloons In A Bunch.Do The Bosnians Belive They Originated From Orion?Man And His Symbols Universal?
    Good To See Other Bozos Posting!

  18. Le Plongeon Was Shadowed By Ek Balam During His Digs In the Yucatec,He Did Unearth A Chacmool (Red Jaguar) Of Toltec Origin At The itzae Site Of Chichen.Chacmools May Be A Representation Of Tezcatzonte’cal An Aztec Pulque God Of Drinking And Inebriation.
    Le Barba De Le Plongeon Est Mas Guaepo!

  19. Le Plongeon at least excavated at real sites. The real sites that Osmanagich digs up are destroyed and reinterpreted as something out of this world.

  20. Colleen Morgans blogg surely made an asesment and expressed some categoric opinions about the Bosnian project. Unfortunately she didn’t refer to or discuss any of the objects, items and structures that have been revealed during theese massive excavations.

    Before we can see a clear-cut analyzis of the sructures and objects found at this site it’s difficult to understand how anyone can make any valid judgements of the sturctures that actually have been revealed inside this alleged pyramids. Meawhile we may keep discussing the validity and significance of the term ‘pseudo-skepticism’ – in order not to commit such autrocities ourselves, by accusing real archeological objects as a result of ‘pseudo-science’.

    “What is often referred to as “psuedo science” is actually imagination and imagination is at the foundation of all scienctific fact. Heinrich Schliemann, the archeologists who believed Troy actually existed, had his yet unproven ideas once referred to as a psuedo science. Even Albert Einstein had his theories so referred to. The history of science is rife with many imaginative now accepted truths that were once referred to as psuedo science. The term psuedo science is often applied to ideas not yet proven by highly resisted by those who do not have any original ideas of their own or are threatened by such.”

    Not to forget Thomas Alva Edison who was diagnosed as a “disturbed personality” as he kept failing and failing – in making an empty glas-tube into a ligth-bulb. A clear judgement of the Bosninan project can only be done by assessing the actual findings. The (former) theories of Mr. Osmanovic is irrelevant. Thus the question remains: “What has actually been excavated – and what are the analyzes telling?!

  21. I would not say that Osmanagich is on the exact level of importance as Einstein and Edison…

    As for Schliemann, he was equipped with an old myth that turned out to be true to some extent. I know too little about his work and later work to say that it actually was Homeric Troy that he found. Are there Linear B tablets indicating that it was Troy? He for sure found something that dated to that period.

    Osmanagich is not equipped with an ancient myth, just a vivid imagination. I am sure there are ruins on the mountain. His former theories are indeed relevant since he will interpret them according to these theories. His poor dissertation thesis indicates that he is not capable of doing serious research.

    However, he and his team seems to be skilled in terraforming a mountain into the shape of a pyramid:

  22. Here is an example of Osmanagic using the lecture in Linnaeus University:

  23. Thanks, I did not know he was lecturing at several other places (no other universities though).

  24. I was amused to see the context of how my own work was cited in Osmanagic’s “World of the Maya”:

    He wrote, “Several studies of the life of Augustus Le Plongeon point out that until his death at the age of 82, he did not receive scientific recognition of his work in the Yucatan because his theories were considered odd. (See, for example, John Hoopes, 2000)”

    It’s a crappy citation that refers to some lecture notes that I posted on the web in 1998 (not 2000). Osmanagic doesn’t even provide the URL.

    Here’s the original (yet secondary) source:

    Ironically, Osmanagic embraced Le Plongeon’s wacky interpretations in his work, writing:

    “It is supposed that the Mayan Codexes were written 3500 years ago. With the 8000 years prior to the writing of the Codex, we would have 11,500 years ago – the time of the sinking of Atlantis. Cosmic and natural cataclysms clearly led to this end of civilization as well – that of the great Pacific islands which were the land of Mu.”

    Of course, it was Brasseur’s speculations about the Mayas and Atlantis that led to Le Plongeon’s wild theories about the same. I suspect that Brasseur was getting his ideas from the same milieu that inspired Jules Verne, who mentioned Atlantis in his popular book “Vingt mille lieues sous les mers” (1870). That is, Osmanagic’s fantasies have their roots in science fiction and bad archaeology of the late 19th century.

  25. Also from “The World of the Maya”:

    “The Maya inherited knowledge from their ancestors at Atlantis and Lemuria (Mu). Cities were planned and built around the main square toward which the pyramids and temples were turned. They communicated with the movement of the Sun and the paths of other heavenly bodies.

    “The Maya explained that their cities were arranged ‘based on the pattern of the gods who began with the world.’ (Van Auken and Little, ‘Lost Hall of Record’)

    “Many cultures around the world, from India, Sumeria, Egypt, Peru, the Indians of North and Central America, the Inca and the Maya, call themselves the “Children of the Sun” or the “children of light.” Their ancestors, the civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria, erected the first temples on energy potent point of the Planet. Their most important function was to serve as a gateway to other worlds and dimensions.

    “The pyramids erected on these energy potent locations enabled the Maya to be closer to the heavens and to other levels of consciousness.

    “As we approach December 21, 2012 and the end of the significant 5200-years cycle in the Mayan calendar, as well as the completion of the longer cycle of 26,000 years we should ask ourselves about the changes foreseen by the Maya.

    “Today’s age of transition and chaos spoken of in the wisdom of the Maya will be replaced by ‘the world of the Fifth Sun’.

    “The arrival of our solar system at the starting point toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy, when we will again be enlightened with bundles of energy… is something which was confirmed by modern astronomers about fifteen years ago. This could bring about a positive turnaround for our civilization. Advancement of DNA may raise us to a higher level.

    “The messages we have been given by the Maya do not speak of an apocalyptic end of the world but rather a transformation of the world.

    When the ‘heavens open’ and cosmic energy is allowed to flow throughout our tiny Planet, will we be raised to a higher level by the vibrations… to overcome the age of darkness which has been oppressing us?”

    At least the dolphins (from Atlantis?) approve. (See the image at the end.)

  26. Thanks for the input John.

    I love the dolphin, particularly since this highly intelligent animal contradicts Calleman’s idea that higher consciousness evolved on land after one of his Underworld.

    But back to Semir. I have dealt with him in two earlier posts as well:

    Maybe the codices he refers to are the ones Hunbatz Men has found…

  27. […] have read two contrasting texts this weekend. The first one is related to Semir Osmanagic’s visit to Linnaeus University last year, after an invitation by Prof. Cornelius Holtorf. In an […]

  28. Nu i mars kommer Osmanagic att hålla fördedrag inför new age skaran här i Sverige……

  29. Japp, nu har jag spridit budskapet på fejjan. Själv lär jag nog inte sponsra honom med ett besök. Slöseri med min tid i varje fall.


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