Scholarship is a remarkable human achievement; so many people from countless backgrounds sparring over ideas with comparatively little bloodshed should be applauded. In the political and religious worlds where armaments are often thrown into the mix, well, the results are colorful but often less kind. I was reminded of this when one of my students recently showed me a copy of a letter regarding a somewhat outlandish claim by Sam Osmanagic (see Momma Maya: Is It the Apocalypse Already? for more on him). Osmanagic, who is studying for a doctorate, has recently added another hapless cause to his dossier of unlikely mysteries of the human past. Investigating Visocica, a hill in Bosnia, Osmanagic has concluded that it is really a pyramid.
The letter to which I referred, written by the irrepressible head of the Antiquities Council of Egypt, Dr. Zahi Hawass, is very gentle. Hawass, a kind of self-styled Egyptian Indiana Jones, notes in a letter to Archaeology magazine, “What was found there is really just a mass of huge stones, evidently a natural geologic formation.” He does, however, also note “His [Osmanagic’s] previous claim that the Maya are from the Pleiades and Atlantis should be enough for any educated reader.” Interestingly enough, Osmanagic is a self-styled Bosnian Indiana Jones, and he has written a book arguing for the pyramid option. Meanwhile, most serious scholars are more circumspect about the claims of any Indiana Joneses. After all, to quote Raiders of the Lost Ark, “archaeology is not an exact science.”
I am sometimes challenged by those who discover that I read such things as Drosnin (see Edoc Elbib Eht) or Osmanagic, but despite my objections to their conclusions that I inevitably reach, I want to hear them. Scholarship suffers from silencing the maverick voices. I have never ascribed to the principle that a person has to have a Ph.D. to be credible; often the reverse is true. I have met many Ph.D.s barely worth listening to while some of the most profound thoughts I’ve encountered came while I was working as a janitor’s assistant, listening to my boss. He was a man who engaged in physical labor that afforded him time to think. No, I do not buy Drosnin or Osmanagic’s conclusions, but I applaud them. Scholarship would be dull if not for those willing to take chances out there on the edge of credibility. (And wearing cool hats while doing it.)