THE PROBLEM(S) WITH SITCHIN…AND HIS DETRACTORS
I often get asked the question "What do you think of Zechariah Sitchin?" In fact, I get aksed that question so much that I am going to attempt to deal with it here. Throughout my ancient technology books I have referred to Sitchin a great deal. There is no denying his views have been influential both upon me and many others. That said, I do have problems with his work, and they are major, but in the main they may be broken down into three classes: (1) idiosyncratic translations; (2) his "big picture;" and (3) failure to follow up legitimate insights. Let's take the last two first, and deal with translations at the end, because there is where I have some problems with his detractors as well.
The "Big Picture":
Most everyone familiar with the late Zechariah Sitchin's works are familiar with his uncanny ability to ferret out the obscure, all in aid of a grand scenario that included colliding planets, Annunaki-bearing rocket ships from Nibiru bearing gods who come to Earth, genetically engineer a slave species (that's us incidentally) to mine gold which they could reduce to a powder and spray their atmosphere (on Nibiru of course) in some sort of ancient chemtrails operation. As I've attempted to outline in my book The Cosmic War I have problems with the whole "catastrophist" reading of such references in ancient texts to begin with, with colliding planets, planetary explosions, and so on. Beyond that, however, there is the persistent inability of Sitchin to envision any technology or physics more advanced than rocket ships and nuclear weapons. In some sense then, my books could, I suppose, be taken to be a sort of "response," or rather, alternative examination of such texts, to show that there might be other possibilities of interpretation. Certainly I wouldn't maintain my own scenario(s) dogmatically. They are exercises in interpretation, as if to say, "If there are technologies implied in these texts, they do not necessarily have to be rocket ships and nuclear weapons." There are other possibilities.
Failure to Follow Up Legitimate Insights
This to me was always one of the fundamental problems with Sitchin (not to mention the most fundamental of them all, translations). For example, Sitchin in his book The Wars of Gods and Men makes a long, somewhat torturous and involved argument that the Lugal-e refers to the Great Pyramid as a weapon. Having made this rather astonishing observation, Sitchin never followed up on it, perhaps because the type of weaponry implied did not fit the rocket ships and nuclear weapons that became a part of his model. There are other such insights, for example, his attempt(s) to relate or identify the various gods in respective pantheons on the basis of his translational work. But he avails himself little of the insights of de Santillana or von Dechend, or Lockyear, and other such studies which approach that problem not so much from the standpoint of philology but astronomy. To me, this was always one of the most frustrating aspects of reading Sitchin. And this leads us to my final, and largest problem:
Anyone who has read Sitchin will initially be impressed with his apparent knowledge of ancient and obscure languages, and his apparent ability to recast translations of standard words (Dur-an-ki comes to mind here) in the service of his larger model. Sumerian and Assyrian and Akkadian cuneiograms that resemble cylinders with points, for example, are sometimes understood to be "rockets," and so on. While it is true that such cuneiograms are very evocative in their symbolic possibilities, Sitchin would have done better simply to utilize standard academic translations (which he references in his bibliographies) and to argue his case rather than twist the translations themselves.
By the same token, however, it seems to me that to attempt to discredit Sitchin (or anyone else for that matter that resorts to translational "reconstruction") simply on the basis of thumping one's academic credentials and saying that "you must trust me here because I'm an expert" is rather like the scientific magisterium which often does the same thing when it thumps its equations and says certain things are impossible because they do not fit some standard academic model of what is possible, and what is not. Such approaches or arguments from authority simply - in my opinion - will fall on deaf ears since most people are not in the position of doing tensor calculus, or for that matter, Assyrian or Akkadian, on a daily basis. Anyone who has studied such languages knows how deep and complex they are and how multi-layered meanings are possible in them. It might even be said that, so far as Sumerian is concerned, that we see that language "through an Akkadian glass darkly." (That remark, incidentally, is that of Dietz Otto Edzard, in Sumerian Grammar, Brill, 2003, p. 7.)
One can, for example, come up with fascinating explanations of the technological possibilities implied by ancient monuments and texts based on those standard models of physics (see, for example, the fascinating work of Edward Malkowski or Chris Dunn); or one can, as I attempt to do in my various books, utilize less-well known and even disputed models of physics - torsion explanations of gravity for example - to explain the same things; while the resulting explanations will be different, both approaches seem legitimate to me as we're all trying to unravel a puzzle that appears to challenge the standard models of history that reign within academia. Philology alone will not get rid of the technological and historical problems posed by those monuments, or for that matter, some ancient texts.
My personal approach therefore has always been somewhat different than a philological one, and that has been to assume, for the sake of argument, that such "Sitchinesque" scenarios might be implied by standard translations, or, for that matter, idiosyncratic ones, and then to argue on the basis of the technological and scientific possibilities that those represent. Cast in this fashion, one has to deal with the "larger picture" implied and the issues it represents, rather than with the minutiae of philology exclusively. My approach has been to raise the issues, not for a philological response, but for an apologetic one. In that sense, then, philological arguments certainly are not excluded, but become part of the puzzle, rather than a be-all and end-all "trump card" to be played whenever such issues are implied. But by the same token, such an approach excludes the response "you must trust what I say because I'm an expert in this narrow area." Such a response is not an argument, it is only the basis for an argument, and no one, in my opinion, regardless of their expertise in this or that subject area, can afford an attitude of pride of position simply because of their given expertise.
But lest I be mistaken here, no one should be dismissed because of their given area of expertise either. I have been repeatedly attacked in certain quarters because my academic background is patristics, a field demanding a lot of languages, philosophy, history, law, science, and so on. As if that disqualifies me from forming opinions about certain things and arguing those opinions. Thus to say that philologists have nothing to contribute to the discussion of the possibilities of ancient technologies, or the stories contained in ancient texts and their vast implications, would be of course an absurdity. It would be like the geneticist telling the philologist that the latter can form no legitimate opinions on the implications of certain ancient texts because their area of expertise is not that implied by the ancient texts! It is time for everyone to calm down, and to start treating each other - specialist and non-specialist alike - with respect and courtesy, and that includes treating the late Mr. Sitchin with some respect as well, notwithstanding the many difficulties of his work. None of us can afford to stand on academic credentials nor should they even enter the discussion. When the academy starts offering PhDs in "Atlantology" with all the scientific, archaeological, philological, and mathematical discipline such a degree would require, then and only then can any of us afford to "stand on our credentials," and even then, I suspect, there would be no place for such an attitude.
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An interesting child’s sci-fi cartoon from 1981 (Ulysses 31). The story during the first 2minutes should strike a real chord with you Joseph:
but you avoid discussing that what he includes as an illustration of a mural that was found in the tomb of huy is nowhere to be found and is likely fabricated to support his “theory”. why don’t you call sitchin what he is? why don’t you question the whole message he’s bringing? he’s setting a stage for something, but you make it seem his “errors” were because of his limited worldview. you give him too much credit and you are perpetuating his bullshit.
what about the missing mesopatamian spaceship relics? for instance, the illustration of a spaceship contained in sitchin book “stairway to heaven” – figure 27 – explicated by sitchin to be a drawing of a mural from the tomb of huy, but, besides sitchin’s account, it is otherwise unaccounted for and very widely believed to be sitchin’s convenient invention.
One big problem with Sitchin’s work is simply the disagreement about translating such an ancient language – one which has not been spoken in thousands of years. One may be able to begin to understand simple meanings ans such, but the more complex ideas and subtle hints of sub-text are virtually impossible to fathom. Any study of such things also must be filtered through the centuries of distortion and mind control around the ideas of gods, history, evolution, culture and so on.
I spent more than 3 years studying a current foreign language (German) in high school, and even with modern understanding and both English and German being currently spoken languages from related cultures, there are many concepts and idioms which simply do not translate. Separate those languages and cultures by several thousand years, much distortion, and different language constructions, and the problem magnifies considerably.
No one alive today is an “expert” or fluent in these ancient languages. Unless they have subconscious memories from a previous life, they are just doing a lot of guessing. There are no Daniel Jacksons for us to consult to clear it all up.
The one thing I took away from reading a bit of Sitchin was the idea to consider that the “myths” and mythical beings discussed in ancient lore might actually be real beings of some sort, and to follow that line of thinking to see how it would impact my view of the world. (Radically, by the way.) As far as accepting his interpretation, I am open minded, but remain unconvinced.
Maybe the planet busting technology was originally
built to correct this sort of mess, and got used for
war as well.
A Hypothetical Speculation: Real Worlds in Collision….Just the other night while watching on the Science Channel a program called “How the Universe Works,” mainstream astrophysicists were portending a new theory on the origins of the solar system that the now outermost planets Uranus and Neptune were originally the innermost planets, and that by some gravitational “tugging” interplay of celestial mechanics, Uranus and Neptune over time got “swung out” to their present orbits. They also suggested, because of the discovery of lithium in the sun, that the lithium signature was evidence that, at some point in the past, a third close-in gas giant literally IMPACTED into the sun! The venerable planet hunter Geoff Marcy even said that gas giants and also rocky “terrestrial” type planets could become gravitationally expelled from their parent stars, thereby filling interstellar space with very fast moving “rogue planets.” Speculation: In the heyday of the paleoancient Very High Civilization so eloquently described by Dr. Farrell, a very fast moving new comet enters the solar system. But this is no ordinary comet: it’s a rogue gas giant planet, possibly with several of its moons tagging along, caught in the gravitational well of the sun; the rogue is making a “bee-line” for our star. Perhaps one of the rogue’s moons collides with Uranus, tipping it on its side, and another smashes into Venus, turning our “sister” planet inside-out and causing its new retrograde axial spin (now its day is longer than its year!). The rogue gas giant plows into the sun. The Solar System Civilization lapses into cosmic war. The “Giza Death Star” explodes the “enemy” planet “Krypton.” Almost all of civilization and humanity dies. Enter the “Great Fimbul Winter” on earth….Perhaps this could be a new spin on the thought-provoking researches of both Dr. Farrell and Zechariah Sitchin! Or even the original speaker on “Worlds in Collision,” one Immanuel Velikovsky! Even mainstream astrophysicists, given what I saw in that Science Channel program the other night, cannot say that such a hypothetical scenario is utter nonsense or erstwhile impossible! Perhaps there may be BILLIONS of such rogue planets flying around interstellar space! YIKES!!
I think Sitchin’s best contribution was his take on the word that is usually translated as “worship” (the gods). His claim being that it should really be translated as “work for” (the gods).
There is no way to “prove” either choice, of course. But I like Sitchin’s.
I tend to agree with you Bruce.
Perhaps these two concepts are linked, one can in modern or even
ancient slave sense, “work for” some human you do not adore,
and in ways that do not imply they are deity major or minor.
The word “liturgy” means something like “the work of the people,”
perhaps work in the sense of the actions of the people in honor of
God, so work for and worship aren’t entirely mutually exclusive.
This isnt about sitchin but its the closest I could find about the Cosmic War.
If humanity is far older than standard science admits, and in your book above you talk about miscegenations and experiments, how do you feel such urmenschen or proto humans like these fit into a time scale? Were they contiguous with modern style man? http://news.discovery.com/human/early-human-ancestors-faces.html
Good questions…for now, my basic working assumptions are (1) we have genetic “cousins” of the genus homo sapiens “out there” somewhere (or at least, they WERE out there somewhere); (2) they are of great antiquity; (3) both Neanderthalensis and modern Homo sapiens sapiens may have coexisted at some point, and may both have been the result of “their” genetic tinkering. So, while genetic evidence points to the origins of homo sapiens sapiens ca 150,000-200,000 years ago, the “antiquity of man” spoken of by Cremo, Thompson, and others might related to the wider genus “homo sapiens” rather than to the particular species “homo sapiens sapiens.” Don’t know if that makes much sense or if it’s helpful, but such are, as of this moment, my basic working assumptions.
I’ve read Sitchin’s earth chronicles and I have largely read most of Heiser’s rebuttal’s to Sitchin, and fine myself largely agreeing with what his detractors say on grounds of philology or etymology of some of the word roots.
However, I equally have a problem with Sitchin’s detractors. Though sound some of their arguments may be, the attitude here seems like one of a pettifogger: nit pick around the edges enough and think you are knocking the whole thing down to the ground. I don’t really see enough of the CORE being tackled by the detractors. You can’t solve the problem focusing on ONE or A FEW disciplines. It reminds me of evangelicals or any other christians that think that etymological and philological word studies is sufficient proof of how OLD the earth is.
Yes I quite agree…this was precisely my problem with the detractors… they’re sniping and yapping around the ankles of the scenario…
Actually, you could write Sitchin and the Annunaki et al
out of the picture, maybe still draw on the idea of
mythology referring vaguely to deified humans, whose
battles might reflect some vague scrambling of ancient
history, which is the view taken by Christian writers early
on, and I think Hesiod is quoted somewhere to the same
effect, and STILL have the Giza Death Star scenario.
Because there is too much evidence of some kind of
cosmic catastrophe and wierd technology co existing,
and maybe related to each other.
Maybe Sitchin is an example of something happening
to Dr. Farrell, which has sometimes happened to other
people incl. me, start looking for one thing, and find
another, or have the wrong start, but the right end
Reminds me of the comparison someone made between
modern and traditional views of results of pollution.
Start: people poison the place midrange: modern, pollution
causes disease etc. midrange traditional, local spirits are
pissed off end result: the same, disease etc. having its
origin in human mishandling of stuff.
Given that it is possible to say that Assyria smote some country
or other, when Assyria did not geographically get up and stomp
over there like a rock monster, couldn’t some things Sitchin
interprets as a colliding planet, be rather language about
a political and military collision of people from that planet to
people over here?
Thanks Joseph for this clarification. There are however numerous points in Jonathan Gray’s “Just Sitchin Fiction?” (on-line as sitchingray.pdf) which still need addressing: texts which supposedly support his Annunaki 12th planet connection simply do not exist (p16). Besides the expected philological problems, which could perhaps be honestly argued either way, the non-existence of key source texts is very significant (and there are other cases to point to). Someone is wrong here, perhaps misleading us intentionally: either Heiser and Gray, or Sitchin….
I certainly don’t think Dr. Heiser is misleading anyone. Frankly, I have the same misgivings he does though I am certainly nowhere near the fluency in Akkadian, Assyrian or such that he is. I am aware of the lack of any textual support for Sitchin’s Nibiru scenario, but as I recall, Sitchin’s is an argued inductive case (at least on that issue) not a textual one. As for where the misdirected may be coming from, consider only that Mr. Sitchin’s offices were in Rockefeller plaza, and his business was as an antiques importer exporter (if I recall correctly).
I’ve been familiar with Sitchin’s work at least since the early 1980s. My biggest problem has been with his hypothetical planet Nibiru with such an eccentric 3600 year orbital periodicity. Couldn’t be anything like Earth because it’d be way far from the sun almost all the time. About the same time, Charles H. Hapgood’s “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age,” came to my attention suggesting the possibility of an “undiscovered” worldwide supercivilization somewhat prior to the advent of the Sumerians whose cartographical knowledge and skills are very comparable to ours since the development of the necessary mechanical timekeeping instruments to find accurate longitudes. Sitchin’s researches are still thought-provoking and of great value as far as I’m concerned, and even more so those of Dunn, Malkowski, Hoagland, LaViolette and Joseph P. Farrell, whose excellent book “The Giza Deathstar Deployed” I’m currently reading with relish! And yet I remain a proponent of Peter Ward’s and Donald Brownlee’s “Rare Earth Hypothesis!” Which is to say that I favor the hypothesis that, however long ago, an ancient solar system civilization possibly eradicated by scalar weapons technology was produced entirely by Homo Sapiens Sapiens who probably originated right here on the ground we all stand on! The blood of “the gods” of ancient lore is currently flowing in the veins of all of us!
Agreed with you Bill, I too take that view. I always had problems with the physics and planetary geology implied by Sitchin’s whole “Nibiru” hypothesis
… and by some misinterpretations later denied by subsequent studies. One of these “misinterpretations” was information about detection of ” a great astronomic body” by IRAS telescope in 1982. Here’ s some info that I have came through in internet on the cite Ask an Astrobiologist
How can you call Nibiru a hoax when your own IRAS detected it and you issued a press release in 1982 which made it to 8 major newspapers?
I’m afraid you have fallen for a classic hoax. When looking into this sort of thing, you need to read past the first paragraph, since new data are always coming along in science. There is a good discussion from Caltech to be found at http://spider.ipac.caltech.edu/staff/tchester/iras/no_tenth_planet_yet.html. Briefly, IRAS (the first infrared survey satellite, which flew more than 20 years ago) cataloged 250,000 sources in the Point Source Catalog, supplemented by an additional 100,000 in the Faint Source Catalog, and initially many of these sources were unidentified (which was the point, of course, of making such a survey). All of these observations have been followed up by subsequent studies with more powerful instruments both on the ground and in space. The rumor about a “tenth planet” erupted in 1984 after a scientific paper was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters titled “Unidentified point sources in the IRAS minisurvey”, which discussed several infrared sources with “no counterparts”. But these “mystery objects” found to be distant galaxies except one which was a wisp of “infrared cirrus” (as published in 1987). No IRAS source has ever turned out to be planet. Needless to add, the “Nibiru” promoters never follow up with the later identifications of these “mystery sources”. Another good discussion of this whole issue is to be found on Phil Plait’s website at http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/science.html#iras. The bottom line is that Nibiru is a myth, with no basis whatever in fact. To an astronomer, persistent claims about a planet that is “nearby” but “invisible” are just plain silly. David Morrison
NAI Senior Scientist
January 22, 2008
But as I read in your first book on Giza “Giza Death Star” , you have mentioned that event, citing another source (William Henry ), but left it wothout your own comments. Did you actually supported that idea in 2001?
No. Actually I was simply trying to report on an event without much commentary. I have always had – as anyone knows who has listened to me – a number of problems with Sitchin’s scenario.