Is it possible that visitors from another planet came to Earth long ago, at the time of a cataclysm that nearly wiped out our species? First mulled over by Erich von Daniken in his 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods, evidence of the possibility has been piling up ever since. Some proponents think E.T. may be watching us even now, as climate change threatens the planet once again.
Ancient drawing from a cave wall in Sego Canyon, Utah.
In the 1976 bestseller,The Sirius Mystery, historian Robert Temple suggested extraterrestrials had not just saved homo sapiens from extinction thousands of years ago, but went on to rock the cradle of western civilization. Starting with an anthropological study of the Dogon tribe in Mali, Temple unraveled a bizarre tale connecting ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece to the Sirius star cluster, which is 8.6 light-years away from earth. The Dogon, he wrote, may have once been a Greek tribe associated with the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Described by Herodotus as the Lemnians (or Minyans), the group migrated across the Mediterranean to Libya, eventually putting down roots in present-day Mali. There, it intermingled with the local population of what would become the legendary city of Timbuktu.
According to Dogon legends, a certain watery planet within the Sirius cluster is home to an alien race. Called the Nommos, these beings came to earth and instructed humans in various sciences, metallurgy and trades. In the 1940's, Dogon priests told French anthropologist Marcele Griaule that one of the stars in the cluster, known to us as Sirius B, is the home star of the Nommos' planet. They also explained that Sirius B is relatively small but extremely dense, which is consistent with a dwarf star.
The Dogon even claimed that there was a miniscule Sirius C orbiting in proximity to the larger Sirius A and B. The question on everyone's mind at the time (and still today, for that matter) was how a lowly group of primitive people could have ascertained such precise astronomical data. While Sirius B was suspected by European stargazers as far back as 1862 (based on an observed wobble in Sirius A), Sirius C wasn't discovered at all until the late 1990's. And of the three stars in the cluster, only Sirius A can be seen with the naked eye.
Most skeptics insist the Dogon acquired their knowledge of the cosmos from western missionaries. The late alien tracker Philip Koppens, a frequent commentator for the History Channel series Ancient Aliens, argued in an article on his website that Griaule perpetrated a hoax in his study of the tribe, first published in 1950. (The study is reprinted at the end of Temple's book.) According to Koppens, field investigators in more recent times were unable to verify any of the Frenchman's claims.
At left, map of Dogon territory in northern Mali. At right, the constellation Argo represents a famous ship (or ark) in ancient mythology that's associated with the ancient Greeks. For more info, visit the website DiskoftheWorld.com.
Of course, while Griaule spent 25 years earning the trust of Dogon priests, Koppen's associates (especially Walter Van Beek), only visited the country briefly. Besides the original anthropological study, a book called Le Renard Pale ("The Pale Fox") was published in 1960 following Griaule's death. Compiled by his partner, Germaine Dieterlen, it describes the progressive initiation into the mysteries Griaule received as his relationship with Dogon priests deepened over time. Temple writes in The Sirius Mystery that Griaule's funeral in Mali in 1956 attracted some quarter million mourners, such was his widespread reputation. Mali remained a French colony until 1960.
Other researchers, like Hunter Adams of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and Rutgers Professor Ivan Van Sertima, have also defended the notion of the Dogon possessing advanced astronomical knowledge. Van Sertima pointed out in an article, Lost Sciences of Africa, that Mali was a much different place in centuries past, boasting (among other achievements) the University of Timbuktu.
News Update: In 2012, islamic jihadists attacked Mali, capturing the northern part of the country, where they destroyed parts of Timbuktu. Eventually, France deployed troops to back the Mali government. (which itself was the object of a military coup before the invasion.) The jihadists were evicted, but not before they ransacked the Dogon archives, stealing thousands of ancient manuscripts.
Osirus is represented in Egyptian lore by the constellation Orion. His sister Isis (to his right) is associated with Sirius. Notice her headdress with the two cattle horns. (More about this on Page 3.) The Egyptian word for Isis translates as "throne".
Needless to say, the Dogon controversy is fraught with intrigue on many levels. At the time of the 1789 French revolution, for example, many of Marcel Griaule's countrymen already had their eye on Sirius. It seems the Egyptian goddess Isis, who presides over this star, is at the heart of freemasonry. And it was freemasonry that burst onto the Parisian scene shortly before the French monarchy fell. Eventually, Benjamin Franklin used his own freemason connections in France to garner financial and military support for the American Revolution in 1776.
That Griaule took some of his inspiration to study the Dogon from the freemasons of French history may not be too much of a stretch. Among those promoting the cult of Isis in the late 18th century were the astronomer Joseph Lalande (an influential voice in the new republic), the writer Rousseau and the troublemaker Robespierre. Even Voltaire pitched in to the cause with his short story Micromegas. It recounts the adventures of a giant alien from a planet orbiting Sirius who, just like the Nommos, travels to Earth.
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The sun sets inside the Arc de Triomphe (left) on August 6th, looking down the Champs-Élysées. According to some observers, the orientation of the arch is strikingly similar to an ancient Egyptian temple to Isis in Luxor that was aligned to the heliacal rising of Sirius. The name Paris is thought by some scholars to translate from a Roman word, Bar-Isis, meaning "la barque [boat] d'Isis". Others believe the original name was Parisis, interpreted as "near Isis". In Medieval times, a temple honoring the goddess stood at the present site of the Abbey of St. Germain, hence the geographical reference. A third theory suggests the name Paris is a contraction of two words, Pharia and Isis. This refers to Isis as the goddess of navigation and the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria that was dedicated to the goddess. For more on the French connection to Isis and Sirius, see Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval's fascinating book, Talisman: Sacred Cities, Secret Faith.
The Statue of Liberty (right) was given to the United States by the French in 1886. Its designer, freemason Frederic-Bartholdi, originally intended it for the opening of the Suez Canal in 1867, but the Egyptian government could not afford the hefty price tag. Some believe the odd seven-pointed star on top of her head pays homage to Isis. The History Channel series, Brad Meltzer's Decoded, features a 2010 episode which appears to confirm the statue's freemasonry and Isis tie-ins.
Something Fishy This Way Comes
Griaule explained in his study that the Dogon believe Nommos are a race of amphibians. These beings are alternatively referred to as "Masters of the Water", "The Monitors", and "The Teachers". Curiously, some of the biggest names in world mythology — like Enki in Babylonia, Oannes in Sumeria and Viracocha in South America — are remembered as being fish-like or fish-garbed in appearance.
One of the best-known western sources of an alleged alien visitation to Earth is the Chaldean historian Berossus. In the third century B.C. he wrote a detailed description of the Babylonian "god" Oannes, whom he learned about from reading many older accounts:
"The whole body of this being was like that of a fish; and under a fish's head another head, and also feet below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail...When the sun set, it was the custom of this Being to plunge again into the sea, and abide all night in the deep..."
On the top left, the Assyrian relief of the god Oannes makes you wonder if the artist was just trying to replicate an old description he'd read. As for the basket Oannes carries, Temple thinks it may represent some type of electronic gadget, since it shows up repeatedly in many different ancient cultures (see photos below). The image on the right is said to be a Dogon depiction of a Nommo.
At left, the baskets depicted at the top of this limestone pillar at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, dated to 11000 B.C. may be the basis for the ones appearing in the Sumerian reliefs. (See also the "Man in Serpent" sculpture from Mexico, on Page 3.) At right, common Egyptian symbols from a 12th dynasty coffin include the ankh (loop with cross), thought by some to be a stylized version of the same basket motif. In his book, Robert Temple cites many similarities between the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, suggesting both may trace back to the same ancestors.
Berossus credited Oannes and his crew with the invention of writing, architecture, agriculture, religion, science and civil planning:
"In the daytime he used to converse with men, but took no food at that season, and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and every kind of art. He taught them to construct houses, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect fruits; in short, he instructed them in every thing which could tend to soften manners and to humanize mankind."
Vedic literature from central Asia mentions a fish god named Vishnu. According to one account, Vishnu played a pivotal role in advance of the Great Flood, instructing a group of people on how to escape the catastrophe. According to the Satapatha Brahmana:
"The fish said, 'I have saved thee. Fasten the vessel to a tree, that the water may not sweep it away while thou art on the mountain, and in proportion as the waters decrease thou shalt descend.' Manu descended with the waters. The Deluge had carried away all creatures and Manu remained alone."
In Egypt, hieroglyphs equate the goddess Isis to Sirius A. As the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius A was the focal point around which the orientation of numerous temples was plotted. At the time of its annual heliacal rising (i.e. when the star occupies the same spot as the rising Sun), Sirius would cast a beam of light down each temple's main aisle at dawn, leading right up to the altar. An inscription at the Denderah Temple of Isis reads:
"She shines into her temple on New Year's Day, and she mingles her light with that of her father Ra on the horizon."
Ra is the name of the Egyptian sun god. (The "mingling" that's referred to in the quote is probably a reference to the sun occupying the same area of the sky as the star.) The Greek historian Plutarch said he learned from Egyptian priests that "Isis was born in the regions that are ever moist,". By some coincidence, the fabled creatures we know as mermaids got their start in Assyria, just a few hundred miles east of Alexandria, and even closer to Chaldea and Sumer, where Berossus lived.
Map of Assyria circa 660 B.C.
Early Greek mythology is likewise teeming with descriptions of half human, half amphibious creatures. (The H.P. Lovecraft novella, The Shadow over Innsmouth, is premised on the idea of the amphibians crossbreeding with humans to form a hybrid race.)
The Greek Telcines are described in the legends as a race of people who had flippers instead of hands. Known as the "fish children", they were entrusted with raising the god Poseidon and apparently crafted his powerful trident using advanced metallurgical technology. Poseidon eventually married the sea-nymph Amphitrite, daughter of the Old Man of the Sea, who himself was part fish. A survey of other amphibious creatures in Greek literature is available on the Crystal Links website.
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DVD's and TV Programs
Ancient Aliens - The Series The History Channel - 3 seasons. On Sale at Amazon...
In Search of Ancient Astronauts. The 1973 hour-long documentary narrated by Rod Serling. Video
The Mystery of the Sphinx. Featuring John Anthony West and geologist Robert Schoch.
Atlantis. Documentary featuring explorer George Erikson. Video
Advanced Ice Age Civilizations and Atlantis (2006) Featuring Graham Hancock.
Chariots of the Gods(1970) Comprehensive worldwide review of alien evidence in ancient monuments and drawings.
"Fear the Beach: ‘Mermaids: The Body Found,’ on Animal Planet." NY Times 5/25/12
"Top 10 Ancient Civilizations with Advanced Technology" by David Hatcher Childress.
"Evidence of Ancient Aliens?" History Channel.
"What was the Sphinx? by Robert Temple." New Dawn Jan. 2010.
"Search for extraterrestrial life is growing." Washington Post 12/27/2009.
"Origin of the Species, From an Alien View". (Interview with Zecharia Sitchin) New York Times 1/8/2010.
The Dogon and the Sirius Mystery (various articles) UFO Evidence.
"The Dogon of the French Sudan" by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. In African Worlds: Studies in the Cosmological Ideas and Social Values of African Peoples. 1954.
The Lost Sciences of Africa: An Overview by Ivan Van Sertima
The Mystery of the Dogon and Sirius B
The Story of Isis
In Search Of Ancient Astronauts - Narrated by Rod Sterling - 1973 Documentary. YouTube
Ancient Aliens: The Evidence (Episode 1/5) History Channel. YouTube
Fingerprints of the Gods (1999) by Graham Hancock.
The Sirius Mystery (1998) by Robert Temple Buy now...
The 12th Planet (1978), The Earth Chronicles (several titles), and The Earth Chronicles Expeditions: Journeys To The Mythical Past (2004) by Zecharia Sitchin
Leap of Faith (2000), by Gordon Cooper
Forbidden Archaeology (1993) by Richard Thompson and Michael Cremo.
Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients by David Hatcher Childress
Chariots of the Gods (1968) by Erich van Daniken
Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age (2003) by Richard Rudgley
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