Zecharia Sitchin

Last updated
Zecharia Sitchin
Born(1920-07-11)July 11, 1920
DiedOctober 9, 2010(2010-10-09) (aged 90)
CitizenshipUnited States
Education London School of Economics, University of London
Known for Fringe theories
Website www.sitchin.com

Zecharia Sitchin (July 11, 1920 – October 9, 2010) [1] was an author of books proposing an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts. Sitchin attributed the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Anunnaki , which he stated was a race of extraterrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune called Nibiru. He asserted that Sumerian mythology suggests that this hypothetical planet of Nibiru is in an elongated, 3,600-year-long elliptical orbit around the sun. Sitchin's books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages.

Human Species of hominid

Humans are the only extant members of the subtribe Hominina. Together with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, they are part of the family Hominidae. A terrestrial animal, humans are characterized by their erect posture and bipedal locomotion; high manual dexterity and heavy tool use compared to other animals; open-ended and complex language use compared to other animal communications; larger, more complex brains than other animals; and highly advanced and organized societies.

Ancient astronauts Pseudo-scientific hypothesis that posits intelligent extraterrestrial beings have visited Earth

"Ancient astronauts" refers to the pseudoscientific idea that intelligent extraterrestrial beings visited Earth and made contact with humans in antiquity and prehistoric times. Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of modern cultures, technologies, and religions, and even human biology. A common position is that deities from most, if not all, religions are extraterrestrial in origin, and that advanced technologies brought to Earth by ancient astronauts were interpreted as evidence of divine status by early humans.

Sumer Ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia

Sumer is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and one of the first civilizations in the world along with Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers were able to grow an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus of which enabled them to settle in one place. Prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr and date to between roughly c. 3500 and c. 3000 BC.


Sitchin's ideas have been rejected by scientists and academics, who dismiss his work as pseudoscience and pseudohistory. His work has been criticized for flawed methodology and mistranslations of ancient texts as well as for incorrect astronomical and scientific claims. [2]

Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be both scientific and factual, but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseudoscience is often characterized by contradictory, exaggerated or unfalsifiable claims; reliance on confirmation bias rather than rigorous attempts at refutation; lack of openness to evaluation by other experts; and absence of systematic practices when developing theories, and continued adherence long after they have been experimentally discredited. The term pseudoscience is considered pejorative because it suggests something is being presented as science inaccurately or even deceptively. Those described as practicing or advocating pseudoscience often dispute the characterization.

Pseudohistory is a form of pseudoscholarship that attempts to distort or misrepresent the historical record, often using methods resembling those used in legitimate historical research. The related term cryptohistory is applied to a pseudohistory based upon or derived from the superstitions inherent to occultism. Pseudohistory is related to pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology and usage of the terms may occasionally overlap. Although pseudohistory comes in many forms, scholars have identified many features that tend to be common in pseudohistorical works. One such feature is that pseudohistory is nearly always motivated by a contemporary political, religious, or personal agenda. Pseudohistory also frequently presents a big lie or sensational claims about historical facts which would require the radical revision (re-writing) of the historical record.

Early life

Sitchin was born in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR and raised in Mandatory Palestine. He received a degree in economics from the University of London, and was an editor and journalist in Mandatory Palestine (which in 1948 became the modern state of Israel), before moving to New York in 1952. While working as an executive for a shipping company, he taught himself Sumerian cuneiform and visited several archaeological sites. [3] [4]

Baku Place in Azerbaijan

Baku is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. Baku is located 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level, which makes it the lowest lying national capital in the world and also the largest city in the world located below sea level. Baku lies on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, alongside the Bay of Baku. At the beginning of 2009, Baku's urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in Baku's metropolitan area. Baku is the sole metropolis in Azerbaijan.

Mandatory Palestine A former geopolitical entity in Palestine occupied from the Ottoman Empire in WW1.

Mandatory Palestine was a geopolitical entity established between 1920 and 1923 in the Middle East roughly corresponding to the region of Palestine, as part of the Partition of the Ottoman Empire under the terms of the "Mandate for Palestine".

University of London federal public university in London, United Kingdom

The University of London is a federal research university located in London, England. As of October 2018, the university contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.

Ideas and works

Similar to earlier authors such as Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Däniken, Sitchin advocated hypotheses in which extraterrestrial events supposedly played a significant role in ancient human history.

Immanuel Velikovsky Russian psychiatrist

Immanuel Velikovsky was a Russian independent scholar who wrote a number of books reinterpreting the events of ancient history, in particular the US bestseller Worlds in Collision published in 1950. Earlier, he had played a role in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, and was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Velikovsky's work is frequently cited as a canonical example of pseudoscience and has been used as an example of the demarcation problem.

Erich von Däniken Swiss writer

Erich Anton Paul von Däniken is a Swiss author of several books which make claims about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture, including the best-selling Chariots of the Gods?, published in 1968. Von Däniken is one of the main figures responsible for popularizing the "paleo-contact" and ancient astronauts hypotheses.

According to Sitchin's interpretation of Mesopotamian iconography and symbolism, outlined in his 1976 book The 12th Planet and its sequels, there is an undiscovered planet beyond Neptune that follows a long, elliptical orbit, reaching the inner solar system roughly every 3,600 years. This planet is called Nibiru (although Jupiter was the planet associated with the god Marduk in Babylonian cosmology). [5] According to Sitchin, Nibiru (whose name was replaced with MARDUK in original legends by the Babylonian ruler of the same name in an attempt to co-opt the creation for himself, leading to some confusion among readers) collided catastrophically with Tiamat (a goddess in the Babylonian creation myth the Enûma Eliš ), which he considers to be another planet once located between Mars and Jupiter. This collision supposedly formed the planet Earth, the asteroid belt, and the comets. Sitchin states that when struck by one of planet Nibiru's moons, Tiamat split in two, and then on a second pass Nibiru itself struck the broken fragments and one half of Tiamat became the asteroid belt. The second half, struck again by one of Nibiru's moons, was pushed into a new orbit and became today's planet Earth.

Planets beyond Neptune Any Solar System planet that might exist beyond Neptune

Following the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846, there was considerable speculation that another planet might exist beyond its orbit. The search began in the mid-19th century and continued at the start of the 20th with Percival Lowell's quest for Planet X. Lowell proposed the Planet X hypothesis to explain apparent discrepancies in the orbits of the giant planets, particularly Uranus and Neptune, speculating that the gravity of a large unseen ninth planet could have perturbed Uranus enough to account for the irregularities.

Jupiter Fifth planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter has been known to astronomers since antiquity. It is named after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can be bright enough for its reflected light to cast shadows, and is on average the third-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.

Marduk Babylonian god

Marduk was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi, he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.

According to Sitchin, Nibiru (called "the twelfth planet" because, Sitchin claimed, the Sumerians' gods-given conception of the Solar System counted all eight planets, plus Pluto, the Sun and the Moon) was the home of a technologically advanced human-like extraterrestrial race called the Anunnaki in Sumerian myth, who Sitchin states are called the Nephilim in Genesis. He wrote that they evolved after Nibiru entered the solar system, and they first arrived on Earth probably 450,000 years ago, looking for minerals, especially gold, which they found and mined in Africa. Sitchin states that these "gods" were the rank-and-file workers of the colonial expedition to Earth from planet Nibiru.

Extraterrestrial life Life occurring outside of Earth which did not originate on Earth

Extraterrestrial life refers to life occurring outside of Earth which did not originate on Earth. Such hypothetical life might range from simple prokaryotes to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity. The Drake equation speculates about the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The science of extraterrestrial life in all its forms is known as exobiology.

Anunnaki group of ancient Mesopotamian deities

The Anunnaki are a group of deities that appear in the mythological traditions of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. Descriptions of how many Anunnaki there were and what role they fulfilled are inconsistent and often contradictory. In the earliest Sumerian writings about them, which come from the Post-Akkadian period, the Anunnaki are the most powerful deities in the pantheon, descendants of An and Ki, the god of the heavens and the goddess of earth, and their primary function is to decree the fates of humanity.

Nephilim Biblical offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men"

The Nephilim were the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" before the Deluge, according to Genesis 6:1-4.

According to Sitchin, Enki (the Sumerian god of water and human culture) suggested that to relieve the Anunnaki, who had mutinied over their dissatisfaction with their working conditions, that primitive workers ( Homo sapiens ) be created by genetic engineering as slaves to replace them in the gold mines by crossing extraterrestrial genes with those of Homo erectus . [6] [7] According to Sitchin, ancient inscriptions report that the human civilization in Sumer, Mesopotamia, was set up under the guidance of these "gods", and human kingship was inaugurated to provide intermediaries between mankind and the Anunnaki (creating the "divine right of kings" doctrine). Sitchin believes that fallout from nuclear weapons, used during a war between factions of the extraterrestrials, is the "evil wind" described in the Lament for Ur that destroyed Ur around 2000 BC. Sitchin states the exact year is 2024 BC. [8] Sitchin says that his research coincides with many biblical texts, and that biblical texts come originally from Sumerian writings.


Theatrical performance of ENKI by Lorin Morgan-Richards based on the writings of Zecharia Sitchin. Still photo from Cleveland Premiere of 'ENKI' directed by Lorin Morgan-Richards, 1999.jpg
Theatrical performance of ENKI by Lorin Morgan-Richards based on the writings of Zecharia Sitchin.

Since the release of his first book The 12th Planet in 1976, Sitchin has written seven other books as part of his Earth Chronicles series, as well as six other companion books. Sitchin's books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been published in more than 25 languages. [9] New York Times reporter Corey Kilgannon has noted that despite academic dismissal of his work, Sitchin has "a devoted following of readers". [3]

Critic Michael S. Heiser has called Sitchin "arguably the most important proponent of the ancient astronaut hypothesis over the last several decades". [10] Sitchin was a frequent guest on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, which in 2010 presented Sitchin with a lifetime achievement award. [11] Gods of the New Millennium author Alan F. Alford admits he initially became "infatuated" with Sitchin's hypotheses but later became a critic of Sitchin's interpretations of myth. [12]

According to some writers, Sitchin's ideas, along with those of Erich von Däniken may have influenced the beliefs of the religious sect of Raëlism, [13] [14] and writer Mark Pilkington sees the mythology of Japan's Pana Wave religious group as rooted in Sitchin's The 12th Planet and its sequels. [15]

The 1994 movie Stargate , directed by Roland Emmerich, and the 2009 video game The Conduit drew some conceptual inspiration from Sitchin's ideas, [16] [17] while screenwriter Roberto Orci says the villains of the film Cowboys & Aliens were inspired by Sitchin's conceptualization of the Anunnaki as gold-mining aliens. [18]

In 2000, Lorin Morgan-Richards' theatrical performance of ENKI, based on the writings of Zecharia Sitchin, premiered in Cleveland, Ohio under the choreography of Michael Medcalf. [19]

In 2016, Kazem Finjan, the Iraqi Minister of Transport, claimed at a press conference that Sumerians had built and used an airport in the Dhi Qar Governorate to launch spaceships from 5000 years ago. He cited the work of Sitchin and others to support his assertion. [20]


Criticism of Sitchin's work falls primarily into three categories: translations and interpretations of ancient texts, astronomical and scientific observations, and literalism of myth.

Translations and interpretations

When Sitchin wrote his books, only specialists could read the Sumerian language. However, sources such as the 2006 book Sumerian Lexicon [21] have made the language more accessible to non-experts.

American Christian and biblical scholar Michael S. Heiser states he has found many inaccuracies in Sitchin's translations and challenges interested parties to use this book to check their validity. [15] [22] Prof. Ronald H. Fritze, [23] author of the book Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science and Pseudo-religions, [23] mentions the example of Sitchin's claim that the Sumerian sign DIĜIR means "pure ones of the blazing rockets", adding that "Sitchin's assignment of meanings to ancient words is tendentious and frequently strained." [24] Fritze also commented on Sitchin's methodology, writing that "When critics have checked Sitchin's references, they have found that he frequently quotes out of context or truncates his quotes in a way that distorts evidence in order to prove his contentions. Evidence is presented selectively and contradictory evidence is ignored." [24]

Sitchin bases his arguments on his personal interpretations of pre-Nubian and Sumerian texts, and the seal VA 243. Sitchin wrote that these ancient civilizations knew of a twelfth planet, when in fact they only knew five. [25] Hundreds of Sumerian astronomical seals and calendars have been decoded and recorded, and the total count of planets on each seal has been five. Seal VA 243 has 12 dots that Sitchin identifies as planets. When translated, seal VA 243 reads "You're his Servant" which is now thought to be a message from a nobleman to a servant. According to Heiser, the so-called sun on Seal VA 243 is not the Sumerian symbol for the sun but is a star, and the dots are also stars. [25] [26] The symbol on seal VA 243 has no resemblance to the hundreds of documented Sumerian sun symbols.

In a 1979 review of The Twelfth Planet, Roger W. Wescott, [27] Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, noted Sitchin's amateurishness with respect to the primacy of the Sumerian language:

Sitchin's linguistics seems at least as amateurish as his anthropology, biology, and astronomy. On p. 370, for example, he maintains that "all the ancient languages ... including early Chinese ... stemmed from one primeval source -- Sumerian". Sumerian, of course, is the virtual archetype of what linguistic taxonomists call a language-isolate, meaning a language that does not fall into any of the well-known language-families or exhibit clear cognation with any known language. Even if Sitchin is referring to written rather than to spoken language, it is unlikely that his contention can be persuasively defended, since Sumerian ideograms were preceded by the Azilian and Tartarian signaries of Europe as well as by a variety of script-like notational systems between the Nile and Indus rivers. [28]

Astronomical and scientific observations

Sitchin's "planetary collision" hypothesis does superficially resemble one suggested by modern astronomers—the giant impact hypothesis of the Moon's formation about 4.5 billion years ago by a body impacting with the newly formed Earth. However, Sitchin's proposed series of rogue planetary collisions differ in both details and timing. As with Immanuel Velikovsky's earlier Worlds in Collision thesis, Sitchin states that he has found evidence of ancient human knowledge of rogue celestial motions in a variety of mythological accounts. In Velikovsky's case, these interplanetary collisions were supposed to have taken place within the span of human existence, whereas for Sitchin these occurred during the early stages of planetary formation, but entered the mythological account passed down via the alien race which purportedly evolved on Nibiru after these encounters.

According to former Immanuel Velikovsky assistant turned prolific critic, C. Leroy Ellenberger, [29] "[Sitchin states that] from an equal start, the Nephilim evolved on Nibiru 45 million years ahead of comparable development on Earth with its decidedly more favorable environment. Such an outcome is unlikely, to say the least, since Nibiru would spend over 99% of its time beyond Pluto. Sitchin's explanation that heat from radioactive decay and a thick atmosphere keep Nibiru warm is absurd and does not address the problem of darkness in deep space. Also unexplained is how the Nephilim, who evolved long after Nibiru arrived, knew what happened when Nibiru first entered the solar system." [30]

The scenario outlined by Sitchin, with Nibiru returning to the inner solar system regularly every 3,600 years,

... implies an orbit with a semi-major axis of 235 astronomical units, extending from the asteroid belt to twelve times farther beyond the sun than Pluto. Elementary perturbation theory indicates that, under the most favorable circumstances of avoiding close encounters with other planets, no body with such an eccentric orbit would keep the same period for two consecutive passages. Within twelve orbits the object would be either ejected or converted to a short period object. Thus, the failed search for a trans-Plutonian planet by T.C. Van Flandern, of the U.S. Naval Observatory, which Sitchin uses to bolster his thesis, is no support at all. [30]

Sitchin in "the case of Adam's alien genes" [31] states that 223 genes found by the Human Genome Sequencing Consortium are without the required predecessors on the genomic evolutionary tree. Later researchers have argued that the conclusion from the Human Genome Sequencing Consortium cannot be drawn due to a lack of a comprehensive gene database for comparison. An analysis by Salzberg identified 40 potential genes laterally transferred into the genome from prokaryotic organisms. Salzberg also argues that gene loss combined with sample size effects and evolutionary rate variation provide an alternative, more biologically plausible explanation. [32]

Literalism of myth

Peter James, co-author of the controversial book Centuries of Darkness, [33] has criticized Sitchin both for ignoring the world outside Mesopotamia and more specifically for misunderstanding Babylonian literature:

He uses the Epic of Creation Enuma Elish as the foundation for his cosmogony, identifying the young god Marduk, who overthrows the older regime of gods and creates the Earth, as the unknown "Twelfth Planet". In order to do this he interprets the Babylonian theogony as a factual account of the birth of the other "eleven" planets. The Babylonian names for the planets are established beyond a shadow of a doubt—Ishtar was the deity of Venus, Nergal of Mars, and Marduk of Jupiter—and confirmed by hundreds of astronomical/astrological tables and treatises on clay tablets and papyri from the Hellenistic period. Sitchin merrily ignores all this and assigns unwarranted planetary identities to the gods mentioned in the theogony. For example, Apsu, attested as god of the primeval waters, becomes, of all things, the Sun! Ea, as it suits Sitchin, is sometimes planet Neptune and sometimes a spaceman. And the identity of Ishtar as the planet Venus, a central feature of Mesopotamian religion, is nowhere mentioned in the book—instead Sitchin arbitrarily assigns to Venus another deity from Enuma Elish, and reserves Ishtar for a role as a female astronaut. [34]

William Irwin Thompson comments on what he calls Sitchin's 'literalism':

What Sitchin sees is what he needs for his hypothesis. So figure 15 on page 40 is radiation therapy, and figure 71 on page 136 is a god inside a rocket-shaped chamber. If these are gods, why are they stuck with our cheap B movie technology of rockets, microphones, space-suits, and radiation therapy? If they are gods, then why can't they have some really divine technology such as intradimensional worm-hole travel, antigravity, starlight propulsion, or black hole bounce rematerializations? Sitchin has constructed what appears to be a convincing argument, but when he gets close to single images on ancient tablets, he falls back into the literalism of "Here is an image of the gods in rockets." Suddenly, ancient Sumer is made to look like the movie set for Destination Moon . Erich Von Däniken's potboiler Chariots of the Gods? has the same problem. Nazca plains in Peru is turned into a World War II landing strip. The gods can cross galactic distances, but by the time they get to Peru, their spaceships are imagined as World War II prop jobs that need an enormous landing strip. This literalization of the imagination doesn't make any sense, but every time it doesn't, you hear Sitchin say "There can be no doubt, but ..." [35]


Earth Chronicles volumes

  1. The 12th Planet, 1976, Stein and Day, ISBN   0-8128-1939-X
  2. The Stairway to Heaven, 1980, St. Martin's Press, ISBN   0-312-75505-8
  3. The Wars of Gods and Men, 1985, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-89585-4
  4. The Lost Realms, 1990, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-75890-3
  5. When Time Began, 1993, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-77071-7
  6. The Cosmic Code, 1998, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-80157-4
  7. The End of Days: Armageddon and Prophecies of the Return, 2007, William Morrow, ISBN   978-0-06-123823-9

Companion volumes

  1. Genesis Revisited: Is Modern Science Catching Up With Ancient Knowledge?, 1990, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-76159-9
  2. Divine Encounters: A Guide to Visions, Angels and Other Emissaries, 1995, Avon Books, ISBN   0-380-78076-3
  3. The Earth Chronicles Handbook, 2009, Bear & Company, ISBN   978-1-59143-101-5
  4. There Were Giants Upon the Earth: Gods, Demigods, and Human Ancestry: The Evidence of Alien DNA, 2010, Bear & Company, ISBN   978-1-59143-121-3

Earth Chronicles expeditions

  1. The Earth Chronicles Expeditions, 2004, Bear & Company, ISBN   978-1-59143-076-6
  2. Journeys to the Mythical Past, 2007, Bear and Company, ISBN   978-1-59143-080-3




See also

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  2. Carroll, Robert T (1994–2009). "Zecharia Sitchin and The Earth Chronicles". The Skeptic's Dictionary. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  3. 1 2 Kilgannon, Corey (January 8, 2010). "Origin of the Species, From an Alien View". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 October 2010. Mr. Sitchin was called silly before — by scientists, historians and archaeologists who dismiss his hypotheses as pseudoscience and fault their underpinnings: his translations of ancient texts and his understanding of physics.
  4. Phil Plait (2003). "X DOESN'T MARK THE SPOT IS THERE A PLANET X THAT WILL CAUSE GLOBAL CATASTROPHE NEXT MAY?". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-01-10.
  5. Jastrow, Jr., Morris (1911). Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, G.P. Putnam's Sons: New York and London. pp. 217-219.
  6. Sitchin, Zecharia (2007). The Wars of Gods and Men: Book III of the Earth Chronicles. Harper. pp. 104–105. ISBN   978-0-06-137927-7.
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