ROBERT Temple’s book The Sirius Mystery suggests that astronauts from Sirius visited Earth in ancient times, 5000 years or more ago. These beings were amphibious humanoids, with the lower body fish-tailed. The evidence for this amazing assertion hangs largely on legend and folklore plus one piece of very puzzling astronomical evidence.

The Dogon people of Mali, West Africa, allegedly had knowledge about the Sirius star system ahead of discoveries by Western astronomers. The Dogon knowledge of Sirius is deeply embedded in their rituals, religious carvings and ceremonies. Chiefs and priests are the custodians of that knowledge, given to the Dogon, they say, by amphibious beings, the Nommo, who visited Earth from a planet in the Sirius system long ago.

The anthropologists were Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, who lived with and studied the Dogon for 20 years from 1931. Their paper covering the Sirius matter was published in 1950, and a translation from the original French is given as Appendix 1 in the 1998 edition of Temple’s book.

It was only in 1946, when he had won the total confidence of the Dogon, that Griaule learned the inner secrets of the Dogon, which included the teachings that the Nommo had given them.

The most puzzling thing is that the Dogon priests say correctly that Sirius is a triple star comprising Sirius itself (Sirius A), a small very heavy star the Dogon call Digitaria (Sirius B) that rotates around Sirius A in an elliptical orbit with a period of 50 years, and a third small star, Emme ya or Sorghum-Female, (Sirius C) which is four times lighter in weight than Digitaria and also rotates around Sirius A.

The Dogon also knew that Saturn has rings, Jupiter has four large moons and the Earth’s moon is a dead world.

Our astronomical concept of white dwarf stars, such as Sirius B, only goes back to the mid-1920s, and it is difficult to see how that concept could have reached the Dogon and become so deeply embedded in their lore and ritual as reported by Griaule and Dieterlen. However, there is a university at Timbuktu, and Dogon soldiers served with the French forces in the First World War, so opportunity was there for a Dogon to learn some advanced astronomy — but it’s a very long shot. Consider, too, that the existence of Sirius C was only confirmed in 1995 and was earlier pooh-poohed.

We have to ask if there is any supporting evidence for the hypothesis that the Dogon people handed down by word of mouth, a record relating to a visit to earth by extraterrestrials thousands of years ago?

Temple has eagerly seized upon a legend covered in some detail by I.S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan in their book Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966). These authors say, “Taken at face value, the legend suggests that contact occurred between human beings and a non-human civilisation of immense powers on the shores of the Persian Gulf, perhaps near the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Eridu, and in the fourth millennium BC or earlier.”

There follows historical accounts, each of which, according to Shklovskii and Sagan, can be traced back to Berosus, a priest of Bel-Marduk in Babylon at the time of Alexander the Great (356-323BC). This is 3000 years or more after the contact but, as Shklovskii and Sagan point out, Berosus had access to cuneiform and pictographic records dating back several thousand years.

The accounts, which Temple includes in his book, are of a being, Oannes, who had a fish’s head and below that a man’s head; a fish’s tail with feet like a man’s below. He taught mankind how to construct buildings, the principles of geometry, how to frame laws and so forth. This is remarkably like the Dogon legends, and Temple suggests that the legends of contact with fishtailed beings reached Egypt and that it was from there that the Dogon people learned of them before they migrated to where they live today.

It is important to point out that the accounts going back to Berosus do not involve the Sirius star system nor is Oannes said to be of the race of beings named Nommo.

Sirius was a very important star for the Egyptians, as its rising just before the Sun heralded the annual Nile floods. Temple makes much of this, seemingly the better to link the Dogon legends with those of Egypt and back to the Sumerian civilisation and Oannes.

In addition to the knowledge of the Dogon’s Sirius system, Temple digs out a pile of myths and legends of fish-tailed beings to support the assertion that such creatures visited Earth millennia ago. We may well ask, why only one visit in 3000 or more years? Where are they now?

The Dogon also refer in their legends to “the star of the tenth moon”. Instead of interpreting that as a nova or similar object sighted in the tenth lunar month of the Dogon year, Temple postulates that it refers to Phoebe, a moon of Saturn. He goes further, and claims Phoebe is, in fact, artificial and is a base of the aliens from Sirius. He suggests this because it has a retrograde orbit and is quite small (having a diameter of about 160km) and it is the tenth moon of Saturn. (Even in that, he has to discount some small moons).

If Phoebe is a space station, the question of why the Sirians have not revisited us in 5000 years becomes pressing.

Early pictures of Oannes show a man-like creature wearing a hat in the shape of a fish head, and around the shoulders hangs a cape of fish scales that reaches almost to the ground. In later depictions, the figure becomes closer to the classic merman; the upper body is that of a man and the lower body is like a fish’s tail. In this form, he is often associated with the Babylonian water god Ea or the Philistines’ god, Dagon.

The representation of Atargatis, the Semitic moon goddess, was initially a being having human extremities emerging from under a fish-scale cloak. Later she, like Oannes, was shown as the classic mermaid.

Why did early civilisations represent Sun and Moon gods and goddesses as having fish tails? Was it because they came to visit Earth in a space ship from a watery planet in the Sirius system?

Surely the answer is quite mundane. Many heavenly bodies, particularly the Sun and Moon, were gods. Does the sun not rise from the sea at dawn bringing wondrous light and descend back into the waters at sunset plunging the world back into darkness? The moon similarly rises from the waters only to return to them.

Sirius was a special star for the Egyptians as its rising just before dawn heralded the Nile floods on which the Egyptian crops depended.

Today, our knowledge is such that it is difficult for us to imagine the impact on everyday thinking of these early concepts of the universe. They held popular sway, backed by a powerful priesthood and the belief that the head of state was divine. As late as the 16th century, echoes of such beliefs lingered on; for example many Elizabethans believed that dying men lost their grip on life as the tide ebbed.

When the Sirius Mystery is all boiled down, Temple has added little, if anything, to the core issue of the Dogon revelation. In the 1998 edition of his book, he goes into great detail of how he has not only been shunned by some former friends since the first edition appeared in 1976, but tells us that American security agencies have launched a campaign against him. Temple claims his files have been doctored to blacken his reputation and he was blackballed in some organisations.

In my opinion, based on both instinct and information, it was the Soviet Union which was most active in suppressing serious study of both extraterrestrial intelligence and paranormal phenomena. It may seem ironical that although the American CIA persecuted me for so many years, I lay much of the blame for this with the Soviet Union, acting through their agents…

I believe the CIA was both duped and manipulated by Soviet agents in its midst…. The Soviet Union was absolutely determined to have a monopoly on paranormal research, for instance, and would stop at nothing. I believe they actually “took some people out”, by administering drugs to them which damaged their brains, leaving them alive but in such confused state that they would discredit themselves.

On reading that language of the Cold War in a work published in 1998 I suspect that Temple, too, has received a dose of brain damaging Soviet drugs.

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