Zecharia Sitchin

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Zecharia Sitchin [1]

Zecharia Sitchin was an author famous for his ideas of ancient astronauts. Born in 1920, Sitchin spent his childhood learning ancient languages and eventually used this information to attempt deciphering the archaic Sumerian clay tablets. These tablets had been analyzed by many scholars before Sitchin and the information that is said to be embedded in them varies from day to day bookkeeping, to offering minute previously unknown details of the lives of ancient Mesopotamians, to geometric calculations to predict the movement of the stars.[2] Sitchin’s own interpretation of the tablets was that the Sumerians knew of an ancient race of aliens dubbed the Anunnaki from the planet Nibiru that landed on Earth before the evolution of Homo sapiens and created the human race as we know it today through genetic engineering. Sitchin claimed the Sumerians were given the technological finesse to know the intricacies of math and science that are present on the tablets by the Anunnaki. Like many ancient astronaut theorists, Sitchin backs up his claims with misinterpretations, pseudo-history, and the belief that there is no way that the people of ancient Sumer were astute enough to have come up with these astronomical calculations on their own. Sitchin continued to believe and spread these claims, despite having no factual or scholarly supported evidence, till he died in 2010.

Personal Life

Zecharia Sitchin was born on July 11, 1920 in Baku, Azerbaijan of the SSR, but was raised in mandatory Palestine, which was located in modern day Israel. He was the son of Isaac and Genia Sitchin. As a child, he was obsessed with the idea of Nephilim, which, according to the bible, are “the sons of deities”. Sitchin received a degree in economic history from the University of London, but moved back to Israel after university to work as an editor and journalist. Throughout his lifetime, Sitchin learned a multitude of ancient languages such as Hebrew, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite, and Canaanite.[3] At the start of his pseudoarchaeological career, armed with this information, he claimed to decipher many ancient texts and tales, as well as being involved in many archaeological finds. He moved to New York City, New York in 1952, working at a shipping company, while simultaneously honing his mastery of ancient Sumerian. He lived in New York City with his wife (died in 2007) and children until he died on October 9, 2010 at 90 years old.


The 12th Planet By Zecharia Sitchin [4]

Sitchin published a total of 14 books in his lifetime, and two books were published after he died in 2012. The first was published in 1976 and last was published in 2015. His last two books were published three and five years after he died. His books list as the following: “The 12th Planet” (1976), “The Stairway to Heaven” (1980), “The Wars of Gods and Men” (1985), “The Lost Realms” (1990), “When Time Began” (1993), “The Cosmic Code” (1998), and “The End of Days” (2007). These conclude a full series under the name of the Earth Chronicles. The next four are companion books and they list as the following: “Genesis Revisited” (1990), “Divine Encounters” (1995), “The Earth Chronicles Handbook” (1995), and “There Were Giants Upon the Earth” (2010). Sitchin published and additional three books that are standalone novels and they list as the following: “The Lost Book of Enki” (2001), “The King Who Refused to Die” (2013), and “The Anunnaki Chronicles” (2015).[5]

Pseudoarchaeological Ideas

Sitchin’s obsession with Nephilim began as a child over a dispute about the word's translation. A teacher of his claimed it simply meant “giant” while Sitchin disagreed as the literal translation was “those who were cast down”.[3] Believing this could be interpreted as those who were cast down to Earth, Sitchin believes that this was what began his fascination and his journey to discovering the secrets of the Sumerian and Akkadian clay tablets. Much of Sitchin's proof comes from perceived connections from Mesopotamia to the bible.

Sitchin’s arguably most influential book was his first book published. It is titled “The 12th Planet”. In this book, Sitchin claims the existence of a “12th planet” in our solar system called Nibiru (or Planet X). The evidence provided for this claim is from the famed Sumerian scribed clay tablets. These tablets are inscribed with cuneiform, an ancient language that prevailed for 3 millenia. According to Sitchin, he alone could read and correctly interpret these tablets. Nibiru is said to only come near Earth every ~3,600 years because of its long elliptical orbit. The inhabitants that Sitchin claimed lived on this planet were dubbed the Anunnaki [6] Sitchin also believed that the Anunnaki were the Nephilim that are referenced in the bible in The Book of Genesis. These technologically advanced, nine feet tall peoples supposedly arrived on Earth 450,000 years ago, landing in the Persian gulf in search of natural resources, specifically gold. In order to mine this gold, the Anunnaki genetically engineered a new species from Anunnaki genes and a native species Homo erectus.[7] Thus Homo sapiens were born.

A considerable explanation for Sitchins ideas are based around the assumption that, not only did the Sumer civilization spring up out of nowhere, but also that the evolution of the modern man (Homo sapiens) was impossible within the span of time that it happened. Sitchin believed that this evolution was out of the ordinary when compared to the slower evolutionary developments that modern humans obtained. Along with these allegations about culture and genetics, Sitchin perceived the transformation from a nomadic hunter-gatherer based living to a sedentary agricultural based one as improbable and without reason.[8]

Mesopotamian Myth and History

According to Mesopatamian mythology, the Anunnaki is the name for the highest gods and goddesses in their pantheon, also sometimes referred to as the Anunna.[9] This pantheon consists of seven most powerful and important deities. They are named An (primordial god of the cosmos), Enlil (god of the winds and the fates), Enki (most likely seen as god of water), Ninhursaĝ (original mother goddess), Nanna (god of the moon), Utu (god of the sun, stands for the light of the sun), and Inana (goddess of love, but fiery, passionate, and sexual love).[10] These names are different according to where exactly in Mesopotamia you are focusing, as northern and southern Mesopotamians may have different names from some of these beings.The divine beings were worshiped in ziggurats, layered pyramids with a flat top.[11] The difference between the various empires in Mesopotamia was where they were located, with Akkad in the north and Sumer in the south. Eventually Akkad conquered southern Sumer and united northern and southern Mesopotamia under one ruler.[12] One of the most important tasks that the Mesopotamians believed Anunna were responsible for was deciding the fates of those who worshipped them.

The famous tablets that Sitchin claimed he alone could read, are a set of clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform. Translations from other scholars pose a very different story than the one Sitchin constructed. According to scholars, the translation is of geometric calculations used to predict the motions of Jupiter, which the Sumerians called Nibiru,[2] the celestial body affiliated with the god Marduk (head of the Mesopotamian pantheon in the first millennium) the patron god of Babylon, the southern capital of Mesopotamia after Sumer. Babylon was the center of Mesopotamian civilization for roughly two millennia.[13]

Rebuttals to Sitchin's Claims

Cylinder Seal VA 243 [14]

Sitchin claims that the Sumerian tablets talk about knowledge of Nibiru, a planet beyond Pluto. This idea is the root of his entire belief system. But according to scholars who are skeptical about Sitchin’s beliefs, his translations are not only incorrect but completely made up.

One argument against Sitchin is the literal translation of the word Nibiru. This term has a variety of meanings, most of which are related to the idea of “crossing” or of being a “crossing point”. More specific translations can be “place of crossing”, “crossing fee”, “ferry, ford”, “ferry boat”, and “act of ferrying”. These translations are mostly referenced in various Sumerian tablets. In addition to these translations, there is a very small number of cases in which this word can be related to an astronomical body. In the astronomical texts that refer to Nibiru in the context of the cosmos, the allusion is to the planet Jupiter, and in one case Mercury. Other than a planet, Nibiru is directly referred to as a star in the text. Another interpretation is from Enuma Elish, also known as Tablet V, where Nibiru is said to be a name of the god Marduk. There is no mention of Nibiru as a planet beyond Pluto anywhere in the Sumerian clay tablets.[15]

According to other scholarly translations, the earliest that the tablets that hold the astronomical translations of Nibiru can be is back to about 1800 B.C. This is significantly later than Sitchin claimed. One of Sitchin’s most prominent assertions is that ancient Sumerians had the knowledge that there were 12 planets in the solar system. Without this “knowledge” Sitchin’s entire argument falls apart. The reasoning for this conclusion is his interpretation of cylinder seal VA 243. A cylinder seal in ancient Mesopomtamia was used to imprint a specific pattern on clay. Sitchin claims that there is a sun symbol with planets surrounding it on this cylinder seal, and that this symbol represented the entire solar system, thus the Sumerians knew about the 12 planets supposedly in the solar system. But with this idea in mind, other scholars compared this “sun” symbol to other symbols that are known to be a representation of the sun and the symbols do not match up. This design is most likely in reference to a constellation that would be visible to the naked eye or in reference to a deity and/or god [16]

Sitchin’s interpretations are not based on fact, but on his own imagination. Whether or not he can actually read the ancient Sumerian on a clay tablet, he has created a story based on a real group of people that will most likely span for centuries to come. Because of Sitchin’s falsities, the history and advancements of the Mesopotamian people will continue to be minimized by people who refuse to believe in archaeological fact.

Impact on Pseudoarchaeology

Zecharia Sitchin is one of the most influential ancient alien theorists in history. He is viewed by many as a visionary, as a man who is not afraid to tell the "truth". His books are still translated globally and they inspired books, podcasts, T.V. shows, and more from believers trying to uncover the truth about ancient aliens. Even after his death, Sitchin’s legacy is still being spread through his books and his believers, his website being updated to this day.[17]

One major impact that Sitchin had on the world was the connection his ideas supposedly had to the impending doomsday scare that happened in 2012. Sitchin was dead by this time, but his ideas inspired a belief that was started in 1995 by conspiracy theorist Nancy Lieder. She believed that the world would end by collision with Planet X in 2003. Lieder believes that she was chosen through an implant in her brain to communicate with an alien race from the Zeta Reticuli star system. Lieders original claim was 2003, but when the world did not end that year, Dec. 21, 2012 was “prophesied” as the next date for Planet X’s collision with Earth. This date was also connected, by Lieder and her followers, to the doomsday prophecy associated with the end of the Mayan calendar. Lieder later confirmed that the Planet X that she and her believers predicted would collide with Earth was in fact Sitchin’s Nibiru.[18] This confirmation only increased the popularity of Sitchin’s works as more and more people began adopting Lieders' prophecy as fact. There were numerous movies made based around 2012 as an apocalyptic year such as “2012: Doomsday” and “2012”. When no collision occurred, Lieder claimed that Sept 20, 2017 was in fact the correct date.[19]

There were various problems with this claim of course, most lying with the fact that there are no facts in Lieder’s statement. For one, Nibiru does not exist. There is no planet beyond Pluto, so there is no possible way that Earth could collide with something that is not there. Two, the Mayan calendar did not signify the end or death on Dec. 21, 2012 and the prophecies that Lieder used to further confirm her theory do not exist, rather the Mayans believed that on Dec. 21, 2012 their old gods would return and the world would be rejuvenated not destroyed.[20]

While Sitchin built his fame on false claims and fantastical ideas, his legacy is expansive and important to many people. Sitchin’s ideas inspired many people to open their minds to the idea of ancient aliens and caused an increasing amount of distrust to scientists and archaeologists. Despite his translations being disproved and his interpretations of the Sumerian clay tablets being discredited, Sitchin’s followers refuse to believe what they perceive are lies from scientists and the governments his followers think they work for.


  1. [1] Zecharia Sitchin Portrait
  2. 2.0 2.1 The World's Oldest Writing, The Archaeological Institute of America, June 2016, Access Date Nov 15, 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 The 12th Planet, Sitchin, Zecharia, Prologue, HarperCollins, 2007
  4. [2] The 12th Planet Cover
  5. Zecharia Sitchin Books in Order, Access Date Nov 16, 2021
  6. Origin of the Species, From an Alien View, The New York Times, Klinganon, Corey, Jan 8, 2010, Access Date Nov 4, 2021
  7. Zecharia Sitchin and Our Alien Anecestors, The Psychology of Extraordinary Beliefs Ohio State University, March 1, 2019, Access Date Nov 4, 2021
  8. The 12th Planet Sitchin, Zecharia, Chapter 1, P. 6-11, HarperCollins, 2007
  9. Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses,Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2016, Nicole Brisch, Access Date Nov , 2021
  10. Seven Gods Who Decree Fate, The Ishtar Gate, Access Date Nov 9, 2021
  11. Anunnaki 101: The Ancient Gods of Sumer, Gaia, Jan 11, 2021, Access Date Nov 9, 2021
  12. The Akkadian Empire, Ducksters, Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Access Date Nov 9, 2021
  13. Ancient Babylon: Center of Mesopotamian Civilization, LiveScience, Owen Jarus, Sept 7, 2017, Access Date Nov 9, 2021
  14. [3], Cylinder Seal VA 243
  15. The Myth of a Sumerian 12th Planet: “Nibiru” According to the Cuneiform Sources, Dr. Michael S. Heiser, Access Date Nov 14, 2021
  16. The Myth of a 12th Planet: A Brief Analysis of Cylinder Seal VA 243, Dr. Michael S. Heiser, Access Date Nov 14, 2021
  17. The Official Website of Zecharia Sitchin, Access Date Nov 16, 2021
  18. Believers In Mysterious Planet Nibiru Await Earth's End, LiveScience, Natalie Wolchover, July 5, 2011, Access Date Nov 16, 2021
  19. Beyond 2012: Why the World Didn't End, NASA, Dec 22, 2012, Access Date Nov 16, 2021
  20. Why the World Didn't End Yesterday, NASA, Dec 22, 2012, Access Date Nov 16, 2021