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CNN TRANSCRIPT

S. O'BRIEN: A world wonder hiding under a hill. That's what a team of scientists in Bosnia are looking into right now. The search there for three pyramids has transformed a tiny town. CNN's Chris Burns has our story from just outside of Seriavo. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Bosnian American Sam Osmanagic is an overnight hero in his homeland. In a country devastated by war, the Houston businessman brings hope, claiming he's discovered Europe's first known pyramids, including the world's largest. Having studied Latin American pyramids for 15 years, Osmanagic has mobilized locals here into an army of excavators. Coal miners, grave diggers, farmers, the unemployed. Osmanagic pays about a third of them. The rest are volunteers. SAM OSMANAGIC, BUSINESSMAN/EXPLORER: All the skepticism will be gone. (INAUDIBLE). They're flying over in the airplane and you see the pyramid walls. What else you can say? BURNS: Well, some would just say this is just a rock base. It is a mountain. It's got some rock bases. OSMANAGIC: It can be. It can be. We get the geologists today. Once they see that they're saying it was man-made. It was brought here. BURNS: And it goes deep underground, too. Osmanagic claims this tunnel leads to three pyramids of the sun, the moon and the dragon. He's got his own pyramid mania headquarters, website and web-cams. With his trademark hat, Osmanagic is revered here as a movie star. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Indiana Jones. BURNS: But you're a "Raider of the Lost Ark" here, aren't you? OSMANAGIC: Yes. It was long lost. Now this here -- the great values here which we're going to show to the world. BURNS: Souvenir vendors aren't waiting for proof. There are pyramid t-shirts, key chains, wood carvings, postcards. All the hype has fueled its own industry. What was once the Hollywood Hotel is now the pyramid of the sun. All while Osmanagic, armed with satellite imaging, toils to attract donors and neutralize skeptics. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be great if it's a pyramid. BURNS: And what if it isn't? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that would be a scandal. BURNS: A Bosnian-American former U.S. soldier, now helping Osmanagic, says even he is skeptical but sees a better good in the effort. AMER SMAILBEGOVIC, GEOPHYSICIST: I'd rather be digging up here and discovering a pyramid and using all the science in order to find something than looking for mass graves. BURNS: If anything, the Bosnian Texan has gotten his shattered homeland to think big and to dream. Chris Burns, CNN, Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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03/05/2006 10:15