THE TWELFTH PLANET
THE SUGGESTION that Earth was visited by intelligent beings from
elsewhere postulates the existence of another celestial body upon
which intelligent beings established a civilization more advanced
Speculation regarding the possibility of Earth visitation by
intelligent beings from elsewhere has centered, in the past, on such
planets as Mars or Venus as their place of origin. However, now that
it is virtually certain that these two planetary neighbors of Earth
have neither intelligent life nor an advanced civilization upon
them, those who believe in such Earth visitations look to other
galaxies and to distant stars as the home of such extraterrestrial
The advantage of such suggestions is that while they cannot be
proved, they cannot be disproved, either. The disadvantage is that
these suggested "homes" are fantastically distant from Earth,
requiring years upon years of travel at the speed of light. The
authors of such suggestions therefore postulate one-way trips to
Earth: a team of astronauts on a no-return mission, or perhaps on a
spaceship lost and out of control, crash-landing upon Earth.
This is definitely not the Sumerian notion of the Heavenly Abode of
The Sumerians accepted the existence of such a "Heavenly Abode," a
"pure place," a "primeval abode."
While Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag
went to Earth and made their home upon it, their father Anu remained
in the Heavenly Abode as its ruler. Not only occasional references
in various texts but also detailed "god lists" actually named
twenty-one divine couples of the dynasty that preceded Anu on the
throne of the "pure place."
Anu himself reigned over a court of great splendor and extent. As
Gilgamesh reported (and the Book of Ezekiel confirmed), it was a
place with an artificial garden sculpted wholly of semiprecious
stones. There Anu resided with his official consort Antu and six
concubines, eighty offspring (of which fourteen were by Antu), one
Prime Minister, three Commanders in charge of the Mil's (rocket
ships), two Commanders of the Weapons, two Great Masters of Written
Knowledge, one Minister of the Purse, two Chief Justices, two "who
with sound impress," and two Chief Scribes, with five Assistant
Mesopotamian texts refer frequently to the magnificence of the abode
of Anu and the gods and weapons that guarded its gateway.
of Adapa reports that the god Enki, having provided Adapa with a
Made him take the road to Heaven,
and to Heaven he went up.
When he had ascended to Heaven,
he approached the Gate of Anu.
Tammuz and Gizzida were standing guard
at the Gate of Anu.
Guarded by the divine weapons SHAR.UR ("royal hunter") and SHAR.GAZ
("royal killer"), the throne room of Anu was the place of the
Assembly of the Gods.
On such occasions a strict protocol governed
the order of entering and seating:
Enlil enters the throne room of Ami,
seats himself at the place of the right tiara,
on the right of Anu.
Ea enters [the throne room of Anu],
seats himself at the place of the sacred tiara,
on the left of Anu.
The Gods of Heaven and Earth of the ancient Near East not only
originated in the heavens but could also return to the Heavenly
Anu occasionally came down to Earth on state visits; Ishtar
went up to Anu at least twice. Enlil's center in Nippur was equipped
as a "bond heaven-earth." Shamash was in charge of the Eagles and
the launching place of the rocket ships. Gilgamesh went up to the
Place of Eternity and returned to Uruk; Adapa, too, made the trip
and came back to tell about it; so did the biblical king of Tyre.
A number of Mesopotamian texts deal with the Apkallu, an Akkadian
term stemming from the Sumerian AB.GAL ("great one who leads," or
"master who points the way"). A study by Gustav Guterbock (Die
Historische Tradition und Ihre Literarische Gestaltung bei
Babylonier and Hethiten) ascertained that these were the "bird-men"
depicted as the "Eagles" that we have already shown.
The texts that
spoke of their feats said of one that he "brought down Inanna from
Heaven, to the E-Anna temple made her descend." This and other
references indicate that these Apkallu were the pilots of the
spaceships of the Nefilim.
Two-way travel was not only possible but actually contemplated to
begin with, for we are told that, having decided to establish in
Sumer the Gateway of the Gods (Babili), the leader of the gods
When to the Primeval Source
for assembly you shall ascend,
There shall be a restplace for the night
to receive you all.
When from the Heavens
for assembly you shall descend,
There shall be a restplace for the night
to receive you all.
Realizing that such two-way travel between Earth and the Heavenly
Abode was both contemplated and practiced, the people of Sumer did
not exile their gods to distant galaxies.
The Abode of the Gods,
their legacy discloses, was within our own solar system.
We have seen Shamash in his official uniform as Commander of the
Eagles. On each of his wrists he wears a watchlike object held in
place by metal clasps. Other depictions of the Eagles reveal that
all the important ones wore such objects. Whether they were merely
decorative or served a useful purpose, we do not know.
scholars are agreed that the objects represented rosettes - a
circular cluster of "petals" radiating from a central point.
The rosette was the most common decorative temple symbol throughout
the ancient lands, prevalent in Mesopotamia, western Asia, Anatolia,
Cyprus, Crete^ and Greece.
It is the accepted view that the rosette
as a temple symbol was an outgrowth or stylization of a celestial
phenomenon - a sun encircled by its satellites. That the ancient
astronauts wore this symbol on their wrists adds credence to this
An Assyrian depiction of the Gateway of Ami in the Heavenly Abode
confirms ancient familiarity with a celestial system such as our Sun
and its planets.
The gateway is flanked by two Eagles - indicating
that their services are needed to reach the Heavenly Abode. The
Winged Globe - the supreme divine emblem - marks the gateway. It is
flanked by the celestial symbols of the number seven and the
crescent, representing (we believe) Ami flanked by Enlil and Enki.
Where are the celestial bodies represented by these symbols? Where
is the Heavenly Abode?
The ancient artist answers with yet another
depiction, that of a large celestial deity extending its rays to
eleven smaller celestial bodies encircling it. It is a
representation of a Sun, orbited by eleven planets.
That this was not an isolated representation can be shown by
reproducing other depictions on cylinder seals, like this one from
the Berlin Museum of the Ancient Near East.
When the central god or celestial body in the Berlin seal is
enlarged, we can see that it depicts a large, ray-emitting star
surrounded by eleven heavenly bodies-planets.
These, in turn, rest
on a chain of twenty-four smaller globes. Is it only a coincidence
that the number of all the "moons," or satellites, of the planets in
our solar system (astronomers exclude those of ten miles 01 less in
diameter) is also exactly twenty-four?
Now there is, of course, a catch to claiming that these depictions -
of a Sun and eleven planets - represent our solar system, for our
scholars tell us that the planetary system of which Earth is a part
comprises the Sun, Earth and Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
This adds up to the Sun and only
ten planets (when the Moon is counted as one).
But that is not what the Sumerians said. They claimed that our
system was made up of the Sun and eleven planets (counting the
Moon), and held steadfastly to the opinion that, in addition to the
planets known to us today, there has been a twelfth member of the
solar system - the home planet of the Nefilim.
We shall call it the Twelfth Planet.
Before we check the accuracy of the Sumerian information, let us
review the history of our own knowledge of Earth and the heavens
We know today that beyond the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn - at
distances insignificant in terms of the universe, but immense in
human terms - two more major planets (Uranus and Neptune) and a
third, small one (Pluto) belong to our solar system. But such
knowledge is quite recent. Uranus was discovered, through the use of
improved telescopes, in 1781.
After observing it for some fifty
years, some astronomers reached the conclusion that its orbit
revealed the influence of yet another planet. Guided by such
mathematical calculations, the missing planet - named Neptune - was
pinpointed by astronomers in 1846.
Then, by the end of the
nineteenth century, it became evident that Neptune itself was being
subjected to unknown gravitational pull. Was there yet another
planet in our solar system? The puzzle was solved in 1930 with the
observation and location of Pluto.
Up to 1780, then, and for centuries before that, people believed
there were seven members of our solar system: Sun, Moon, Mercury,
Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Earth was not counted as a planet
because it was believed that these other celestial bodies circled
Earth - the most important celestial body created by God, with God's
most important creation, Man, upon it.
Our textbooks generally credit Nicolaus Copernicus with the
discovery that Earth is only one of several planets in a
heliocentric (Sun-centered) system. Fearing the wrath of the
Christian church for challenging Earth's central position,
Copernicus published his study (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium)
only when on his deathbed, in 1543.
Spurred to reexamine centuries-old astronomical concepts primarily
by the navigational needs of the Age of Discovery, and by the
findings by Columbus (1492), Magellan (1520), and others that Earth
was not flat but spherical, Copernicus depended on mathematical
calculations and searched for the answers in ancient writings.
of the few churchmen, who supported Copernicus, Cardinal Schonberg,
wrote to him in 1536:
"I have learned that you know not only the
groundwork of the ancient mathematical doctrines, but that you have
created a new theory... according to which the Earth is in motion
and it is the Sun which occupies the fundamental and therefore the
The concepts then held were based on Greek and Roman traditions that
Earth, which was flat, was "vaulted over" by the distant heavens, in
which the stars were fixed.
Against the star-studded heavens the
planets (from the Greek word for "wanderer") moved around Earth.
There were thus seven celestial bodies, from which the seven days of
the week and their names originated: the Sun (Sunday), Moon
(Monday), Mars (mardi), Mercury (mercredi), Jupiter (jeudi), Venus (vendredi),
These astronomical notions stemmed from the works and codifications
of Ptolemy, an astronomer in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, in the
second century A.D.
His definite findings were that the Sun, Moon,
and five planets moved in circles around Earth. Ptolemaic astronomy
predominated for more than 1,300 years - until Copernicus put the
Sun in the center.
While some have called Copernicus the "Father of Modern Astronomy,"
others view him more as a researcher and reconstructor of earlier
ideas. The fact is that he pored over the writings of Greek
astronomers who preceded Ptolemy, such as Hipparchus and Aristarchus
The latter suggested in the third century B.C. that the
motions of the heavenly bodies could better be explained if the Sun
- and not Earth - were assumed to be in the center. In fact, 2,000
years before Copernicus, Greek astronomers listed the planets in
their correct order from the Sun, acknowledging thereby that the
Sun, not Earth, was the solar system's focal point.
The heliocentric concept was only rediscovered by Copernicus; and
the interesting fact is that astronomers knew more in 500 B.C. than
in A.D. 500 and 1500.
Indeed, scholars are now hard put to explain why first the later
Greeks and then the Romans assumed that Earth was flat, rising above
a layer of murky waters below which there lay Hades or "Hell," when
some of the evidence left by Greek astronomers from earlier times
indicates that they knew otherwise.
Hipparchus, who lived in Asia Minor in the second century B.C.,
discussed "the displacement of the sostitial and equinoctial sign,"
the phenomenon now called precession of the equinoxes. But the
phenomenon can be explained only in terms of a "spherical
astronomy," whereby Earth is surrounded by the other celestial
bodies as a sphere within a spherical universe.
Did Hipparchus, then, know that Earth was a globe, and did he make
his calculations in terms of a spherical astronomy? Equally
important is yet another question. The phenomenon of the precession
could be observed by
relating the arrival of spring to the Sun's position (as seen from
Earth) in a given zodiacal constellation. But the shift from one
zodiacal house to another requires 2,160 years.
could not have lived long enough to make that astronomical
observation. Where, then, did he obtain his information?
Eudoxus of Cnidus, another Greek mathematician and astronomer who
lived in Asia Minor two centuries before Hipparchus, designed a
celestial sphere, a copy of which was set up in Rome as a statue of
Atlas supporting the world. The designs on the sphere represent the
But if Eudoxus conceived the heavens as a
sphere, where in relation to the heavens was Earth?
Did he think
that the celestial globe rested on a flat Earth Ė a
most awkward arrangement - or did he know of a spherical Earth,
enveloped by a celestial sphere?
The works of Eudoxus, lost in their originals, have come down to us
thanks to the poems of Aratus, who in the third century B.C.
"translated" the facts put forth by the astronomer into poetic
language. In this poem (which must have been familiar to St. Paul,
who quoted from it) the constellations are described in great
detail, "drawn all around"; and their grouping and naming is
ascribed to a very remote prior age.
"Some men of yore a
nomenclature thought of and devised, and appropriate forms found."
Who were the "men of yore" to whom Eudoxus attributed the
designation of the constellations? Based on certain clues in the
poem, modern astronomers believe that the Greek verses describe the
heavens as they were observed in Mesopotamia circa 2200 B.C.
The fact that both Hipparchus and Eudoxus lived in Asia Minor raises
the probability that they drew their knowledge from Hittite sources.
Perhaps they even visited the Hittite capital and viewed the divine
procession carved on the rocks there; for among the marching gods
two bull-men hold up a globe - a sight that might well have inspired Eudoxus to sculpt Atlas and the celestial sphere.
Were the earlier Greek astronomers, living in Asia Minor, better
informed than their successors because they could draw on
Hipparchus, in fact, confirmed in his writings that his studies were
based on knowledge accumulated and verified over many millennia. He
named as his mentors "Babylonian astronomers of Erech, Borsippa, and
Geminus of Rhodes named the "Chaldeans" (the ancient
Babylonians) as the discoverers of the exact motions of the Moon.
The historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century B.C.,
confirmed the exactness of Mesopotamian astronomy; he stated that,
"the Chaldeans named the planets... in the center of their system
was the Sun, the greatest light, of which the planets were
'offspring,' reflecting the Sun's position and shine."
The acknowledged source of Greek astronomical knowledge was, then,
Chaldea; invariably, those earlier Chaldeans possessed greater and
more accurate knowledge than the peoples that followed them.
generations, throughout the ancient world, the name "Chaldean" was
synonymous with "stargazers," astronomers.
Abraham, who came out of "Ur of the Chaldeans," was told by God to
gaze at the stars when the .future Hebrew generations were
discussed. Indeed, the Old Testament was replete with astronomical
information. Joseph compared himself and his brothers to twelve
celestial bodies, and the patriarch Jacob blessed his twelve
descendants by associating them with the twelve constellations of
The Psalms and the Book of Job refer repeatedly to
celestial phenomena, the zodiacal constellations, and other star
groups (such as the Pleiades). Knowledge of the zodiac, the
scientific division of the heavens, and other astronomical
information was thus prevalent in the ancient Near East well before
the days of ancient Greece.
The scope of Mesopotamian astronomy on which the early Greek
astronomers drew must have been vast, for even what archaeologists
have found amounts to an avalanche of texts, inscriptions, seal
impressions, reliefs, drawings, lists of celestial bodies, omens,
calendars, tables of rising and setting times of the Sun and the
planets, forecasts of eclipses.
Many such later texts were, to be sure, more astrological than
astronomical in nature. The heavens and the movements of the
heavenly bodies appeared to be a prime preoccupation of mighty
kings, temple priests, and the people of the land in general; the
purpose of the stargazing seemed to be to find in the heavens an
answer to the course of affairs on Earth: war, peace, abundance,
Compiling and analyzing hundreds of texts from the first millennium
B.C., R. C. Thompson (The Reports of the
Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon) was able to show
that these stargazers were concerned with the fortunes of the land,
its people, and its ruler from a national point of view, and not
with individual fortunes (as present-day "horoscopic" astrology is):
When the Moon in its calculated time is not seen, there will be an
invasion of a mighty city.
When a comet reaches the path of the Sun, field-flow will be
diminished; an uproar will happen twice.
When Jupiter goes with Venus, the prayers of the land will reach the
heart of the gods.
If the Sun stands in the station of the Moon, the king of the land
will be secure on the throne.
Even this astrology required comprehensive and accurate astronomical
knowledge, without which no omens were possible.
possessing such knowledge, distinguished between the "fixed" stars
and the planets that "wandered about" and knew that the Sun and the
Moon were neither fixed stars nor ordinary planets. They were
familiar with comets, meteors, and other celestial phenomena, and
could calculate the relationships between the movements of the Sun,
Moon, and Earth, and predict eclipses.
They followed the motions of
the celestial bodies and related them to Earth's orbit and rotation
through the heliacal system - the system still in use today, which
measures the rising and setting of stars and planets in Earth's
skies relative to the Sun.
To keep track of the movements of the celestial bodies and their
positions in the heavens relative to Earth and to one another, the
Babylonians and Assyrians kept accurate ephemerides. These were
tables that listed and predicted the future positions of the
celestial bodies. Professor George Sarton (Chaldean Astronomy of the
Last Three Centuries B.C.) found that they were computed by two
methods: a later one used in Babylon, and an older one from Uruk.
His unexpected finding was that the older, Uruk method was more
sophisticated and more accurate than the later system. He accounted
for this surprising situation by concluding that the erroneous
astronomical notions of the Greeks and Romans resulted from a shift
to a philosophy that explained the world in geometric terms, while
the astronomer-priests of Chaldea followed the prescribed formulas
and traditions of Sumer.
The unearthing of the Mesopotamian civilizations in the past one
hundred years leaves no doubt that in the field of astronomy, as in
so many others, the roots of our knowledge lie deep in Mesopotamia.
In this field, too, we draw upon and continue the heritage of Sumer.
Sarton's conclusions have been reinforced by very comprehensive
studies by Professor O. Neugebauer (Astronomical Cuneiform Texts),
who was astonished to find that the ephemerides, precise as they
were, were not based on observations by the Babylonian astronomers
who prepared them.
Instead, they were calculated "from some fixed
arithmetical schemes... which were given and were not to be
interfered with" by the astronomers who used them.
Such automatic adherence to "arithmetical schemes" was achieved with
the aid of "procedure texts" that accompanied the ephemerides, which
"gave the rules for computing ephemerides step by step" according to
some "strict mathematical theory."
Neugebauer concluded that the
Babylonian astronomers were ignorant of the theories on which the
ephemerides and their mathematical calculations were based. He also
admitted that "the empirical and theoretical foundation" of these
accurate tables, to a large extent, escapes modern scholars as well.
Yet he is convinced that ancient astronomical theories,
existed, because it is impossible to devise computational schemes of
high complication without a very elaborate plan."
Professor Alfred Jeremias (Handbuch der Altorienta-lischen
Geistkultur) concluded that the Mesopotamian astronomers were
acquainted with the phenomenon of retrograde, the apparent erratic
and snakelike course of the planets as seen from Earth, caused by
the fact that Earth orbits the Sun either faster or slower than the
The significance of such knowledge lies not only in
the fact that retrograde is a phenomenon related to orbits around
the Sun, but also in the fact that very long periods of observation
were required to grasp and track it.
Where were these complicated theories developed, and who made the
observations without which they could not have been developed?
Neugebauer pointed out that,
"in the procedure texts, we meet a great
number of technical terms of wholly unknown reading, if not unknown
Someone, much earlier than the Babylonians, possessed
astronomical and mathematical knowledge far superior to that of
later culture in Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
The Babylonians and Assyrians devoted a substantial part of their
astronomical efforts to keeping an accurate calendar. Like the
Jewish calendar to this very day, it was a solar-lunar calendar,
correlating ("intercalating") the solar year of just over 365 days
with a lunar month of just under 30 days. While a calendar was
important for business and other mundane needs, its accuracy was
required primarily to determine the precise day and moment of the
New Year, and other festivals and worship of the gods.
To measure and correlate the intricate movements of Sun, Earth,
Moon, and planets, the Mesopotamian astronomer-priests relied on a
complex spherical astronomy. Earth was taken to be a sphere with an
equator and poles; the heavens, too, were divided by imaginary
equatorial and polar lines.
The passage of celestial bodies was
related to the ecliptic, the projection of the plane of Earth's
orbit around the Sun upon the celestial sphere; the equinoxes (the
points and the times at which the Sun in its apparent annual
movement north and south crosses the celestial equator); and the
solstices (the time when the Sun during its apparent annual movement
along the ecliptic is at its greatest declination north or south).
All these are astronomical concepts used to this very day.
But the Babylonians and Assyrians did not invent the calendar or the
ingenious methods for its calculation. Their calendars - as well as
our own - originated in Sumer. There the scholars have found a
calendar, in use from the very earliest times, that is the basis for
all later calendars. The principal calendar and model was the
calendar of Nippur, the seat and center of Enlil. Our present-day
one is modeled on that Nippurian calendar.
The Sumerians considered the New Year to begin at the exact moment
when the Sun crossed the spring equinox. Professor Stephen Langdon
(Tablets from the Archives of Drehem) found that records left by
Dungi, a ruler of Ur circa 2400 B.C., show that the Nippurian
calendar selected a certain celestial body by whose setting against
the sunset it was possible to determine the exact moment of the New
This, he concluded, was done "perhaps 2,000 years
before the era of Dungi" - that is, circa 4400 B.C.!
Can it really be that the Sumerians, without actual instruments,
nevertheless had the sophisticated astronomical and mathematical
know-how required by a spherical astronomy and geometry? Indeed they
had, as their language shows.
They had a term - DUB - that meant (in astronomy) the 360-degree
"circumference of the world," in relation to which they spoke of the
curvature or arc of the heavens. For their astronomical and
mathematical calculations they drew the AN.UR - an imagined
"heavenly horizon" against which they could measure the rising and
setting of celestial bodies.
Perpendicular to this horizon they
extended an imagined vertical line, the NU.BU.SAR.DA; with its aid
they obtained the zenith point and called it the AN.PA. They traced
the lines we call meridians, and called them "the graded yokes";
latitude lines were called "middle lines of heaven." The latitude
line marking the summer solstice, for example, was called AN.BIL
("fiery point of the heavens").
The Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite, and other literary masterpieces of
the ancient Near East, being translations or versions of Sumerian
originals, were replete with Sumerian loanwords pertaining to
celestial bodies and phenomena. Babylonian and Assyrian scholars who
drew up star lists or wrote down calculations of planetary movements
often noted the Sumerian originals on the tablets that they were
copying or translating.
The 25,000 texts devoted to astronomy and
astrology said to have been in-cluded in the Nineveh library of
Ashurbanipal frequently bore acknowledgments of Sumerian origins.
A major astronomical series that the Babylonians called "The Day of
the Lord" was declared by its scribes to have been copied from a
Sumerian tablet written in the time of Sargon of Akkad - in the
third millennium B.C.
A tablet dated to the third dynasty of Ur,
also in the third millennium B.C., describes and lists a series of
celestial bodies so clearly that modern scholars had little
difficulty in recognizing the text as a classification of
constellations, among them Ursa Major, Draco, Lyra, Cygnus and
Cepheus, and Triangulum in the northern skies; Orion, Canis Major,
Hydra, Corvus, and Centaurus in the southern skies; and the familiar
zodiacal constellations in the central celestial band.
In ancient Mesopotamia the secrets of celestial knowledge were
guarded, studied, and transmitted by astronomer-priests. It was thus
perhaps fitting that three scholars who are credited with giving
back to us this lost "Chaldean" science were Jesuit priests:
Epping, Johann Strassman, and Franz X. Kugler.
Kugler, in a
masterwork (Stem-kunde und Sterndienst in Babel), analyzed,
deciphered, sorted out, and explained a vast number of texts and
lists. In one instance, by mathematically "turning the skies
backwards," he was able to show that a list of thirty-three
celestial bodies in the Babylonian skies of 1800 B.C. was neatly
arranged according to present-day groupings!
After much work deciding which are true groups and which are merely
subgroups, the world's astronomical community agreed (in 1925) to
divide the heavens as seen from Earth into three regions - northern,
central, and southern - and group the stars therein into
As it turned out, there was nothing new
in this arrangement, for the Sumerians were the first to divide the
heavens into three bands or "ways" - the northern "way" was named
after Enlil, the southern after Ea, and the central band was the
"Way of Ami" - and to assign to them various constellations. The
present-day central band, the band of the twelve constellations of
the zodiac, corresponds exactly to the Way of Anu, in which the
Sumerians grouped the stars into twelve houses.
In antiquity, as today, the phenomenon was related to the concept of
The great circle of Earth around the Sun was divided
into twelve equal parts, of thirty degrees each. The stars seen in
each of these segments, or "houses," were grouped together into a
constellation, each of which was then named according to the shape
the stars of the group seemed to form.
Because the constellations and their subdivisions, and \ even
individual stars within the constellations, have reached Western
civilization with names and descriptions borrowed heavily from Greek
mythology, the Western world tended for nearly two millennia to
credit the Greeks with this achievement. But it is now apparent that
the early Greek astronomers merely adopted into their language and
mythology a ready-made astronomy obtained from the Sumerians.
have already noted how Hipparchus, Eudoxus, and others obtained
Even Thales, the earliest Greek astronomer of
consequence, who is said to have predicted the total solar eclipse
of May 28, 585 B.C., which stopped the war between the Lydians and
the Medians, allowed that the sources of his knowledge were of
pre-Semitic Mesopotamian origins, namely - Sumerian.
We have acquired the name "zodiac" from the Greek zodiakos kyklos
("animal circle") because the layout of the star groups was likened
to the shape of a lion, fishes, and so on.
But those imaginary
shapes and names were actually originated by the Sumerians, who
called the twelve zodiacal constellations UL.HE ("shiny herd"):
1. GU.AN.NA ("heavenly bull"), Taurus.
2. MASH.TAB.BA ("twins"), our Gemini.
3. DUB ("pincers," "tongs"), the Crab or Cancer.
4. UR.GULA ("lion"), which we call Leo.
5. AB.SIN ("her father was Sin"), the Maiden, Virgo.
6. ZI.BA.AN.NA ("heavenly fate"), the scales of Libra.
7. GIR.TAB ("which claws and cuts"), Scorpio.
8. PA.BIL ("defender"), the Archer, Sagittarius.
9. SUHUR.MASH ("goat-fish"), Capricorn.
10. GU ('lord of the waters"), the Water Bearer, Aquarius.
11. SIM.MAH ("fishes"), Pisces.
12. KU.MAL ("field dweller"), the Ram, Aries.
The pictorial representations or signs of the zodiac, like their
names, have remained virtually intact since their introduction in
Until the introduction of the telescope, European astronomers
accepted the Ptolemaic recognition of only nineteen constellations
in the northern skies.
By 1925, when the current classification was
agreed upon, twenty-eight constellations had been recognized in what
the Sumerians called the Way of Enlil. We should no longer be
surprised to find out that, unlike Ptolemy, the earlier Sumerians
recognized, identified, grouped, named, and listed all the
constellations of the northern skies!
Of the celestial bodies in the Way of Enlil, twelve were deemed to
be of Enlil - paralleling the twelve zodiacal celestial bodies in
the Way of Anu. Likewise, in the southern portion of the skies - the
Way of Ea - twelve constellations were listed, not merely as present
in the southern skies, but as of the god Ea. In addition to these
principal constellations of Ea, several others were listed for the
southern skies - though not so many as are recognized today.
The Way of Ea posed serious problems to the Assyriologists who
undertook the immense task of unraveling the ancient astronomical
knowledge not only in terms of modern knowledge but also based on
what the skies should have looked like centuries and millennia ago.
Observing the southern skies from Ur or Babylon, the Mesopotamian
astronomers could see only a little more than halfway into the
southern skies; the rest was already below the horizon. Yet, if
correctly identified, some of the constellations of the Way of Ea
lay well beyond the horizon.
But there was an even greater problem:
If, as the scholars assumed, the Mesopotamians believed (as the
Greeks did in later times) that Earth was a mass of dry land resting
upon the chaotic darkness of a netherworld (the Greek Hades) - a
flat disc over which the heavens arched in a semicircle - then there
should have been no southern skies at all!
Restricted by the assumption that the Mesopotamians were beholden to
a flat-Earth concept, modern scholars could not permit their
conclusions to take them too much below the equatorial line dividing
north and south. The evidence, however, shows that the three
Sumerian "ways" encompassed the complete skies of a global, not
In 1900 T. G. Pinches reported to the Royal Asiatic Society that he
was able to reassemble and reconstruct a complete Mesopotamian
astrolabe (literally, "taker of stars").
He showed it to be a
circular disc, divided like a pie into twelve segments and three
concentric rings, resulting in a field of thirty-six portions. The
whole design had the appearance of a rosette of twelve "leaves,"
each of which had the name of a month written in it.
them I to XII for convenience, starting with Nisannu, the first
month of the Mesopotamian calendar.
Each of the thirty-six portions also contained a name with a small
circle below it, signifying that it was the name of a celestial
body. The names have since been found in many texts and "star lists"
and are undoubtedly the names of constellations, stars, or planets.
Each of the thirty-six segments also had a number written below the
name of the celestial body.
In the innermost ring, the numbers
ranged from 30 to 60; in the central ring, from 60 (written as "1")
to 120 (this "2" in the sexagesimal system meant 2 X 60 = 120); and
in the outermost ring, from 120 to 240. What did these numbers
Writing nearly fifty years after the presentation by Pinches, the
astronomer and Assyriologist O. Neugebauer (A History of Ancient
Astronomy: Problems and Methods) could only say that,
"the whole text
constitutes some kind of schematic celestial map... in each of the
thirty-six fields we find the name of a constellation and simple
numbers whose significance is not yet clear."
A leading expert on
the subject, B. L. Van der Waerden (Babylonian Astronomy: The
Thirty-Six Stars), reflecting on the apparent rise and fall of the
numbers in some rhythm, could only suggest that "the numbers have
something to do with the duration of daylight."
The puzzle can be solved, we believe, only if one discards the
notion that the Mesopotamians believed in a fiat Earth, and
recognizes that their astronomical knowledge was as good as ours -
not because they had better instruments than we do, but because
their source of information was the Nefilim.
We suggest that the enigmatic numbers represent degrees of the
celestial arc, with the North Pole as the starting point, and that
the astrolabe was a planisphere, the representation of a sphere upon
a flat surface.
While the numbers increase and decrease, those in the opposite
segments for the Way of Enlil (such as Nisannu - 50, Tashritu - 40)
add up to" 90; all those for the Way of Anu add up to 180; and all
those for the Way of Ea add up to 360 (such as Nisannu 200, Tashritu
These figures are too familiar to be misunderstood; they
represent segments of a complete spherical circumference: a quarter
of the way (90 degrees), halfway (180 degrees), or full circle (360
The numbers given for the Way of Enlil are so paired as to show that
this Sumerian segment of the northern skies stretched over 60
degrees from the North Pole, bordering on the Way of Anu at 30
degrees above the equator. The Way of Anu was equidistant on both
sides of the equator, reaching to 30 degrees south below the
Then, farther south and farthest away from the North Pole,
lay the Way of Ea - that part of Earth and of the celestial globe
that lay between 30 degrees south and the South Pole.
A. The Way of Anu, the celestial band of the Sun, planets and the
constellations of the Zodiac
B. The way of Enlil, the northern skies
C. The Way of Ea, the southern skies
The numbers in the Way of Ea segments add up to 180 degrees in
Addaru (February - March) and Ululu (August-September). The only
point that is 180 degrees away from the North Pole, whether you go
south on the east or on the west, is the South Pole.
And this can
hold true only if one deals with a sphere.
Precession is the phenomenon caused by the wobble of Earth's north -
south axis, causing the North Pole (the one pointing at the North
Star) and the South Pole to trace a grand circle in the heavens. The
apparent retardation of Earth against the starry constellations
amounts to about fifty seconds of an arc in one year, or one degree
in seventy-two years.
The grand circle - the time it takes the
Earth's North Pole to point again at the same North Star - therefore
lasts 25,920 years (72 X 360), and that is what the astronomers call
the Great Year or the Platonian Year (for apparently Plato, too, was
aware of the phenomenon).
The rising and setting of various stars deemed significant in
antiquity, and the precise determination of the spring equinox
(which ushered in the New Year), were related to the zodiacal house
in which they occurred.
Due to the precession, the spring equinox
and the other celestial phenomena, being retarded from year to year,
were finally retarded once in 2,160 years by a full zodiacal house.
Our astronomers continue to employ a "zero point" ("the first point
of Aries"), which marked the spring equinox circa 900 B.C., but this
point has by now shifted well into the house of Pisces.
2100 the spring equinox will begin to occur in the preceding house
of Aquarius. This is what is meant by those who say that we are
about to enter the Age of Aquarius.
Because the shift from one zodiacal house to another takes more than
two millennia, scholars wondered how and where Hipparchus could have
learned of the precession in the second century B.C.
It is now clear
that his source was Sumerian. Professor Langdon's findings reveal
that the Nippurian calendar, established circa 4400 B.C., in the Age
of Taurus, reflects knowledge of the precession and the shift of
zodiacal houses that took place 2,160 years earlier than that.
Professor Jeremias, who correlated Mesopotamia!! astronomical texts
with Hittite astronomical texts, was also of the opinion that older
astronomical tablets recorded the change from Taurus to Aries; and
he concluded that the Mesopotamian astronomers predicted and
anticipated the shift from Aries to Pisces.
Subscribing to these conclusions, Professor Willy Hartner (The
Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East) suggested
that the Sumerians left behind plentiful pictorial evidence to that
effect. When the spring equinox was in the zodiac of Taurus, the
summer solstice occurred in the zodiac of Leo.
attention to the recurrent motif of a bull-lion "combat" appearing
in Sumerian depictions from earliest times, and suggested that these
motifs represented the key positions of the constellations of Taurus
(Bull) and Leo (Lion) to an observer at 30 degrees north (such as at
Ur) circa 4000 B.C.
Most scholars consider the Sumerian stress of Taurus as their first
constellation as evidence not only of the antiquity of the zodiac -
dating to circa 4000 B.C. - but also as testifying to the time when
Sumerian civilization so suddenly began.
Professor Jeremias (The Old
Testament in the Light of the Ancient East) found evidence showing
that the Sumerian zodiacal-chronological "point zero" stood
precisely between the Bull and the Twins; from this and other data
he concluded that the zodiac was devised in the Age of Gemini (the
Twins) - that is, even before Sumerian civilization began. A
Sumerian tablet in the Berlin Museum (VAT.7847) begins the list of
zodiacal constellations with that of Leo - taking us back to circa
11,000 B.C., when Man had just begun to till the land.
Professor H. V. Hilprecht (The Babylonian Expedition of the
University of Pennsylvania) went even farther.
Studying thousands of
tablets bearing mathematical tabulations, he concluded that,
multiplication and division tables from the temple libraries of
Nippur and Sippar, and from the library of Ashurbanipal [in Nineveh]
are based upon [the number] 12960000."
Analyzing this number and its
significance, he concluded that it could be related only to the
phenomenon of the precession, and that the Sumerians knew of the
Great Year of 25,920 years.
This is indeed fantastic astronomical sophistication at an
Just as it is evident that the Sumerian astronomers possessed
knowledge that they could not possibly have acquired on their own,
so is there evidence to show that a good deal of their knowledge was
of no practical use to them.
This pertains not only to the very sophisticated astronomical
methods that were used - who in ancient Sumer really needed to
establish a celestial equator, for example? - but also to a variety
of elaborate texts that dealt with the measurement of distances
One of these texts, known as AO.6478, lists the twenty-six major
stars visible along the line we now call the Tropic of Cancer, and
gives distances between them as measured in three different ways.
The text first gives the distances between these stars by a unit
called mana shukultu ("measured and weighed"). It is believed that
this was an ingenious device that related the weight of escaping
water to the passage of time. It made possible the determination of
distances between two stars in terms of time.
The second column of distances was in terms of degrees of the arc of
The full day (daylight and nighttime) was divided into
twelve double hours. The arc of the heavens comprised a full circle
of 360 degrees. Hence, one beru or "double hour" represented 30
degrees of the arc of the heavens. By this method, passage of time
on Earth provided a measure of the distances in degrees between the
named celestial bodies.
The third method of measurement was beru ina shame ("length in the
skies"). F. Thureau-Dangin (Distances entre Etoiles Fixes) pointed
out that while the first two methods were relative to other
phenomena, this third method provided absolute measurements. A
"celestial bent," he and others believe, was equivalent to 10,692 of
our present-day meters (11,693 yards).
The "distance in the skies"
between the twenty-six stars was calculated in the text as adding up
to 655,200 "beru drawn in the skies."
The availability of three different methods of measuring distances
between stars conveys the great importance attached to the matter.
Yet, who among the men and women of Sumer needed such knowledge -
and who among them could devise the methods and accurately use them?
The only possible answer is: The Nefilim had the knowledge and the
need for such accurate measurements.
Capable of space travel, arriving on Earth from another planet,
roaming Earth's skies - they were the only ones who could, and did,
possess at the dawn of Mankind's civilization the astronomical
knowledge that required millennia to develop, the sophisticated
methods and mathematics and concepts for an advanced astronomy, and
the need to teach human scribes to copy and record meticulously
table upon table of distances in the heavens, order of stars and
groups of stars, heliacal risings and settings, a complex
Sun-Moon-Earth calendar, and the rest of the remarkable knowledge of
both Heaven and Earth.
Against this background, can it still be assumed that the
Mesopotamia!! astronomers, guided by the Nefilim, were not aware of
the planets beyond Saturn - that they did not know of Uranus,
Neptune, and Pluto?
Was their knowledge of Earth's own family, the
solar system, less complete than that of distant stars, their order,
and their distances?
Astronomical information from ancient times contained in hundreds of
detailed texts lists celestial bodies, neatly arranged by their
celestial order or by the gods or the months or the lands or the
constellations with which they were associated. One such text,
analyzed by Ernst F. Weidner (Handbuch der Babylonischen Astronomie),
has come to be called "The Great Star List."
It listed in five
columns tens of celestial bodies as related to one another, to
months, countries, and deities. Another text listed cor-rectly the
main stars in the zodiacal constellations. A text indexed as
B.M.86378 arranged (in its unbroken part) seventy-one celestial
bodies by their location in the heavens; and so on and on and on.
In efforts to make sense of this legion of texts, and in particular
to identify correctly the planets of our solar system, a succession
of scholars came up with confusing results. As we now know, their
efforts were doomed to failure because they incorrectly assumed that
the Sumerians and their successors were unaware that the solar
system was heliocentric, that Earth was but another planet, and that
there were more planets beyond Saturn.
Ignoring the possibility that some names in the star lists may have
applied to Earth itself, and seeking to apply the great number of
other names and epithets only to the five planets they believed were
known to the Sumerians, scholars reached conflicting conclusions.
Some scholars even suggested that the confusion was not theirs, but
a Chaldean mix-up - for some unknown reason, they said, the
Chaldeans had switched around the names of the five "known" planets.
The Sumerians referred to all celestial bodies (planets, stars, or
constellations) as MUL ("who shine in the heights"). The Akkadian
term kakkab was likewise applied by the Babylonians and Assyrians as
a general term for any celestial body. This practice further
frustrated the scholars seeking to unravel the ancient astronomical
texts. But some mulís that were termed LU.BAD clearly designated
planets of our solar system.
Knowing that the Greek name for the planets was "wanderers," the
scholars have read LU.BAD as "wandering
sheep," deriving from LU ("those which are shepherded") and BAD
("high and afar").
But now that we have shown that the Sumerians
were fully aware of the true nature of the solar system, the other
meanings of the term bad ("the olden," "the foundation," "the one
where death is") assume direct significance.
These are appropriate epithets for the Sun, and it follows that by
lubad the Sumerians meant not mere "wandering sheep" but "sheep"
shepherded by the Sun - the planets of our Sun.
The location and relation of the lubad to each other and to the Sun
were described in many Mesopotamian astronomical texts. There were
references to those planets that are "above" and those that are
"below," and Kugler correctly guessed that the reference point was
But mostly the planets were spoken of in the framework of
astronomical texts dealing with MUL.MUL - a term that kept the
scholars guessing. In the absence of a better solution, most
scholars have agreed that the term mulmul stood for the Pleiades, a
cluster of stars in the zodiacal constellation of Taurus, and the
one through which the axis of the spring equinox passed (as viewed
from Babylon) circa 2200 B.C.
Mesopotamian texts often indicated
that the mulmul included seven LU.MASH (seven "wanderers that are
familiar"), and the scholars assumed that these were the brightest
members of the Pleiades, which can be seen with the naked eye. The
fact that, depending on classification, the group has either six or
nine such bright stars, and not seven, posed a problem; but it was
brushed aside for lack of any better ideas as to the meaning of
Franz Kugler (Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel), reluctantly
accepted the Pleiades as the solution, but expressed his
astonishment when he found it stated unambiguously in Mesopotamian
texts that mulmul included not only "wanderers" (planets) but also
the Sun and the Moon - making it impossible to retain the Pleiades
idea. He also came upon texts that clearly stated that "mulmul
ul-shu 12" ("mulmul is a band of twelve"), of which ten formed a
We suggest that the term mulmul referred to the solar system, using
the repetitive (MUL.MUL) to indicate the group as a whole, as "the
celestial body comprising all celestial bodies."
Charles Virolleaud (L'Astrologie Chaldeenne), transliterated a
Mesopotamian text (K.3558) that describes the members of the mulmul
or kakkabu/kakkabu group. The text's last line is explicit:
The number of its celestial bodies is twelve.
The stations of its
celestial bodies twelve.
The complete months of the Moon is twelve.
The texts leave no doubt: The mulmul - our solar system - was made
up of twelve members.
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise,
for the Greek scholar Diodorus, explaining the three "ways" of the
Chaldeans and the consequent listing of thirty-six celestial bodies,
"of those celestial gods, twelve hold chief authority;
to each of these the Chaldeans assign a month and a sign of the
Ernst Weidner (Der Tierkreis und die Wege am Him-mel) reported that
in addition to the Way of Anu and its twelve zodiac constellations,
some texts also referred to the "way of the Sun," which was also
made up of twelve celestial bodies: the Sun, the Moon, and ten
Line 20 of the so-called TE-tablet stated: "naphar 12 shere-mesh
ha.la sha kakkab.lu sha Sin u Shamash ina libbi ittiqu," which
means, "all in all, 12 members where the Moon and Sun belong, where
the planets orbit."
We can now grasp the significance of the number twelve in the
ancient world. The Great Circle of Sumerian gods, and of all
Olympian gods thereafter, comprised exactly twelve; younger gods
could join this circle only if older gods retired. Likewise, a
vacancy had to be filled to retain the divine number twelve. The
principal celestial circle, the way of the Sun with its twelve
members, set the pattern, according to which each other celestial
band was divided into twelve segments or was allocated twelve
principal celestial bodies. Accordingly, there were twelve months in
a year, twelve double-hours in a day.
Each division of Sumer was
assigned twelve celestial bodies as a measure of good luck.
Many studies, such as the one by S. Langdon (Babylonian Menologies
and the Semitic Calendar) show that the division of the year into
twelve months was, from its very beginnings, related to the twelve
Fritz Hommel (Die Astronomie der alien Chaldder) and
others after him have shown that the twelve months were closely
connected with the twelve zodiacs and that both derived from twelve
principal celestial bodies. Charles F. Jean (Lexicologie Sumerienne)
reproduced a Sumerian list of twenty-four celestial bodies that
paired twelve zodiacal constellations with twelve members of our
In a long text, identified by F. Thureau-Dangin (Ritueles Accadiens)
as a temple program for the New Year Festival in Babylon, the
evidence for the consecration of twelve as the central celestial
phenomenon is persuasive. The great temple, the Esagila, had twelve
gates. The powers of all the celestial gods were vested in Marduk by
reciting twelve times the pronouncement "My Lord, is He not my
Lord." The mercy of the god was then invoked twelve times, and that
of his spouse twelve times. The total of twenty-four was then
matched with the twelve zodiacal constellations and twelve members
of the solar system.
A boundary stone carved with the symbols of the celestial bodies by
a king of Susa depicts those twenty-four signs: the familiar twelve
signs of the zodiac, and symbols that stand for the twelve members
of the solar system.
These were the twelve astral gods of
Mesopotamia, as well as of the Hurrian, Hittite, Greek, and all
other ancient pantheons.
Although our natural counting base is the number ten, the number
twelve permeated all matters celestial and divine long after the
Sumerians were gone.
There were twelve Greek Titans, twelve Tribes
of Israel, twelve parts to the magical breastplate of the Israelite
High Priest. The power of this celestial twelve carried over to the
twelve Apostles of Jesus, and even in our decimal system we count
from one to twelve, and only after twelve do we return to "ten and
three" (thirteen), "ten and four," and so on.
Where did this powerful, decisive number twelve stem from? From the
For the solar system - the mulmul - included, in addition to all the
planets known to us, also the planet of Anu, the one whose symbol -
a radiant celestial body - stood in the Sumerian writing for the god
Anu and for "divine."
"The kakkab of the Supreme Scepter is one of
the sheep in mulmul" explained an astronomical text.
And when Marduk
usurped the supremacy and replaced Anu as the god associated with
this planet, the Babylonians said:
"The planet of Marduk within
Teaching humanity the true nature of Earth and the heavens, the
Nefilim informed the ancient astronomer-priests not only of the
planets beyond Saturn but also of the existence of the most
important planet, the one from which they came:
THE TWELFTH PLANET.
Return to Contents