“. . .he’s just another nut making a living selling books that treat folks to a tale they want to believe in.”
“…the Sumerian Epic of Creation is not an allegorical myth but a sophisticated cosmogony scientifically describing how our solar system came to be….” Zecharia Sitchin
Zecharia Sitchin, along with Erich von Däniken and Immanuel Velikovsky, make up the holy trinity of pseudohistorians. Each begins with the assumption that ancient myths are not myths but historical and scientific texts. Sitchin’s claim to fame is announcing that he alone correctly reads ancient Sumerian clay tablets. [Of course, he didn’t announce this by taking out an ad in the New York Times but by implying it with his “translations” that do not jibe with the work of legitimate scholars in the field.] If Sitchin is right, then all other scholars have misread these tablets, which, according to Sitchin, reveal that gods from another planet (Nibiru or Niburu, which orbits our Sun every 3,600 years) arrived on Earth some 450,000 years ago and created humans by genetic engineering of female apes. Niburu orbits beyond Pluto and is heated from within by radioactive decay, according to Sitchin. No other scientist has discovered that these descendants of gods blew themselves up with nuclear weapons some 4,000 years ago (The War of Gods and Men, p. 310).* Sitchin alone can look at a Sumerian tablet and see that it depicts a man being subjected to radiation. He alone knows how to correctly translate ancient terms allowing him to discover such things as that the ancients made rockets (ibid., p. 46).* Yet, he doesn’t seem to know that the seasons are caused by the earth’s tilt, not by its distance from the sun.
Sitchin was born in Russia, was raised in Palestine, and graduated from the University of London with a degree in economic history. He worked for years as a journalist and editor in Israel before settling in New York.
Sitchin, like Velikovsky, presents himself as erudite and scholarly in a number of books, including The Twelfth Planet (1976) and The Cosmic Code (1998). Both Sitchin and Velikovsky write very knowledgeably of ancient myths and both are nearly scientifically illiterate. Like von Däniken and Velikovsky, Sitchin weaves a compelling and entertaining story out of facts, misrepresentations, fictions, speculations, misquotes, and mistranslations. Each begins with their beliefs about ancient visitors from other worlds and then proceeds to fit facts and fictions to their basic hypotheses. Each is a master at ignoring inconvenient facts, making mysteries where there were none before, and offering their alien hypotheses to solve the mysteries. Their works are very attractive to those who love a good mystery and are ignorant of the nature and limits of scientific knowledge. They are especially attractive to those who are ignorant of biblical and historical scholarship.
Sitchin promotes himself as a Biblical scholar and master of ancient languages, but his real mastery was in making up his own translations of Biblical texts to support his readings of Sumerian and Akkadian writings.
He’s let us know he’s going to twist the translations around to support his thesis. Indeed, a reader of Sitchin’s book would do well to keep a couple of Bibles handy to check up on the verses Sitchin quotes. Many of them will sound odd or unrecognizable because they have been translated from their familiar form (this is made harder by the fact that Sitchin rarely tells you just which verse he is quoting). This would be much more acceptable if he wasn’t using the twisted translations to support the thesis that led to the twisted translations (Hafernik).
Most of Sitchin’s sources are obsolete. He has received nothing but ridicule from scientific archaeologists and scholars familiar with ancient languages. His most charming quality seems to be his vivid imagination and complete disregard for established facts and methods of inquiry, traits that are apparently very attractive to some people.
Sitchin’s ideas have been appropriated by Raël, another wise man, who has started his own religion (Raëlian Religion) around the idea that humans are the result of a DNA experiment by ancient visitors from outer space. Raël has even written a channeled book, dictated to him by extraterrestrials. It is called The Final Message. We can only hope it is.
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