Abstract: The Dangers of Pseudoarchaeology


Examines the phenomenon of pseudoarchaeology (a.k.a. “alternative” archaeology) that proposes fantastical reconstructions of the past, such as spectacular lost supercivilizations of the Ice Age, radical redating of known monuments, alien visitations, and spiritual wonderlands of peace and univeral egalitarianism. In this lecture, I outline what pseudoarchaeology is and then, using the case study of the supposedly vast pyramids of Bosnia, I illustrate how bad things can get for real archaeology when fantasists are given free rein to indulge their obsessions. In this case, Semir Osmanagic, an autodidact metalworker from Texas of Bosnian extraction, has been allowed to “dig” on natural hills he is convinced are man-made pyramids, and in so doing has actively harmed the real archaeological inheritance of Bosnia. The case also illustrates how, ultimately, pseudoarchaeology is not about discovering anything meaningful about the past but is rather a political crusade against rationalism, science, and the academic status quo.

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