“Nothing so mysterious, I’m afraid”

Cornel M. A. van Strijp, Investigative Reporter & Author of ‘The Black Pyramids Mystery’


‘Black pyramids have had a number of uses that differ from location to location. However, their principal function has always been the same: they were rubble containers’

Are there pyramids in the Canary Islands? World-famous explorer Thor Heyerdhal thought so, and created a tourist park around them. Other investigators have found identical structures in Sicily, Mauritius, and the Azores. Step pyramids, made of volcanic stones, on islands thousands of kilometres apart… Who built these monuments? When did they build them, and why?

Cornel M. A. van Strijpis an investigative reporter who writes about mysteries from the past and present. He has been conducting research on the ‘Black Pyramids’ that have been found on several volcanic islands, including Mauritius, using very vigorous methods. His aim is to unravel the mystery and present instead the findings uncovered by several serious researchers, but leaves it to the readers to assess them and come to their conclusions.

* Your book ‘The Black Pyramids Mystery… Solved!’ is about the so-called ‘black pyramids’ that exist in Mauritius and in other countries and seeks to find answers about who built them, when and why. What has your research into this “mystery” revealed that historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and the local people do not already know?

I may be mistaken, but your question seems to suggest that I am yet another foreign researcher offering a new hypothesis on the island pyramids or revealing new information that nobody knew about before. This is not the case. I’m an investigative reporter. My book chronicles the events around very similar stone pyramids that can be found in Mauritius, Sicily (Italy), the Canary Islands (Spain) and the Azores (Portugal). It consists of four chapters, each one recounting the discovery and the subsequent investigations of the black pyramids in each of these four locations.

Not everyone is well-informed about these stepped structures. A brief look at the printed and electronic publications on the topic makes this painfully clear. Even among the local people much confusion still exists about these pyramids. Indeed, scientists and other experts in the different islands have discovered their real origin and function. The problem is that the results of their research have not had the same media coverage as the sensational ideas of several passionate, though non-scientific, investigators. The harsh, historical reality about the so-called black pyramids remains largely unknown to the general public. My book is an attempt to remedy this.

* You mention in your book that during this voyage of discovery, you encountered “many controversial ideas and passionate beliefs about these mysterious structures”. Tell us about those ideas and beliefs. 

 I will be brief, because this has been covered already extensively in the media. Both local and international investigators have come up with highly speculative ideas about their origin, linking the stepped monuments with Atlantis, Lemuria, ancient Egypt, pre-Columbian civilizations like the Mayans, or local aboriginal cultures. In my book I discuss all these ideas at length and show that these hypotheses, though certainly entertaining, do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

* Geoffrey Summers, archaeologist, University of Manchester, says the seven small pyramidal structures found in the southeast of Mauritius, around Plaine Magnien, were built in the 1940s as a “field clearing exercise, nothing more,” and that besides the testimony of a Mahebourg inhabitant who witnessed their construction, he has seen paperwork documenting this. Has any scientific research been undertaken that holds the key to understanding this phenomenon?

Both archaeological and ethnographic research on the different islands have proven without a shadow of a doubt the agricultural origins of the so-called black pyramids. As hard proof, old documents and photographs have been presented, and both direct and indirect eyewitnesses have also come forward. My book covers this in detail.

As regards Mauritius, the subject of the step pyramids has been touched upon by several experts and scientists, one of them is Dr Summers, though no study dedicated exclusively to the matter has been published yet.

* There is also the work undertaken by French researcher and writer Antoine Gigal, who says that these structures are not merely huge mounds of rocks, given “the precision of the lines and corner angles of the pyramids…” She also maintains “these structures are more than likely remnants of a seafaring culture well able to navigate the oceans, who left their traces on islands both sides of the African continent”. What’s your take on that?

 Gigal’s findings on the black pyramids, as well as those of all other laymen and scientists who have gone public, are discussed extensively in my book. All the evidence is thoroughly examined. And with all this information at hand, the reader will be able to fully understand the phenomenon and come to the right conclusions about the true origin of the stepped stone structures.

The ideas of Miss Gigal turn out to be unsound when examined in detail. The supposed perfection of the black pyramids, even of the most accurately-built structures which appear in Tenerife and Mauritius, only exists when observing the pyramids from a distance. Gigal’s proof for an earlier discovery of Mauritius by a supposed seafaring civilization is likewise unconvincing. The French investigator also briefly mentions possible solstitial orientations in the Mauritian pyramids. The hypothesis of astronomical alignments has only once been presented in a serious way, for one pyramid complex located in Tenerife, and even there it has been disproven.

* Other investigators have found identical structures on islands thousands of kilometres apart. There does not seem to be any shared history about them. What’s the explanation to that?

That is precisely what my book is all about! Indeed, there is a connection. But it’s a very different one to what Gigal, Heyerdahl and other such investigators have imagined…

The black pyramids appear exclusively on volcanic islands with fertile soils that have been colonized in historical times and where agriculture has been the most important economic pillar.

This is where the connection lies, and also the answer to the riddle of their true purpose and origin. My book covers the political and economical history of each of the islands and explains how, when and why the black pyramids were constructed by local farmers.

* You also mention that this book on the black pyramids “will challenge your convictions if you are a ‘believer’; if you are a ‘sceptic’, it can complete your knowledge”. Are you suggesting that there is something spiritual about them, or is that a marketing teaser?

Nothing so mysterious, I’m afraid. I merely meant to say that people who believe these structures to be ancient sanctuaries will probably be surprised by the information offered in my book, and hopefully come to a more balanced and mature opinion. Those who already know or suspect the agricultural history of the black pyramids may find new information, previously unknown to them.

* At the end of the day, readers would want to know about the “real origin and function”, as you put it, of the black pyramids. What purpose did they really serve?

Though all of the black pyramids were made by farmers in past centuries, on each of the islands they have had a number of uses that differ from location to location. However, their principal function has always been the same: they were rubble containers.

Volcanic soil tends to be very fertile and has always been exploited by man for agricultural purposes. But they are also the stoniest soils on the planet, which makes ploughing and planting difficult. The farmers had to get rid of enormous amounts of rocks and stacked them in the most stable way possible for higher structures: in stepped pyramids…

* Published in print edition on 26 October 2021

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