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A Study by Nenad M. Djurdjević
ABSTRACT: So far orthodox scholarship of the stećak monolithic stones has attempted to situate the architectural, artistic and religious phenomenon of these monuments in only three different contexts: Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism (Bosnian Church), the heretic Bogomil doctrine, and remnants of pagan beliefs of unknown origin. According to academic scholarship, the historical origin of stećaks has been proposed exclusively as mediaeval. The intent of this paper is to demonstrate that the architectural, artistic and religious expressions of the stećaks are deeply rooted in a millennia-old tradition belonging to the Old European culture. This will lead us to the identification of the “True Spirit” of these sacred stone monuments, allowing us to rejoin them with their ancestral origin.
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Stećaks, or stećci, is merely a convenient term to denote monolithic stones found in present days throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and in parts of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. The name stećak comes from the present participle of the verb stajati, to stand - stojeći, and is most commonly used in reference works deriving from the assumption that they were exclusively designed during the mediaeval period to stand over graves as religious monuments (tombstones). However, in the absence of a sufficient number of reliable written sources, as well as contradictory archaeological and scientific evidence, the origin and purpose of stećaks remains subjected to questioning.
Stećaks fall into two main groups, recumbent and upright or standing stone monoliths. They can be found in the form of an ordinary flat or roughly shaped slab 10, chest/coffin13, gabled sarcophaguslike monolith in the shape of an elongated pentagon16, pillar (obelisk4,5 or nišan), stele1 (Wenzel M. – Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - Table XLV). Stećaks are mostly made of limestone, sandstone, granite and, in particular circumstances, of different types on conglomerate.
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Over sixty thousand of the seventy thousand recorded stećaks are found at more than three thousand known sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the remaining number is proportionally divided between Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. These numbers are an estimate, because different sources suggest that during the past decades and centuries a significant number of stećaks was destroyed. However, new locations with stećaks are discovered yearly, and the aforementioned numbers will likely rise in the future.
▲ Stećaks are mostly found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Although the most proposed theory ascribes the authorship of stećaks to the Bogomil social-religious movement, these monuments are not found where this doctrine originated and was mainly preached, namely, Bulgaria and Macedonia.
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One of the reasons for the disappearance of a large number of stećaks can be attributed to the low quality of the raw materials used for their construction. Another reason, much worse than any other, is the widespread inability to comprehend the cultural and spiritual background of these monuments. It is presumed that during the past centuries and the last decades over twenty percent of stećaks were used as stone blocks in civil constructions such as roads, bridges, residential or religious buildings and other structures. Even today many of these ancient monuments are threatened by men and ruined by time and, although recently stećaks have been added to UNESCO list of rare cultural heritage which requires urgent protection, the funds for their preservation are scarce and limited. So far orthodox scholarship of the stećak monolithic stones has attempted to situate the architectural, artistic and religious phenomenon of these monuments in only three different contexts: Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism (Bosnian Church), the heretic Bogomil doctrine, and remnants of pagan beliefs of unknown origin. According to academic scholarship, the historical origin of stećaks has been proposed exclusively as mediaeval. The iconography of stećaks has been described as Christian, Romanic, Gothic, Bosnian, and sometimes primitive. In absence of other historical sources some scholars ascribed the authorship of stećaks to the Bogomil faith. The most important step in the overall dispute related to the primary source of stećaks, as well as the particular context where the architectural layout of these monuments may have been generated, is still missing. The stećak phenomenon has been proposed to the public as an exclusive prerogative of the mediaeval period and of different Churches, excluding the possibility that the tradition and ancestral origin of these sacred monuments may well be far older, and radically different from the established paradigm. Of the seventy thousand recorded stećaks only five thousand bear carved decorations in the form of bas-reliefs or incised lines. Of these five thousand, only four hundred thirty-eight to date have been recorded to feature upon them crosses forms as the major element (Wenzel M. – Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - p. 91). However, the vast majority of motifs and ornaments present on stećaks are referable to Old European religious beliefs, and a solar symbolism closely connected to cosmological concepts deriving from pagan sources like the Vedas. In this regard, it is curiously interesting to examine how the architectural, artistic and religious expressions of stećaks were already present in prehistoric societies of Old Europe. This paper will present a number of milleniaold artifacts belonging generally to the Neolithic-Chalcolithic period of Old Europe that will establish a direct link to these sacred monuments. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 IV
Sanctuaries and Votive Stećaks of Old Europe (7.000-3.500 B.C.E.)
One of the most exciting discoveries made in the prehistoric society contexts of Old Europe are hundreds of miniature clay models of houses, sanctuaries, shrines, temples and tablets produced throughout the Neolithic-Chalcolithic period. These artifacts are particularly important, because they present details of architecture, decoration and furnishing that are otherwise unavailable to the prehistoric archaeologist and scholar. Archaeological evidence suggests that these objects were used in sacrifical ceremonies as votive objects to celebrate the erection of a structure. Several examples of clay models were discovered in such a context beloning to the Starčevo culture, distributed in south-west Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. In terms of absolute chronology, the Starčevo culture can be dated from 6.200 B.C.E. to about 5.500 B.C.E. (Schubert 1999).
► Votive temple, terracotta, discovered at the site of Mala Trnska Tumba, (Pelagonia), Middle Neolithic, Porodin Culture, 6th millennium B.C.E. Bitola Velušina-
In Neolithic mound of Porodin near Bitola, Macedonia, several miniature models of sanctuaries of a unique type were excavated: each has a cylindrical 'chimney' upon it which is modelled with the masked features of a beaked and large-eyed goddess with a necklace encricling her neck and spreading over the roof. The models have elaborate doors, either as an inverted T shape or with angular cut-outs, and probably represent temples dedicated to a particular goddess. Similar models of houses and sanctuaries found at the Early Vinča site of Turdaş in Transylvania, as well at Vādastra, Romania, must signify the same concept. Interestingly, the body of these votive objects reflects the typical form of sarcophaguslike stećaks in the shape of elongated pentagons. Another “curiosity” consists in the fact that the terms used in the archaeological literature to refer to these artefacts is often interchanged “house”, “sanctuary”, “shrine”, “temple”, exactly as in the case of subconsciously absorbed terminology to denote Bosnian stećaks: bilig, kâm (stone), mramorje (marbles), zlamen, kuća (house), grčki grobovi (Greek tombs), vječna kuća - vječni dom (eternal house/abode) etc. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 V
The term “eternal abode”, however, seems to express more than any other the millennia old concept of religious beliefs closely related with funerary practices of Old European culture. Archaeological evidence has shown that during the Early Neolithic, particularly in the Balkans, women, children, and youths were buried under house floors and between buildings. Habitation areas functioned as realms of the ancestors, as well as of the living, in which the sacred bond between women and their children was preserved even after death. Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas theorizes that women and children were associated with hearth and home, and so they would be buried beneath it as an act of connecting their bodies to the home, their “eternal abode”.
▲ Stećak in the shape of a house, Bosnia.
▲ Model of a house, Gumelniţa culture, Romania, 5th millennium B.C.E. (Ziduldacic 2012)
Stećaks in the shape of a house can be found almost everywhere in Bosnia, and neighbouring countries. Sometimes they are decorated with motifs and inscriptions, but more often they are found undecorated. House-shaped stećaks are found in the form of a single great stone (monolith), as well reposed upon a stereobate (or crepidine). The use of large basements made of stone is a common feature found in many stećak monoliths. Further evidence will clearly demonstrate that such architectural practice is not the prerogative of the mediaeval period, but is deeply rooted within millennia-old Old European culture and tradition. One of the most important archaeological discoveries that has caused the interpretative confines of the prehistorian's understanding of Neolithic-Chalcolithic structures and cult practices to be readjusted was that of a sanctuary model at Cāscioarele, Romania, belonging to the Gumelniţa culture. The red-baked, polished clay model seen on page VII is 24.2 cm high and 51 cm long (9.5 X 20.1 in) and was found lying close to the remains of a large sanctuary 10 X 7 metres (32.8083' X 22.9658'). BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 VI
▲ Clay model of a sanctuary, Cāscioarele, Gumelniţa culture, 5th millennium B.C.E.
The large clay sanctuary consists of a large substructure, like the stereobate of a classical Greek temple, which supports four individual temples, each of which has a wide-arched portal and is crowned with horns on the gable and above the four corners. The entrance to each temple has a narrow border in relief, suggesting a door frame, from which two ribs project obliquely upwards between the lintel and the roof, perhaps indicating the wooden supports of an arcade leading to the temple. There is no further architectural detail within the temples. The model temples presumably illustrate real structures at least three metres in height. Together with the substructure corresponding to that of the model, we obtain a temple complex ten or more metres high. The horizontal lines visible on the substructure might depict flights of stairs or a terrace like structure made of wooden beams. For the moment, the presence of holes, which could represent windows or entrances, remains unexplained to archaeologists. Similar models of temples supported on terraced substructures are known from Sumerian architecture. For example, the temple of Susa, depicted on a cylinder seal impression dating back to 3.300 B.C.E., appears as a structure composed of a large substructure with entrances and apertures. On top there's a rectangular temple with three bull horns on each side. Carbon dating shows that the sanctuary in Cāscioarele ante-dates Sumerian temples by one millennium. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 VII
The model of a sanctuary found in Cāscioarele is not unique. Within the area of distribution of the East Balkan civilization many fragments of similar models, usually smaller, have been known for long time. Miniature clay models of sanctuaries found in Moldavia and Ukraine belonging to Cucuteni-Tripolye culture are known since the beginning of the twentieth century.
◄ Clay model of a sanctuary, Cucuteni-Tripolye culture, 5th millennium B.C.E. (Ursulescu N. 2006, p. 132)
The small clay model, usually interpreted as a building resting on piles, is by analogy very similar to other sanctuary models presented in this paper. It may be assumed that the presence of these supports is meant to stress the importance of the sanctuary's elevation above the ground. In the site of Ruse, Bulgaria, a 'two-storey house' very similar to that of Cāscioarele was discovered, together with several miniature clay models of temples with wide-arched portals standing on terraced stereobates. Architectural remains of these clay models were also found in Izvoarele, Romania, as well in the site of Krannon-Duraki, Thessaly, Greece.
▲ Stećak on a stereobate, Bosnia.
▲ Clay model of a temple on a stereobate, Izvoaerele, Romania, East Balkan civilization, Copper Age approx. 4.500 B.C.E.
The close relationship in the architectural layout between Old European votive temples and the most common recumbent form of stećaks becomes evident at first sight. This, however, is just one example in a series of many, that will further consolidate this already self-evident relationship. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 VIII
▲ Stećaks on a stereobate with frontal and lateral cut-outs, Bistrica, Bosnia & Herzegovina, show similar structure of Old European votive temple models. ▼ Clay model of a house (left), and a temple on a stereobate (right). Gumelniţa culture, Romania 5th millennium B.C.E. (cIMeC 1996-2012)
Old European miniature models of houses, sanctuaries and temples constitute an important evidence in the understanding of how sacred structures as well as monolithic masonry evolved over the centuries and millennia. They set a basic model needed in the reconstruction of the architectural, artistic and religious design of stećaks, but also of the history of architecture in general. Unfortunately, these unique and oldest worldwide architectural remains are too often ignored by historians and archaeologist, and are seldom mentioned in history books. However, one of the aims of this paper is to shake-off such limited mindset and, possibly, to serve as a useful source of information for scholars and researchers. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 IX
As in any other example of architectural development through time, the evolution of sacred structures and their miniature reproductions goes through several stages. Here below are presented few examples, from most basic and abstract form, to more sophisticated and rationalized ones.
▲ example of a sanctuary model made of clay in its most basic form, Gumelniţa culture, Romania, 5th millennium B.C.E. (cIMeC 1996-2012) ▼ (left) one of the basic form of stećaks, with frontal cut-out, shows an identical form of Old European sanctuary model in its most basic form; Livno, Miši village, Rešetarica locality, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are many examples of stećaks with such basic geometrical shape in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries. They can be found as a single stone or placed upon a stereobate. Unlike other, more sophisticated types of stećaks, these are rarely decorated. However, Old European miniature models of houses, sanctuaries, temples or shrines are not the only ancestral source of stećaks. Eneolithic clay tablets and altars which will be examined later will add additional reference to the scheme used to represent the geometry of stećaks. Oval-shaped votive tablets and altars often appear in the archaeological record together with others of quadrangular or pentagonal form. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 X
▲ Clay model of a sanctuary in the shape of elongated pentagon with decorated borders, Gumelniţa culture, Romania 5th millennium B.C.E. (cIMeC 1996-2012) ▼ Example of a stećak, Bosnia and Herzegovina, shows a very similar structure as the example of Old European votive sanctuary above. Rope-like decoration on the borders is a common feature in both stećaks and Old European sanctuary models.
Varying border designs appear either as a finishing to an othrwise undecorated stećak, or as an outline embellishment to some particular grouping of motifs or to a figural scene. Sometimes borders are used as a space division. Stećaks decorated with rope-like borders are very frequent in Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XI
▲ Clay model of a sanctuary in the shape of a pentagon with holes and a gable/knob, Gumelniţa culture, Romania 5th millennium B.C. E. (cIMeC 1996-2012) ▼ Example of a stećak in the shape of a pentagon decorated with a knob (serbo-croatian jabuka, apple).
Knobs are another common artistic feature found on stećaks. They represent the normal consequence in the transitional development of architectural elements such as the extremities of wooden beams into figurative art forms [gable cross (proto-swastika) - knob - bull's horns crescent - sun - rosette - flower of life]. Knobs are usually placed along the gable and may appear either singly, or in pairs or in threes. Sometimes, knobs are used to decorate central parts of the vertical sides as an elaboration of the central field. They can be also found on the top of pointed stelae. In some cases, knobs are attributed to an Ottoman legacy, because similar protrusions are found on tombs of Muslim leaders. Alternatively, they are considered as the prerogative of different Churches during the Middle Ages, because often present on stone crosses of that period. In the Serbian or Croatian language the knob is called “jabuka”, meaning apple. Even today there's the custom to place apples on the tops and arms of crosses, and in particular over the graves of young girls and boys. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that the knob as well many other symbols found on stećaks throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, do not derive from mediaeval art or traditions, but have their origin in a seven thousand year old civilization of Old Europe. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XII
The Evolution of the Architectural Elements
a 2012) d
Figures a-b-c-d-e: Neolithic architectural remains, Gumelniţa culture, Calarasi, 3.500 B.C.E. (Ziduldacic
Above: the given examples show the phenomena of prehistoric architectural evolution of the gable cross into the knob (a+b+c), as well as the transformation of a roof without gable cross and knob into the basic pentagonal form of sancturies (d+e). The result is a reflection of the basic form of recumbent stećaks in the shape of elongated pentagons. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XIII
▲ Clay model of a sanctuary decorated with proto-swastika symbolism, Cāscioarele, Gumelniţa culture, 5th millennium B.C.E. (D. Dilov 2012) ▼ Mirror imagery closely related to proto-swastika symbolism such as double-spirals, different types of crosses etc. are frequent motifs on stećak stones (Bešlagić Š. - Stećci, Kultura i Umjetnost - p. 161,162).
Spirals are employed as a major element of decoration on the stećaks. The spiral, however, is another sacred symbol found in Bosnia from prehistory onwards. Bosnian spirals resemble very much those found on Greek grave stelae, and those found on ancient Greek gold jewellery known as grecos. Spirals and double-spirals are another figurative interpretation of swastikas, while the pentagonal geometry of Old European sanctuaries and stećaks can be associated with Aphrodite (Venus). Another symbol for Venus is the Bull, which is one of many fertility symbols playing a major role in cultic worship. In Old Europe, the bull's horns consistenly appear associated with sanctuaries and tombs, and confirm their connection to death and regeneration (Gimbutas M. – The Living Goddess - p. 35). BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XIV
The evolution and survival of the spiral symbol can be observed in the given examples.
▲ Clay model of a snake, KGK VI, 4.100 B.C.E
▲ The Egyptian Mehen, 275 B.C.E ◄ Bosnian pita: snake or spiral? 2012
In Old Europe the earliest primeval element of the universe was conceived as water, and the mythical water snake was considered a vehicle of an energy that had its source in water. The presence of the Snake Goddess is felt everywhere – on earth and in the sky. In the Old Kingdom of Egypt and in predynastic literature, Mehen, along with Seth in his original form, fights Apep daily as the sun travels across the sky. Mehen wraps his coils around Apep, while Seth strikes at Apep with a spear. At the dawn of the Egyptian culture, Mehen even lent his name and his shape to a gameboard, in the form of a coiled serpent. In Bosnia and other regions of the Balkan peninsula that once were part of the Old European continent the coiled serpent survived by camouflaging itself in culinary tradition. Interestingly, the word pita seems to come from the Sanskrit word pitā – father. In the Vedas the coiled serpent is associated with the Kundalini force, sleeping like a coiled serpent, the primordial cosmic energy.
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As previously mentioned, in Old Europe the bull's head and horns as well as rams were strongly associated with sanctuaries, temples and shrines. The same symbolism can be found in Anatolia, Minoan islands, and the near East. The bull and the ram where also initmately associated in ancient Egypt with the worship of sun deities. Old European cultures situated this image particularly above sanctuary entrances, as well within megalithic tombs in the form of horns or hooks sculpted in relief.
▲ Reconstruciton of a sanctuary with a gable roof in its simplest form at Vinča site Kormadin, Serbia, 5th millennium B.C.E. The entrance, as well central part of the sanctuary is dominated by the image of the bull (bucranium). (Ursulescu N. – 2006, p. 86)
The rosette is another symbol identified with bull's horns, because of its analogy with the flowerlike ends of the fallopian tubes, and therefore appears consinstently associated with tombs and the goddess' womb, with death and regeneration. In the symbolic language of Old Europe the horns are represented in the abstract with a crescent moon as well, as a U-sign indicating the bucranium. Artifacts associated with the cult of the bull were found at the Neolithic sites of Vučedol (Croatia), Vinča (Serbia), and Butmir (Bosnia) etc. It should therefore come as no surprise that the same religious imagery is often encountered on the stećak monolithic monuments.
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► Drawing from basrelief of a shrine in Çatal Hüyük, Anatolia, 7th millennium B.C.E. Actual skull plates with attached horns are embedded into a pointed arch. (Mellart J., 1967) ◄ Example of a stećak with a pointed top in Brotnice, Konavle region, Croatia. The frontal side of the monolithic monument is decorated with a deity bearing large rams' horns, rosette, and a crescent.
The crescent, rosette, and various forms of horn symbolism appear very frequently in almost all geographic areas involved in the stećak phenomenon. In some cases, the crescent has been generally associated with Islam. However, this possibility can be taken into consideration only on Islamic-type stelae found on the Bosnian territory. But also in that case, it should be taken into consideration that the symbol of the star and crescent are a common feature of Sumerian iconography.
► Altar (Tophet) representing symbols of the Carthaginian and Phoenician moon goddess Tanit, the consort of the sun god Ba'al.
The given evidence clearly demonstrates that there's a millenniaold inseparable relationship between Old European sanctuaries, stećaks and other similar monuments based on common architectural, artistic and religious concepts. In this context, additional evidence will be presented in order to provide a deeper, better, and richer understanding of the significance and importance of Old European culture and the stećak phenomenon.
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Whenever a research on various prehistoric sites has been carried out, findings of alleged non‐ utility comprise a considerably large share of the overall objects discovered. Such objects are mostly made of ceramics and end up in museums in unlclassified piles. Not rarely some of them are exhibited to the public without proper scientific classification (i.e. votive pyramids). Among the findings generally different in terms of form, purpose and significance, one small group of objects is comparatively unexplored and extremely important for our study on the origin of stećaks. The group of objects comprises an important number of ceramic tablets of polygonal and pentagonal shape interpreted often as "altars", due to their resemblance of the pediment building facade. Up to now there is no typology published regarding such objects except for several preliminary studies. However, these artifacts might shed some light on the better understanding of unique characteristics present in stećaks.
a b c
▲ Two examples of Eneolithic polygonal votive objects classified by archaeologists as "clay tablet" (a) and "object with signs" (b,c). Gradeshnitsa-Slatino-Dikilitash, 4.800 B.C.E. (Mirea P. 2012) ▼ Eneolithic ceramic altars, Ocharovo tell, Bulgaria. Decorations include single/double spirals, chevrons, caterpillars and antropomorphic figures. (Chernakov D. 2006, p. 75)
It is well known that the creation of miniature models of different individual structures such as houses, sanctuaries, temples and even pyramids was a common practice in prehistoric societies of Old Europe. It could therefore be assumed that the production of such models also included the most widespread of recumbent stećaks often decorated with chevron patterns, double-spirals, caterpillars (Croatian kolovrat, Serbian коловрат). This possibility should not be excluded a priori, since votive offerings in the shape of coffins were also found in other ancient cultures (i.e. Egypt). BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XVIII
◄ Two ancient Egyptian miniature bronze votives, Late Period 713–332 B.C.E. (Cairo Museum)
These two small ancient bronze coffins once contained the mummified remains of a sacred snake and lizard and were intended as votive offerings. The cobra headed goddess Wadjet was traditionally associated with lower Egypt and had many temples dedicated to her. Lizards in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were the sign that meant 'many' and thus came to symbolise wealth and prosperity. It should be remembered that the serpent is found depicted in several artistic styles also on stećaks. Chevrons, spirals and caterpillars are found in the same context.
▼ fallen stećak; decorated laterally with double-chevron motif.
▲ Example of stećak decorated frontally with single and double spirals, incised lines on the border, exactly as examples of Eneolithic tablets and altars previously shown. ▼ Parallelebipedal stećaks, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The aforementioned examples of clay tablets and altars from the sites of Gradeschnitsa and Ocharovo are not the only ones. In Bulgaria many other clay tablets were recovered from the Eneolithic layers of archaeological sites like Ruse tell, Kodjadermen tell, and Sultan tell. The formal typology of all objects include mainly tablets of pentagonal, quadrangular and oval forms. Many of these objects have ornamental motifs such as vertical and horizontal fields, dots, spirals, meanders, concentric circles as a central motif etc. These votive objects and the fact that they have been discovered in the same area and context as other cultic artifacts (i.e. Ovcharovo cult scene) are evidence that these objects are in relation with ancient religious ceremonies. From a range of sources it can be suggested that the ornamental compositions on the ceramic tablets are in fact symbols related to the concept of fertility and most probably used in ancient rituals dedicated to the Mother Goddess. Interestingly, all these votive tablets and altars seem to represent a twodimensional mirror basic image of the much more sophisticated forms of the stećaks. Since an overall presentation of all artifacts would require and deserve much more space, only few examples will be presented here.
▲ Eneolithic ceramic tablet from Kodjadermen tell, Bulgaria, shows a basic form of recumbent stećaks. ▼ Eneolithic ceramic tablets from Ruse tell, Bulgaria (Chernakov D. 2012, p. 72, 74). These tablets resemble very much examples of stećaks with rich, elaborate top decoration found almost everywhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina (page XXI).
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▲ Example of stećak with rich, elaborate top decoration, Olovo region, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this particular example the rosette represents an elaborate evolution of the most simple form of proto-swastika and spiral symbolism.
The evidence presented so far based on observations of architectural, artistic and religious elements has clearly shown that prehistoric votive objects in the form of miniature models of structures, tablets and altars of parallelepipedal and pentagonal form found in Old European culture resemble very much the most common recumbent forms of stećaks: - that of rectangular or parallelepidal slabs, chests or coffins, and gabled monoliths in the shape of elongated pentagons. Throughout many ancient cultures the pentagon is considered a symbol of divine order, and has been associated with a single or double spiral and with infinity. Votive objects of Old European culture and monolithic stećak stones found in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the neighbouring countries are often decorated with layered chevron and spiraling key patterns, which are protoswastika symbols, used to mark sacred sites and objects of high religious and cultural significance. In the same context, I will provide even more evidence that strongly supports the notion that the ancestral origin of stećaks lies in the borderless world of Old Europe.
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Old Europe: The First Horizon
▲ Ceramic altar, Kodjadermen, Gumelniţa, Karanovo VI, Bulgaria 4.200 B.C.E. (Chernakov D. 2012)
Before the Mesopotamian empire, before the pharaohs of Egypt, the civilization of Old Europe imbued with divinity the sun, moon, sky, sea, horizon, and other aspects of the natural world. The idea of a sun-god, the horizon as a boundary at the end of the world, and haunting personification of death, are likely culled directly from the Old European ancestral spirit. The horizon of a civilization, whose visions of mysticism were embedded in stone, represents the far-off mystery of the natural world, with which it longs to connect. In the vision of ancient people this symbol represents the horizon from which the sun emerged and disappeared. The horizon thus embodied the idea of sunrise and sunset, becoming the symbolic place of birth, death and regeneration. The connection of the mountain symbol with the solar circle is seen in the closely related Egyptian glyph Akhet, which shows the sun rising above the mountain horizon. The symbolism of the horizon, with the sun rising or setting, became an important one in ancient Egypt. The hieroglyphic sign for "horizon" (Akhet ) shows the two peaks of the mountain glyph with the solar disk appearing between them on the horizon from which the sun emerged or disappeared. The sunset then becomes symbolic of death as the suns body passes into the realm of the dead or underworld. The underworld is considered a place of renewal, and is represented by a stylized snake. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXII
▲ Mid-summer sun setting between the pyramid of Khafre (left) and the Great Pyramid of Khufu (right).
The silhouette of the two pyramids in shadow with the golden sun setting between them resembles the "Akhet" hieroglyph for "horizon", approx. 2.700 B.C.E.▼
However, the same cosmologial concept has not been preserved only in Old Europe and Egypt, but also in other ancient cultures around the world. The Southeast Asian temples are usually models of Mt. Meru, which itself has the double mountain coded into a single symbol. In this case, Meru has two peaks, Sumeru and Kumeru, the latter located on the opposite side of the world. In Mesoamerica, the sacred mountains are represented as two opposing triangles connected at their bases. The alignment of the mountain of the Sun to the east and the mountain of the Moon to the West as found in the Kapampangan myth referenced earlier is fairly closely represented at Teotihuacan. There the Pyramid of the Sun stands to the southeast of the Pyramid of the Moon. Both the Mayans and Aztecs had ideas of the Sun rising from the top of a pyramid. Among the Aztecs the Sun of the fifth and present era in their calendar arose in such a way (Manansala 2006). BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXIII
As previously explained the cosmologial concept for horizon is deeply rooted in millenia-old tradition of Old European culture. The pentagonal altar depicting the sun rising between two mountain peaks and descending into the underworld dominated by a stylized snake are the exclusive prerogative of societies steeped in pyramid culture. This shattering evidence establishes a direct link not only between Old European artifacts and the stećaks, but also between stećaks and, it must be pointed out, the Bosnian pyramid phenomenon. This hypothesis, however, is further proved by stećak monuments embedded with the symbol for horizon, as well other prehistoric artifacts.
▲ Two examples of stećaks: a stele and a recumbent monolithic stone in the shape of a pentagon decorated both with the Old European symbol for “Horizon”, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The pictures above are related to a stele in Biljeg, and a stećak in Rogatica. Both monolithic stones are characterized by the ornamental symbol for horizon, exactly as the monuments of Egypt. The Old European and Bosnian concept of the "Soul" represented by the "Horizon" embedded into a "Pentagon" are a direct reflection of the Egyptian concept of the five parts of man, related to the human being as made up of five different elements; the Ba, the Ka, the Akh, the Ren and Shwt. A better understanding of the men will be provided later by the elements (Fire, Air, Water, Earth), sacred concept of the five parts of ancient Greek esoteric doctrine of the and the doctrine of transmigration.
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Beside the symbol for horizon, also the symbol referable to the concept of a multi-layered universe has been embedded in stone by Old European culture. Like in other pyramid cultures the people of Old Europe pictured a universe consisting of heavens above and underworlds below, with the human world interposed between. The heavens consisted of different layers stacked above the earth, and the earth rested on the back of a serpent floating in the primordial ocean. Linking the three realms was a giant pyramid whose base was anchored to the underworld, while its peak stretched to the heavens. The gods and the souls of the dead traveled between these worlds along this imaginary Tree of Life, called by the Mayas Ceiba and by the Egyptians Tamarisk. The Tree of Life grew out of the Sacred Mound (The Pyramid).
◄ Late Chalcolithic pectoral (amulet), Kodjadermen, Gumelniţa, Karanovo IV, Bulgaria, between 7.000 – 3.500 B.C.E. (The Rousse Regional Museum of History)
This artifact as many other of such kind has been recovered only recently from unclassified piles of a museum. The pectoral displays a pyramid whose base is rooted deep in the river of souls, while its peak reach for the heavens. Since there is no two without three, we find the same symbol in dozen examples and various artistic expressions embedded on stećaks. The symbol of a double spiral with a single stem from which double volutes branch, is also the most common spiral motif found on stećaks (Wenzel M. - Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - p. 178 ~ 199).
► Example of a stećak from Brajinci, Šekovići, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This example represents the final proof that the origin of pagan symbols encountered on the stećak monuments has originated in the millennia-old tradition of Old Europe and, it is worthy to say, that the spirit of a pyramid culture is inseparably merged in the architectural layout of stećaks. More examples are presented on the next page (Wenzel M. – Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - p. 199).
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▲ Example of a pillar crowned with a truncated pyramid, Serbia; votive pyramid from Visoko. ►
The truncated pyramid situated at the top of the pillar and examples of votive pyramids given in this page have the same shape and are associated with a chevron pattern (the symbol of water). It means that all two-dimensional as well three-dimensional representations of triangles/pyramids associated with a zigzag pattern represent the same spiritual concept. I think I may have arrived at a point where no further evidence is needed to prove a common ancestral origin and inseparable link between Old European sanctuaries, the stećak phenomenon, and the pyramids.
▲ Tisza culture, Kökénydomb, Hódmezövásárhely, southeastern Hungary, 5th millennium B.C.E.
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The Myth of the Mediaeval Tombstone
The simplistic conclusion that a stećak was designed exclusively during the mediaeval period to stand over graves as a religious monument (tombstone), based on the assumption that they bear a marked symbolism characteristic of mediaeval art, has become over the past decades mainly a matter of philosophical and political speculation more than a result of scientific methodology. Like any other popular scientific myth, rather than providing more plausible answers on the origins of a complex and unique archaeological phenomenon, the proposed theory often lacks basic evidence of a developmental sequence through which scientific ideas pass on their way to final acceptance. As an introductory example of flawed scientific reasoning, beside radically opposed opinions among the most notorious scholars (Bešlagić, Wenzel, Lovrenović), can be taken the attitude to classify stećaks as tombstones, a religious monument of the Churches of the Middle Ages. Curiously, only five thousand of seventy thousand registered stećkas bear carved decorations, while of five thousand only four hundred dirty-eight to date have been recorded upon which crosses potentially amenable to the various churches form the major element (Wenzel M. - Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - p. 91). A question arises spontaneously: How is it possible that the most representative symbol of both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches involves such a small number of stećaks? Moreover, four hundred thirty-eight stećaks and some two hundred examples of stećaks where crosses form a minor element, together with cross-shaped stones and engraved inscriptions dating to the mediaeval period, do not even constitute twenty percent of ornamental motifs on stećaks bearing decorations. Last but not least, it must be emphasized that many of the cross-variants appearing on the stećaks are antropomorphized forms of crosses, swastikas, and a simple cross with a single ring at the top known as the ancient Egyptian symbol of "Life", the Ankh ( ). Although examples of the Ankh can be found all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is only one example of a roughly datable stećak bearing the Ankh (Wenzel M. – Ukrasni motivi na stećcima - p. 92, 93). Faced with such contradictory evidence, and in the absence of other reliable historical sources, some historians felt forced to ascribe the authorship of the stećaks to the Bogomil (or Bogumil) doctrine. However, also this hypothesis can be easily disproved, since stećaks are not found where this doctrine originated and was mainly preached, namely, Bulgaria and Macedonia. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXVII
▲ The Bogomil migration through Europe. Only in Bosnia is found a high concentration of stećaks.
Additionally it must be pointed out that the social-religious program of the Bogomils included the condemnation of wealth and the rejection of feudal exploitation and state authority. They also rejected the dominant Eastern Christian church and its hierarchy, temples, and the sacraments and ceremonies performed by the priests. Likewise they spurned all the material objects used by the Orthodox as vehicles for Grace and supports for prayer, principally the Cross, the saints, and they condemned the use of icons as well the veneration of relics. Bogumils remained distant from all religious preachers, indifferent to secular affairs (Obolensky D. - The Bogomils: A Study in Balkan Neo-Manichaeism - p. 130). Sources related to Bogomil funerary practice are rare. However, few examples exist. Archaeological excavations in Bulgaria and Romania revealed modest graves dating to the 15 th century. Beside a special arrangement of the forearms and the hands of the deceased, archaeologists encountered a complete lack of funerary inventory, including clothing, while the grave was marked by a stele decorated with the palm of a hand (Laurențiu Rădvan - At Europe's borders: medieval towns in the Romanian principalities – p. 221). There are indeed some examples of stećaks bearing the decoration of an isolated hand, or palm, referred to as the Hand of God, as well as arms holding a sceptre or other objects, and orant figures. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXVIII
However, antique paralles to arm symbolism is more likely found in principles deeply rooted in Hindu thought referable to Vedic faith tradtions (The Trimurti), or in Egyptian religion where hands or arms were often associated with rulers, divinities or the concept of soul and regeneration.
▲ Figures (from left to right): Egyptian hieroglyphic signs for "arm", "ka", and arm hoding the Aba sceptre.
In ancient Egypt the sceptre or staff is one of the most ancient symbols of authority. The words "nobleman" and "official" both included the hieroglyph of a staff, so at an early stage the staff seems to have represented the authority of any person with significant power, not just the pharaoh. One of the oldest staffs discovered in Egypt was recovered from a pre-dynastic grave in El Omari, a neolithic site near Cairo. Geb, the Egyptian God of Earth, and father of Osiris, is often shown reclining on his side with an arm bent at the elbow. A description of the iconography of Geb occurs in Pyramid Text where we read that he holds "one arm to the sky and the other to the earth".
▲ Example of stećak with arm bent at the elbow, Bakići, Olovo Region, Bosnia.
Arms bent at the elbow, or holding a sceptre, as well as orant figures with upturned arms found in Bosnia can be all associated with the idea of the soul and its regeneration. Most probably these symbols were used to refer to that aspect of men and gods that is connected with the creative life force, and the aspect that differentiates a living person from a dead one. After someone died, his soul continued to exist (and thus also the person, because the body was only the visible expression of the power of the soul) and continued to need to be fed. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXIX
Such spiritual practice had originated in Old European culture as well, where the soul of the deceased was supplied with food through food offerings. Examples of Neolithic sanctuary models with a hole on top for votive offerings are not uncommon. The same feature in the form of a large round niche can be found on top of different types of stećaks. It means that stećaks can also be considered as an altar to feed the soul of the dead with both food offerings as sacred symbols.
▼ Neolithic votive temple with a hole at the top for votive offerings. Porodin, 6th millennium B.C.E.
▼ Example of stećak with large round votive niche at the top, Radovlje, Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conclusion that can be drawn is that the modest funerary practice of the Bogomils is in contradiction with the mastodontic production of thousands of stone monuments weighing tons and rich of the iconography that characterizes stećak monuments. Summarizing everything aformentioned, it becomes clear that the widely accepted hypothesis related to stećaks as an exclusive prerogative of the Middle Ages remains rather unconvincing and should therefore be subjected to revision. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXX
Contradictory evidence against the hypothesis of a mediaeval origin of stećaks does not end here. Another problem that clearly emerged is related to human remains usually associated with these monuments. Although archaeological evidence has shown that a relevant number of stećaks have been placed indeed upon graves during the mediaeval period, in most other cases evidence suggests clearly the contrary. According to my personal experience and evidences that emerged during field research inside the Visoko valley, together with oral testimony of farmers who often move these monuments for agricultural purposes, examples of stećaks without human skeletal remains such as skulls, tigh-bones etc. surpass largely those where such remains are found. An explicit example of such evidence is presented hereafter.
▲ Examples of stećaks discovered during the construction work for a modern villa in Ginje, Kralupi Valley, Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Examples of parallelbipedal stećaks are seen on the left, while on the right side can be seen a recumbent stećak reposed on a stereobate.
The above shown examples of stećaks were discovered during construction work for a modern villa in Ginje. More than twelve truck loads of these stones have been carried away while removing large portions of a nearby hill. Of over a hundred of stećaks carried away only one resulted to be placed upon the skeletal remains of a human. About thirthy stećaks were kept by the landowner and afterwards buried in the backyard of the villa. It means that the vast majority of these monoliths have not been thought to stand as a religious monument upon a grave (tombstone). This, however, is not the first time that archaeologists and researchers of the stećak phenomenon are faced with such evidence. Similar analogies have often been encountered also in the study of early stages of Old European societies, where such evidence spurred some of the most puzzling problems in the study of prehistoric cults related to the veneration of the ancestors. This hypothesis, however, together with all others aforementioned, implies another possibility to link and assign the authorship of stećak phenomenon to a far older culture. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXXI
The Purifying Fire of Old Europe
One of the most puzzling traditions of Chalcolithic Old Europe apparently was the intentional burning of houses after a period of use as a dwelling. Archaeologists are not sure why some houses were burned, but it may be presumed that homes of important people were burned after their death. The discovery of cremated human bones in the debris of intentionally burned dwellings suggests furthermore that cremation might have been employed by several Old European cultures. In ancient times to set a house on fire was probably perceived as a form of purification. The archaeological evidence of house burning, as opposed to accidental burnings or hostile acts of war, is a relatively new area of research in Old European archaeology. Research has shown that the majority of houses set on fire were fully equipped with artifacts of daily life. Statistical analysis of artifacts belonging to different cultures (Gumelniţa, Petreşti, PreCucuteni, Cucuteni-Trypolie, Vinča etc.) demonstrates that most of the burned structures contained a large number of ceramic vessels and other objects. In other words, the house was sacrificed to the fire with its entire inventory of equipment. The hypothesis of house burning in Old Europe was confirmed by the experimental construction and intentional burning carried out by archaeologists at various sites under controlled conditions. The conclusion of archaeologists involved in the experiment was unanimous: the kind of intense burning seen in many Neolithic archaeological sites could only be produced intentionally, and must have been performed “as purifying rituals”. (D.W. Anthony, J. Chi - The Lost World of Old Europe - p. 99) No cemeteries are known for the Petreşti culture of Transylvania, the Pre-Cucuteni culture, or Cucuteni-Trypolie culture. In a few settlements isolated inhumation graves have been found, especially of children and adolescents. An identical phenomenon was encountered by archaeologist in the context of the Butmir culture. Except for several burials of children in Obre II (Benac 1973a, 72–82), human remains and collective cemeteries were unknown in the context of Butmir-sites. Cemeteries with over a hundred cremation graves are known from sites of the Gorodsk culture, western Ukraine, dating to about 3.000 B.C.E. The Linear Pottery culture, which existed from 5.500-4.500 B.C.E. in present-day Hungary, practised cremation, as well as inhumation. However, there appears to have been a distinction made in this culture on where the bodies were interred, based on gender and social dominance. Women and children were found to be buried beneath the floor of the house, while men were missing, indicating some other funerary practice was performed. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXXII
The most plausible hypothesis that provides a possible explanation for the absence of burials and skeletal remains in both early Old European cultures and many stećak monuments remains that related to the purification of the deceased through fire. This hypothesis can be supported by archaeological evidence as well as a widespread esoteric symbolism found on stećak monuments closely related to the concept of the “Purifying Fire”. Interestingly, the concept of the purifying fire is in close relationship with the concept of the “The Central Fire”, or “The Fire in the Middle” (from Greek pyramidos). The Doctrine of Transmigration in Pythagorean Philosophy will allow us to establish a direct link between Old European purification rituals using fire, votive objects bearing the symbols for horizon and soul, the stećak phenomenon, and the pyramids. This analysis will bring us shortly back to the Egyptian concepts of five parts of men previously discussed but, this time, it will be explained from the Pythagorean point of view related to the four elements (Fire, Air, Water, Earth). First of all, it should be pointed out that the Pythagorean view of the universe rested squarely on the belief that counting numbers were the key to the various qualities of mankind and matter. Since in their view everything was composed of numbers, the explanation for an objects existence could only be found in numbers themselves. To the Pythagoreans the holiest number of all was the number ten or the tetractys, a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows (Fig. left). Among other qualities the first four numbers (1, 2, 3, and 4) had a special significance in that their sum accounted for all the possible dimensions. Since these were the only numbers that were needed to demonstrate all known objects geometrically, the sum of all these objects or numbers is believed to represent the known Universe: 1+2+3+4=10 Since the tetractys was the symbol for the Universe, the Pythagoreans believed that there had to be ten heavenly bodies. In addition to the visible earth, sun, moon and five planets, they added a central fire and a "counter-earth" on the opposite side of the central fire. This initial attempt at explaining cosmology in terms of mathematical principles is the foundation of our present models for the Universe. In addition to the tetractys, the Pythagoreans developed other concepts of "fourness" in nature such as the material elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth (Fig. below). BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXXIII
It should be observed with particular attention that the pentagon embodies the physical order of the elements. If we stay on the mundane level we have Fire-Air-Water-Earth, and we can make it a cycle anticlockwise by returning from Fire to Earth across the horizontal line of the pentagon. Likewise, the pentagon includes the extension of the physical order, which inclusion of the ascent to the Spirit: Earth-Water-Air-Fire-Spirit by a anticlockwise circuit. In Pythagorean esoteric doctrine, among all other elements, Fire is considered the primary agent of change. In Physics, Fire corresponds to energy, whereas the other three Elements (Air, Water, Earth) correspond to states of matter. We must keep in mind, however, that these are just physical manifestations of the Four Elements, which are spiritual archetypes. According to the Pythagoreans, the belief that the soul of the deceased goes first to the nearest Fire, and from there to the stars, Moon, Sun, and finally to Heavenly Light, ante-dates even the Zoroastrian tradition. This path is mimicked in the symbolic death of initiation, which suggests that the soul must ascend through the Planetary Spheres before it can reach the Afterlife. However, before the soul can ascend through the spheres, it must be purified by Fire. One must descend into Darkness to find the source of Light; one must die in order to be reborn. Thus heroization occurs through an actual or symbolic death by Fire. This is because Fire is the purifiying element; it burns away the transient and imperfect, thereby freeing the soul and immortalizing it. Based on this idea it can be suggested that in Old Europe, as in the most ancient Vedic tradition, it was believed that the fire conveys the deceased to the heavenly realm.
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By descent through the Crater of Rebirth, the initiate arrives at Axis Mundi [World Axis, or Axis Munde (lit. Axis of the Mound)], which gives simultaneous access to the Heavens and the Underworld. The World Axis is known from Egyptian and Mayan sacred texts as the trunk of the “Tree of Life”. Also, as already demonstrated in this paper, it is the symbol found on Old European artefacts, as well as on stećak monuments in various and countless artistic expressions.
▲ Example of stećak depicting the Promethean Narthêx, rising towards the apex of a two-dimensional representation of the pyramid, and supported bt the “Kundalini swirling within”; D. Bakići, Olovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Wenzel M. – Ukrasni motivi na stećcima – p. 195).
Lithuanian archaeologist Marija Gimbutas explained that Old European fire celebrations were symbolic of the female sexual fire, sometimes referred to as “Kundalini rising within”, which again recalls the Promethean Fire brought to humanity in a Narthêx, a giant stalk. There in the womb of the Old European Mother Goddess the soul of the deceased may be purified by Fire in preparation for rebirth. The passage through Fire is a means of uniting with the universe, which is a Cosmic Fire according to Heraclitus. Fire rises to the heavens, where it becomes the essence of the stars. According to the Pythagoreans, the Enveloping Fire (the Kundalini energy depicted on stećaks in the form of spirals) is balanced by a Central Fire (the stalk - Narthêx). Indeed, Empedocles says that many fires burn beneath the Earth, that the Solar Fire was born in the bowels of the Earth, and that Volcanic Fire shoots to the Heavens and licks the stars. Thus Fire is the highest and the lowest Element; it is as though the Elemental Square has been unfolded into a line. This results in a series of cosmic spheres: Celestial Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and Central Fire. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXXV
The Celestial Fire mirrors the Central Fire as though in a higher octave. Empedocles teaches that the ultimate source of all Fire is Hades, and that the Central Fire is the source of all life, creation and destruction.
◄ Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun; Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina (with the famous artistic representation of the beam of light reaching the sky). “And so, the Solar Fire shoots to the Heavens and licks the stars.”
More precisely, the Central Fire is Tartaros, Zeus's Guard Tower (i.e. Phulakê Diós), which is below Hades (the Greek god of the Underworld). According to myth, after the Sun sets, it shines in Tartaros, the mythical Underworld. Therefore the Central Fire is known as the Dark Sun, the Black Sun, the Invisible Sun, the Subterranean Sun and the Volcanic Sun, and there is a paradoxical unity between the Sun and the Underworld (as encountered in Old European artifacts as well stećak monuments). The astrological symbol for the Sun represents the Fire at the center; also known as "The Fire in the Midlle" (from Greek pyramidos), The Pyramid. It becomes more than plausible to suggest that the Pythagorean Central Fire with its peculiarity of “invisibility” can be associated with the invisible and non-audible (ultrasound) energy beam of 28 kHz that shoots out of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun towards the heavens, “where it becomes the essence of the stars”. This astonishing scientific evidence represents one of the great wonders born from the project of the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids, suggesting indeed that the Pythagorean Doctrine of Transmigration, and those of other ancient cultures, may well be true. If Empedocles and Heraclitus were alive, they surely would agree with me [emphasis added].
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Before coming to the conclusions of this study I would like to forward the hypothesis that the absence of skeletal remains in both early Old European cultures in many examples of stećaks can be ascribable to the custom of purifying the deceased through fire (cremation). Such hypothesis is basically supported by archaeological evidence dating to the early phase of some Old European cultures, as well as religious symbolism in close relationship with the concept of the "Purifying Fire", the ancestral believe that fire conveys the deceased to heaven. The ritual of cremation of these cultures may have been designed to do much more than dispose of the body; it was intended to release the soul from its earthly existence (as explained by the Pythagorean Doctrine of Transmigration). Probably, the process of cremation, compared to burial or outside disintegration, was believed to be most spiritually beneficial to the departed soul. Furthermore, isolated inhumation graves mainly belonging to children in the context of Butmirsites, where human remains and collective cemeteries are unknown, may be explained by a similar phenomenon encountered in ancient Vedic traditions. The only bodies that are not generally burned are unnamed babies and the lowliest of castes, who are usually returned to the earth. Another hypothesis that can be forwarded, beside the presumption that ashes were gathered and left to the natural elements, is that in particular cases (i.e. in the case of important people) the ashes were mixed with clay to make devotional images. Such rituals are known from Tibetan traditions, where after the cremation process some of the ashes are preserved and mixed with earth and moulded in miniature stupas known as tsha-tsha [擦擦 (Kvaerne P. 1985)]. It must be underlined that the sacred architecture of Tibetan stupas integrates a square base representing the four cardinal sides of the element Earth, a dome (or vase) representing the element Water, a conical spire representing Fire, an upper lotus parasol and crescent representing the element of Air, and the Sun as dissolving point representing the element of Spirit (Beer R. 2004). Such hypothesis can be further suggested in the case of artificial stećaks as those found in the locality Brdo, Ginje, Kralupi Valley, Visoko (Pašic M. 2008). It could be that ashes were mixed into the concrete mass of artificial stećaks. Of course, such presumption must be further supported by archaeological evidence and laboratory analysis. In conclusion, it must be pointed out that Mediaeval Churches officially banned cremation, with exception when people were burned at the stake. Therefore, the hypothesis which ascribes the authorship of stećaks to these Churches, remains in absence of more counter-evidence unfounded. BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XXXVII
One of the main mistakes made by the representatives of the dogmatic stećak scholarship was that to prefer to identify and analyse the historical, artistic and religious phenomenon of stećaks in a more familiar context by giving clear preference to Western European culture as the alleged place of origin. The claim that stećaks represent religious monuments (tombstones) amenable to a common and exclusive tradition amongst Catholic, Orthodox and “Bosnian Church” followers alike is strongly disproved by the millennia-old archaeological evidence presented in this paper. A further indication of an imposed classification made by the dogmatic scholarship, beside that of basing the Christian origins of stećaks on a symbolism which represents the minority of ornamental motifs, is that to discredit a variety of symbols and motifs of pagan origin as an anomaly or unclassifiable surplus of marginal significance. Although there are numerous proofs that stećaks were used as gravestones of Orthodox Christians and Catholics, and even some indications that a discrete number of stećaks was produced during the Middle Ages, the reuse of many stećaks during the Middle Ages cannot be excluded a priori. The reuse of ancient monuments and building materials of earlier cultures is a common phenomenon observed in many places around the world. As a reference can be taken the reuse and repurposing of older monuments as building materials in Egyptian building projects. Karnak temple offers many interesting examples of this practice. It should be remembered that many stećaks were reused in recent times for the construction of contemporary buildings. The archaeological evidence availabale today examined in the contexts of architecture, religious art and ancient philosophical tradition has allowed to establish and expose a close relationship between millennia-old artefacts of the Old European continent, the stećak phenomenon, and the pyramids of Bosnia. Moreover, the analysis performed through different contextual concepts has allowed to close the sacred loop and fill necessary gaps to rejoin all the aforementioned elements with their "True Spirit", their ancestral origin. Many scholars have underestimated the millenia-old undying Spirit of Old European culture, the importance of the stećak phenomenon, and the pyramids of Bosnia. Differently from what we've been told, stećaks do not belong to the war mongering Churches of the Middle Ages, who burned people at the stake, which included many humble preachers of the Bogomil faith, whilst waging crusades against their doctrines.
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Stećaks are not and must not be considered the cultural property of politically-oriented academicians or media, which are marely the results of a socially divided world, but are the cultural and spiritual inheritance of the borderless, peaceful and egalitarian world of Old Europe. In this very moment, the Light of Eternity of Old European culture shines through the veils of time more than ever before and, as Pythagoreans would paraphrase it: "It shoots to the Heavens and licks the stars".
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WENZEL, M. 1965 Ukrasni motivi na stećcima Ornamental motifs on tombstones frome medieval Bosna and surrounding regions Veselin Masleša Sarajevo
BEŠLAGIĆ, Š. 1979 Stećci – Kultura i Umjetnost Akademija nauka i umjetnosti Bosne i Hercegovine Sarajevo
DIZDAR, G. 2012 The ideology of stećak scholarship Sarajevo
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GIMBUTAS, M. 1991 The Civilisation of the Goddess Harper. San Francisco
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OBOLENSKY, D. 2004 The Bogomils – A Study in Balkan Neo-Manichaeism Cambridge University Press LAURENŢIU, R. 2010 At Europe's borders: Medieval towns in the Romanian principalities Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden Netherlands MANANSALA. P.K. 2006 Quest for the Dragon and Bird Clan Lulu Press OPSOPAUS, J. 1999 The Ancient Greek Esoteric Doctrine of the Elements Biblioteca Arcana KINGSLEY, P. 1995 Ancient Philosophy, Mystery and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition Oxford University Press KVAERNE, P. 1985 Iconography of Religions XII, 13 Tibet Bon Religion Institute of of Religious Iconography State University Groningen – Leiden E.J. Brill BEER, R. 2004 The encyclopedia of Tibetan symbols and motifs Serindia Publications, Inc. Chicago PAŠIĆ, M. 2008 Arheološkis lokalitet "Brdo", Kralupi, Visoko University of Zenica, Bosna i Hercergovina BOSNIAN-PYRAMID.ORG © 2012 XLII
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