The Dogon people are an indigeous tribe who occupy a region in Mali, south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. There are about 100,000 members in the tribe.
They are a reclusive tribe of cave and hillside-dwelling farming people inhabiting a sparse, rocky plateau in southeastern Mali, West Africa. They live in the Homburi Mountains near Timbuktu. Isolated topographically and culturally from the outside world for countless centuries, they may well appear on first sight to be exceedingly unlikely receptacles of highly advanced astronomical knowledge which only goes to show just how easily we can be deceived by outward appearances.
They are believed to be of Egyptian descent. After living in Libya for a time, they settled in Mali, West Africa, bringing with them astronomy legends dating from before 3200 BCE.
The first Western scientists to visit and study the Dogon people were French anthropologists Drs Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, who initially made contact with them in 1931, and continued to research them for the next three decades, culminating in a detailed study conducted between 1946-1950. During their work, these anthropologists documented the traditional mythology and sacred beliefs of the Dogon, which included an extraordinary body of ancient lore regarding Sirius the brilliant, far-distant Dog Star.
Their priests told them of a secret Dogon myth about the star Sirius (8.6 light years from the Earth. The priests said that Sirius had a companion star that was invisible to the human eye. They also stated that the star moved in a 50-year elliptical orbit around Sirius, that it was small and incredibly heavy, and that it rotated on its axis.
Sirius - which we now call Sirius A - was not seen through a telescope until 1862 and was not photographed until 1970.
The Dogon name for Sirius B (Po Tolo) consists of the word for star (tolo) and "po," the name of the smallest seed known to them. By this name they describe the star's smallness -- it is, they say, "the smallest thing there is."
They also claim that it is "the heaviest star," and white.
The tribe claims that Po is composed of a mysterious, super-dense metal called sagala which, they declare, is heavier than all the iron on Earth. Not until 1926 did Western science discover that this tiny star is a white dwarf a category of star characterised by very great density. In the case of Sirius B, astronomers have estimated that a single cubic metre of its matter weighs about 20,000 tonnes.
Many artifacts were found describing the star system, including a statue examined by Dieterlen that is at least 400 years old.
They go on to say that it has an is elliptical orbit, with Sirius A at one foci of the ellipse (as it is), that the orbital period is 50 years (the actual figure is 50.04 +/- 0.09 years), and that the star rotates on its own axis (it does). The Dogon also describe a third star in the Sirius system, called "Emme Ya" ("Sorghum Female"). In orbit around this star, they say, is a single satellite. To date, Emme Ya has not been identified by astronomers.
In addition to their knowledge of Sirius B, the Dogon mythology includes Saturn's rings, and Jupiter's four major moons. They have four calendars, for the Sun, Moon, Sirius, and Venus, and have long known that planets orbit the sun.
The Dogon say their astronomical knowledge was given to them by the Nommos, amphibious beings sent to Earth from Sirius for the benefit of mankind. The name comes from a Dogon word meaning 'to make one drink', and the Nommos are also called 'Masters of the Water', the 'Monitors', and the 'Teachers'.
Watching the Nommo arrive
The Dogon tells the legend of the Nommos, awful-looking beings who arrived in a vessel along with fire and thunder.
After they arrived here - they put out a reservoir of water onto the Earth then dove into the water.
There are references in the oral traditions, drawings and cuneiform tablets of the Dogons, to human looking beings who have feet but who are portrayed as having a large fish skin running down their bodies.
The Nommos were more fishlike than human, and had to live in water. They were saviors and spiritual guardians: "The Nommo divided his body among men to feed them; that is why it is also said that as the universe "had drunk of his body," the Nommo also made men drink. He gave all his life principles to human beings."
The Nommo was crucified and resurrected and in the future will again visit the Earth, this time in human form. Later he will assume his amphibious form and will rule the world from the waters.
Dogon mythology is known only by a number of their priests, and is a complex system of knowledge. Such carefully guarded secrets would not be divulged to friendly strangers very easily. If the star Emme Ya is eventually discovered in the Sirius system, this would give considerably weight to the Dogon's story.
The Nommos, who could live on land but dwelled mostly in the sea, were part fish, like merfolk (mermaids and mermen).
Similar creatures have been noted in other ancient civilizations -- Sumer, Babylonia's Oannes, Acadia's Ea, Sumer's Enki, and Egypt's goddess Isis.
It was from the Nommos that the Dogon claimed their knowledge of the heavens.
The Dogon also claimed that a third star (Emme Ya) existed in the Sirius system. Larger and lighter than Sirius B, this star revolved around Sirius as well. And around it orbited a planet from which the Nommos came. (Sirius A).
Acccording to Robert Temple's Book The Sirius Mystery, the Dogon, a tribe of about 100,000 in western Africa, have had contact with extraterrestrials. One of Temple's main pieces of evidence is the tribe's alleged knowledge of Sirius B, a companion to the star Sirius. The Dogon are supposed to know that Sirius B orbits Sirius and that a complete orbit takes fifty years. One of the pieces of evidence Temple cites is a sand picture made by the Dogon to explain their beliefs. There are a number of other astronomical beliefs held by the Dogon which are curious; e.g., traditional belief in a heliocentric system and elliptical orbits of astronomical phenomena; knowledge of satellites of Jupiter and rings of Saturn, among other things. Where did they get this knowledge, if not from extraterrestrial visitors? They don't have telescopes or other scientific equipment, so how could they get this knowledge?
Carl Sagan concludes that the Dogon could not have acquired their knowledge without contact with an advanced technological civilisation. He suggests, however, that that civilisation was terrestrial rather than extraterrestrial. Western Africa has had many visitors from technological societies located on planet Earth. The Dogon have a traditional interest in the sky and astronomical phenomena. As Sagan notes, if a European had visited the Dogon in the 1920s and 1930s, conversation would likely have turned to astronomical matters, including Sirius, the brightest star in the sky and the centre of Dogon mythology.
Furthermore, there had been a good amount of discussion of Sirius in the scientific press in the '20s so that by the time Griaule arrived, the Dogon may have had a grounding in 20th Century technological matters beyond their understanding brought to them by visitors from other parts of Earth and transmitted in conversation. (Sagan notes that some of the discussion of the day involved the nature of white dwarfs, for example. Sirius B is a white dwarf, an extremely dense star, e.g., about a tonne to the cubic inch.)
Chronologically, the earliest of these amphibious entities would appear to be the Babylonian fish-people. They were known to the Babylonians as the Annedoti, which translates as 'repulsive', but notwithstanding their unappealing appearance they were sufficiently influential for the Babylonians to accept their teachings and acquire from them the fundamental tenets of civilisation. The most august member of the Annedoti was Oannes, portrayed in ancient Babylonian depictions as a curious, complex hybrid of human and fish, with a bearded man's head beneath the head of a fish, and the body of a fish borne upon the back of a man's body.
According to Babylonian legends, this aquatic deity would come on land during the day to teach the people, and would dive back at night into the Persian Gulf, where he lived in an underwater palace called the Apsu. Was Oannes the original Nommo?
Equivalent to Oannes in the religion of the Philistines at Philistia (in what is now Israel) was a human-bodied, fish-tailed deity called Dagon. Further to the west, Pharos in northern Egypt was said to be the home of 'the Old Man of the Sea' a shape-shifting amphibious deity known as Proteus, son of Oceanus and renowned among the ancient Greeks as an oracle. Significantly, their traditional legends specifically claimed that he often sheltered in a cave to avoid the heat of Sirius.
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