Solving the riddle of KTK tunnel artefact presumptively defined as a “wheel”

Picture: Artefact found in KTK tunnel system

by Nenad Djurdjevic alias Hyperborean

Bergamo, 12.07.2008 1

Sirmione (BS), Italy

Picture: View from Catullo’s Grottos onto Lake Garda

One of the great advantages to live in Italy lies in the fact that this country surpasses any other country in Europe, and probably any other in the whole world, in the number of cultural, historical and archaeological monuments. On hot summer days like these, there’s the “l’imbarazzo della scelta”, the “embarrassment of choice”, how the Italians like to define the infinite possibility to choose among the places to visit. And, while walking through Italy’s famous “piazzas”, or any of the enchanting Italian villa gardens, or archaeological sites, you can cool yourself down while eating world’s much-relished ice cream. Catullo’s Grottos is the largest and the most complete Roman villa in northern Italy, situated at the outmost point of the Sirmione peninsula on Lake Garda. This famous site consists of the remains of a Roman villa, which the tradition says belonged to the Roman poet Caius Valerius Catullus (84-54 B.C.), a native of Verona, who came here after his trip to Bitinia and wrote splendid poems about the beauty of the place and its soothing influence on his troubled spirit. Now, some of you might wonder what the archaeological site of Catullo’s Grottos has to do with the alleged “wheel” artefact discovered in KTK tunnel system? Well, it has a lot, as you will discover in the next pages, because it is the striking demonstration of how a two day visit to an archaeological site, inspired by one’s personal intuition, may turn out into a truly successful occasion to unfold the mystery behind one of the artefacts found so far inside the Bosnian valley of pyramids. But, first of all, please let me introduce you to some important notes regarding ancient columns (pillars).


Ancient Columns (Pillars)

Picture: Facade of the palace in Medinet-Habu Temple, Thebes, Luxor, Egypt

When we think of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the images that flash into our minds often involve monolithic buildings like the Temple of Karnak, Parthenon and the Coliseum and, especially, the columns which supported them. These columns continue to influence architectural design until today. Whether Egyptian, Greek or Roman, columns usually consist of three fundamental parts: the base, which can be round or square; the shaft (on which this article is focused), which usually is fluted (grooved) or smooth; and the capital, which can be quite ornate. The basic types of columns are: - Egyptian polygonal columns - Egyptian columns representing plants such as papyrus etc. - Greek Doric columns - Greek Ionic columns - Greek Corinthian columns - Roman Doric columns - Roman Tuscan columns Columns were originally of wood and some say that initially, in Crete, where the Minoan civilization flourished, uprooted trees were merely trimmed and then placed upside down. In the very earliest of Egyptian history, columns were often made from one large monolithic block (sandstone, limestone, marble etc.). Many of the Egyptian columns are imitations of plants such as the papyrus, palm and


lotus. It is possible that these imitations are a reflection of earlier times when structures were supported by bundles of plant material and palm logs, perhaps bound together with ropes, animal hide and mud. In all later periods columns were usually built up in sectional blocks that were then first shaped and then smoothed from the top down. They were then normally painted, and afterwards, it was difficult to tell that they were not cut from a single piece of stone. However, in this article I will concentrate on Roman Ionic and Tuscan (Doric) columns, and the most common peculiarities of Roman fly ash column bricks and KTK sandstone bricks.

Picture: typical columns made of rounded sandstone bricks that can be seen at Karnak, Thebes, Modern Luxor.


Roman Fly Ash & Stone Brick Columns
Examples from various archaeological sites

Picture - Photographer: Tzu Yen – China

These columns show a common method used by the Romans. A brick pillar is rendered and the rendering partly shaped to look like a fluted marble column. In the left corner bottom can be seen what remains of a round brick column built by alternating fly ash and stone bricks. The original height of this column was most probably the same of others shown in the picture.


The inside of a column in Pompei

Picture – Photographer: David Singleton from London, UK

Inner section of Roman fly ash brick column showing traces of cement filling. Cement was commonly used to fix together the pillar bricks which have been piled one on top of another. The same construction procedure, among others to build Tuscan columns, was used in Catullo’s Grotto. A detail that was confirmed to me during a discussion held with an expert archaeologist from Sirmione.


Rounded Fly Ash and Stone Bricks from Catullo’s Grottos


Picture: Example of rounded stone bricks of the same site obtained from a nearby quarry


Illustration of Construction Method

Picture: The brick core of Ionic and Tuscan columns were often coated with stucco

Many columns in ancient Rome were built according to the illustration shown above. The shaft core was usually filled with fly ash or stone bricks and cement, while the bases and capitols were made of stucco. Neoclassic architecture remained faithful to this construction method. In 1887, for the construction of eight massive Corinthian columns at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., were used for the core of each over 70,000 bricks. Link:


The Last Column Brick Piles at Catullo’s Grottos



Picture: Characteristic quadrant brick used for the building of Ionic or Tuscan columns

None of the brick columns in Catullo's Grottos survived the influence of time. All of them have been consumed by weathering and dismantled during the past centuries, and the few remains were re-utilized as construction material for housing in nearby villages. There’s no trace of the beautiful stucco capitols, and the bases, that once stood here for the Glory of Rome. Everything was dispersed slowly by the wind long time ago, before vanishing forever from history.


Comparison with KTK Tunnel Artefact(s)

Why the sandstone artefact pieces discovered in KTK tunnel system are NOT broken pieces of a stone wheel, millstone or similar? The answer is very simple: Because stone wheels or millstones do not break into round quadrant pieces with perfect and flat sides having an angle of 90 degrees as it can be seen in the picture above. The KTK tunnel sandstone bricks, if compared to those of Catullo’s Grottos, are almost identical in shape and size, while the difference in weight is imperceptible. They have the same visual aspect and traits typical for column bricks, with the unique difference to be made of different materials, one from sandstone, the other by mixing fly ash and water. Since thousands of years, sandstone bricks were commonly used in the construction of monumental buildings, but I could not remember to have seen, during my first visits in Visoko (2006-2007), any historical monument to which these sandstone bricks could be related. The size and weight of the KTK sandstone bricks are identical to those used in the construction of ancient columns having a height of approx. four-five meters (13.1233’-16.4041’). However, the approx. height of the original column, of which these sandstone bricks were most probably part, could be calculated by determining first of all the brick circle diameter (ø at the base). For Tuscan (Doric) columns the height to thickness ratio is about 6-7:1 , while for Ionic columns 9:1 (Vitruvius). Of course, in order to obtain more precise details more research is necessary.



Undoubtedly, Catullo's Gift is a lesson, a striking example of how an apparently “unsignificant artefact”, ridiculed by some, and which remained for a certain time a brain teaser for others, magically reacquires its true archaeological value. The fact to have discovered potential sandstone bricks commonly used in the construction of colossal columns, which are the evidence for a massive monumental civilization, will surely represent a stimulating challenge for archaeologists and scholars who will do research inside the ‘Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids’. From now on, the discovery of the KTK tunnel artefact will raise many new questions, among others: How came these sandstone column bricks inside the KTK tunnel system, who brought them there, from where, and why? Is the KTK tunnel system their place of origin? And if so, does it mean that we should expect more similar findings inside the tunnels in the future? However, the discovery of column sandstone bricks inside the Visoko valley should raise considerably the curiosity of academics. Where most people see “…nothing”, or “…just a coincidence” and “…chaos” (misinterpreting the real meaning of the word), I, myself, since always saw the notes of a divine melody. Gratias Ago Tibi Catullus. Thank you Catullo.

"A rational mind, or a ‘title’, cannot oppose Divine Inspiration."

References: Le “grotte di Catullo” a Sirmione – Guida alla visita della villa romana e del museo Vitruvius – De Architectura – Roman Architecure



Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful