Archaeologists working in Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina, about 20 miles northwest of Sarajevo, discovered what might prove to be a European pyramid four times taller than the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
Bosnian archaeologist Semir Osmanagic, in an interview with the Associated Press, cautioned against jumping to conclusions, but preliminary investigations suggest some ancient culture, perhaps the Bronze Age Illyrian people, carved a natural hill into a pyramidal shape. The hill is 2,120 feet high and, according to Osmanagic, has "all the elements" of an artificial structure: "four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex."
Once the hill was shaped, it appears to have been faced with concretelike blocks made from an "unnatural mixture of gravel."
Local residents long have referred to the hill as a pyramid, but no archaeologist seriously seems to have considered the possibility that the hill was in any way artificial until recently.
This might seem incredible, but the largest American Indian mounds in eastern North America were not always recognized as artificial constructions. Monk’s Mound in Illinois, the largest earthen structure in ancient America north of Mexico, once was dismissed as a natural hill, in spite of its pyramidal shape. Mississippian peoples built this 100-foot-tall temple mound about 1,000 years ago.
More recently, archaeologists in Indiana failed to recognize the Mount Vernon Mound as a mound until construction crews began to dig into it to obtain fill dirt.
The Mount Vernon Mound had been a loafshaped structure similar to Ohio’s Seip Mound, in Ross County. The Mount Vernon Mound was about 400 feet long, 170 feet wide and 20 feet high. Seip Mound is 240 feet long, 130 feet wide and 30 feet high. A people known to archaeologists as the Hopewell culture built both mounds about 2,000 years ago.
Although these Native American mounds are dwarfed by the Bosnian "pyramid," the Illyrians evidently only modified an existing hill, while the ancient Americans built their mounds from the ground up without metal tools. Each of these sites shows us that ancient peoples built monumental architecture that can surprise us today. For more information on the Bosnian site, including images of the striking pyramid, see www.bosnianpyramid.com. For additional information about Seip Mound, see www.ohiohistory.org/places/seip/. Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society. firstname.lastname@example.org
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