On Aug 15, 1995 ZetaTalk stated that the Dogon Tribe in Africa had encountered and learned astronomy from the giant
hominoids of the 12th Planet in the past. On Nov 15, 1999 this history was posted on the web, through Skeptics persist.
Did the Dogon tribe of Mali learn astronomy from Extraterrestrials?
The year was 1947. The French anthropologist Marcel Griaule had been studying African culture for 19 years, and had been living among and studying the Dogon tribe of French West Africa for 16 of those years. The Dogon live in a place called Bandiagara, in what is today the nation of Mali, between the fabled city of Timbouctou and the city of Ougadougou. Bandiagara is quite isolated, although Timbouctou was once a mighty trading center on the Trans-Saharan trade routes. By the beginning of the twentieth century, all of this area had become a French possession known as French West Africa.
That year, Griaule was approached by some of the Dogon elders who said that they wished to tell him some of the secret knowledge of their tribe. Griaule had been among them for sixteen years and they had come to accept and respect him. The elders had decided that he could be trusted with their secret knowledge, the knowledge that even most of the Dogon people did not know. This knowledge had been passed down in the oral traditions of the Dogon for centuries. It is common for the peoples of Africa to transmit their tribal lore and their history from generation to generation by this method of oral transmission, as you might recall from Roots.
The Dogon elders proceeded to tell Griaule the story of how the universe was created according to their secret mythology. They told him how the Nommo, creatures that were half-human and half-fish, began civilization on the Earth. Griaule was told of the Sigui ceremony which is held every sixty years and which represents the renewal of the universe. He was shown four hundred-year-old masks that were used in the Sigui rites.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that the elders told Griaule was their cosmology. They told him of their knowledge that the moon is dry and barren, that Saturn - the star of limiting place - has rings around it and that Jupiter - dana tolo - has four large moons. They knew that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy of stars, and that the planets move in elliptical orbits around the Sun.
The Dogon have a special reverence for Sirius. The elders told Griaule that Sirius is not just one star, but three. The one we see, sigi tolo (Sirius A) is just the largest and brightest. It is orbited by a smaller star, po tolo (Sirius B) which is named after a tiny grain that is also called Digitaria. They believe that this tiny star is the heaviest thing in the universe and that it is made of a metal called sagala. This tiny star orbits sigi tolo every fifty years, in an elliptical orbit. The third star in the system is called emme ya, the sun of women. It is four times lighter in weight than po tolo, and it travels in the same direction around sigi tolo, but in a larger orbit. It moves much more quickly through space, so that it takes the same amount of time to complete an orbit around sigi tolo. Emme ya has a satellite or planet of its own, called the Goatherd or the star of women. There are drawings on the four-hundred-year old sigui mask that represent this cosmology.
Griaule's paper on the Dogon, written with his colleague Germaine Dieterlen, was published in 1950. It was called A Sudanese Sirius System. Griaule died an untimely death from a heart attack in Paris in 1956 and the Dogon in far away Mali held a funeral ceremony for him that showed their high esteem for this man. In 1965 a book about the Dogon by Griaule and Dieterlen was published. It was called Le Renard Pale, or The Pale Fox.
Robert Temple and The Sirius Mystery
In 1966, Robert Temple, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the author of several books, happened to read some of the Griaule material on Dogon Cosmology, and in 1968 he obtained an English translation of Le Renard Pale. He became interested in the question of how the isolated Dogon could have known for hundreds of years that Sirius, one of the brightest stars in the sky, has an invisible companion, Sirius B. Sirius B, a type of star called a white dwarf, is so small that it cannot be seen without a telescope. It was completely unknown to astronomers until 1862, when the American astronomer Alvan Clark managed to see it for the first time. Sirius B, like all white dwarf stars, is composed of densely packed matter that, if it is not the heaviest matter in the universe, is very close to it. It was not discovered until around 1926 that white dwarves are so heavy that a cubic meter of one may weigh as much as 20,000 tons. It was also discovered that Sirius B orbits Sirius A in an elliptical orbit that takes 50 years to complete. Sirius B was finally photographed in 1970.
How did the Dogon know about Sirius B, when they had no telescopes? How, for that matter, did they know that Saturn has rings, that the moon is dry and barren, and that Jupiter has four large moons? These four moons of Jupiter are called Galilean, because Galileo was the first to see them when he pointed his telescope at Jupiter. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope. As Temple read Graiule's material on the Dogon, he found that their mythology traced their origins back to the Nommo, the human-fish creatures from their creation myths. Temple related these creatures to Oannes of Sumerian mythology who was also a half-fish, half-human creature who brought civilization to an ancient people. Further, Temple found links with Egyptian and Greek mythology. He wrote a book about his interpretation of the Dogon beliefs, called The Sirius Mystery, which was published in the 1970s. In the book, Temple contends that the Nommo were extraterrestrials who came to Earth from a planet in the Sirius system. They visited the Dogon, the Babylonians, and possibly the Egyptians, and the astronomical knowledge of the Dogon came from this contact.
Finally, in 1995, French astronomers Daniel Benest and J.L. Duvent published a study in Astronomy and Astrophysics that proposed that certain perturbations seemed to exist in the Sirius system that could be explained by the existence of a third star in the system. They proposed that this third member is a small red dwarf star that would be Sirius C. If so, then this would verify yet another part of the Dogon beliefs, the belief in the third Sirian sun called emme ya.