Paul Roland at Sighting Magazine talks to Robert Temple, the author of ‘The Sirius Mystery’, a book centering on the ancient astronaut theory now re-released by Century.
While other purveyors of the ‘ancient astronaut’ theory delight in sensational claims that our ancestors inherited precision engineering techniques, battery cells, lasers and even the principles of manned flight from extraterrestrials, author Robert Temple quietly concludes that our intergalactic visitors were content to leave us with the guidelines for establishing civilisation.
Robert’s exhaustive research, originally published in 1976 as ‘The Sirius Mystery’ (and republished this month in a heavily revised edition by Century), was unfortunately overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the theories of Erich Von Daniken. But after Von Daniken’s conclusions had been largely dismissed as spurious speculation, Temple’s sound scientific study has proven to be enduring inspiration to a host of other writers such as Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock and Colin Wilson who have ventured in search of the ‘true’ origins of civilisation.
Temple, a highly respected classical scholar and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was initially fascinated by his discovery that an African tribe called the Dogon appeared to have known for centuries that the dog star Sirius is actually a double-star a fact finally confirmed by astronomers in 1995. The star’s companion, Sirius B, had been invisible to even the most powerful telescopes, although it’s existence was suspected as long as 1830.
The Dogon tradition records that knowledge of Sirius B and other astronomical data (such as the fact that the planets revolved around the sun, that the moon was dry and lifeless and that Jupiter had moons and Saturn had rings) had been entrusted to their ancestors by fish-like gods from a third star in the Sirius system almost 5000 years ago. The Dogon called these gods the Nommo and had incorporated stories about them and Sirius in their rites and rituals.
Temple’s interest in a possible Dogon connection with ancient Egypt and Sumeria intensified when he recalled that the Egyptians held Sirius, the dog star, to be sacred and that Isis, the principal goddess of ancient Egypt and sister-wife of Osiris, was often depicted with two minor goddesses, suggesting that the Egyptians might also have known that Sirius was a three-star system. This knowledge was not incorporated in their hieroglyphics as it was reserved for initiates. He was also impressed by the fact that the Babylonians, who absorbed Sumeria into their empire in 2000 BC, believed that civilisation had been founded by fish gods under a leader named Oannes, a name strikingly similar to the Mayan word ‘oaana’, meaning ‘he who has residence in water’.
While Temple readily admits that there are still many unanswerable questions about which he can only speculate, he remains convinced that there were a number of roughly simultaneous landings by a technically advanced race of “extraterrestrials in ancient Egypt and Sumeria around 3500 BC. And that these visitors helped our distant ancestors to establish the first civilisations. But how was he able to differentiate between the facts of extraterrestrial contact in antiquity and the purely mythological elements preserved in the cultures of ancient Sumeria, Egypt and West Africa?
“The large amount of highly specific numerical data and astronomical information of which these cultures had preserved convinced me that I wasn’t simply dealing with pseudo-religious Mythology. I was able to prove much of it to be astrophysically correct. For example, they had recorded exact orbital periods of certain stars and planets and were able to describe the nature of what we now call Superdense Matter. They also accurately describe the surface of the moon and the rings of Saturn. And then there was their assertion that a”third star existed in the Sirius System which led me to predict that
astronomers would eventually find it and discover it to be a white dwarf. And of course, as we now know, they did find the third star in 1995 which the ancients had known about for thousands of years without the aid of even the simplest of telescopes!”
Robert is keen to clear up the popular misconception that he might be suggesting a direct contact between the Dogon and the extraterrestrials.
“As far as I know the extraterrestrials did not come to Mali. The Dogon are not claiming alien contact and I haven’t suggested any. What I am suggesting is that their very distant ancestors in Babylon, Sumeria and Egypt appear to have had contact around 3500 BC. The connection with the Dogon comes about through separate independent studies by various anthropologists who have traced the Dogon line back to these ancient civilisations. The most convincing evidence of a link, as far as I am concerned, is the use of shared vocabulary, particularly of sacred names. For example, the Babylonians called their sacred mountain where the sun arose each morning by the name Mashu. I have proved Mashu to be an imported word which derives from the ancient Egyptian word for ‘Behold, the sun’ The connection is so obvious it’s painful.”
One crucial question remains though; how were highly advanced ideas regarding the nature of space, matter and the planets conveyed by the visitors to our comparatively primitive ancestors assuming they did not share a common language?
“That’s quite a question,” Robert admits. ‘We have no idea how they put across these concepts or how they taught our ancestors what they felt they needed to know for their development. What we do know is that the beings who claimed to have come from Sirius were aquatic or amphibious. We don’t know if they breathed earth’s atmosphere or were equipped with air tanks like deep sea divers. We can’t possibly know their true nature at this distance in time, but we do know about their physical appearance because it is described very clearly in the ancient texts and in the word of mouth traditions. I have not the slightest doubt that we are talking about physical beings rather than spirit entities seen in visions, because of the descriptive detail and their actions which were recorded by our ancestors.
You only have to examine the profusion of detail regarding the spacecraft to appreciate that. The Dogon tradition clearly distinguishes between the orbiting base or mother ship and the landing vehicles, which is pretty sophisticated of them. The Dogon say that when the Nommos came the first thing their ancestors saw was a new star, which I believe was the orbiting base. They describe it as contracting and expanding. Then from it came another craft which they describe as an ark which descended with a mighty roar in dust and fire – just the effect we would expect from a rocket powered craft.
‘The tradition is that the Nornmos taught man civilising principles such as law and the cultivation of grain, but they hedged their bets by establishing centres in both Egypt and Sumeria in case one failed.
“I believe that it is significant that both centres were established near water because both the Sumerians and the Egyptians talk of the visitors as having fish-like extremities. In fact the Babylonians, descendants of the Sumerians, remark that their ‘gods’ retired each night to the water.”
In the twenty years since the original publication of ‘The Sirius Mystery’ Temple’s conviction of their having been extraterrestrial contact in antiquity has intensified as he has uncovered uncannily similar descriptions of fish-like gods as founders of civilisation in the myths of other cultures, namely China and Greece. But he refuses to be tempted into speculating whether or not the visitors entrusted the ancients with advanced technical knowledge which was then lost with the decline of their civilisations.
“Why are people so eager to believe that extraterrestrials would hand over high technological know- how to o
ur comparatively primitive ancestors?” he asks. ‘Why would an advanced species give computers to a cultured, but otherwise near primitive society? I consider thatthey gave us a great deal. They set up the first civilisations and introduced us to the principles of agriculture and laws etc, which to me is a greater gift than if they had dropped a cure for cancer in our ancestor’s laps. It’s puerile and stupid to think of ancient “extraterrestrial contact as some sort of intergalactic aid mission. Extraterrestrials are not in the business Of stopping life from running its natural evolutionary course or of acting as supernatural beings with a spiritual mission to bring enlightenment to the heathens. But somehow it seems that they had learrft that we were at an early stage in our development and could do with being introduced to the higher principles Of civilisation. Or perhaps they didn’t know at what stage we were at until they arrived here. We can’t possibly know.”
It is refreshing to meet a learned and open minded writer who is passionate about his subject, but is not dogmatic nor insistent that ‘the truth’ is out there and that he alone knows what it is and exactly where to find it.
“I don’t claim to know the truth”, he admits. ‘I hate all sects, cults and gurus and will run a mile from anyone who claims to have all the answers. But I am sure of my research. I don’t assume that previous scholars and ‘writers were right, as many who work in this field unfortunately do. I have never started out with any preconceptions, nor have I ever set out to prove a pet theory and selected the evidence to fit it. I have never insisted upon being right.”
As if to emphasise the point, in the new edition of ‘The Sirius Mystery, Robert challenges both the traditionalists and the revisionists on the subject of the origin and purpose of that most enigmatic of ancient monuments, the Sphinx. Recent research by maverick author John West and geologist Robert Schochsuggests that the Sphinx is likely to be an artifact from a civilisation pre-dating dynastic Egypt and was carved with the face of a lion, not a pharaoh as the Egyptologists would have it West’s contention that the sphinx is far older than the official date of 2400 BC seems to have been borne out by Schoch’s discovery that the monument shows all the hallmarks of being weathered by water, re-dating the monument to a time when the area was almost tropical. most likely between 5000-7000 BC. That may well be true, but in their understandable enthusiasm to overturn the orthodox view many People have accepted the speculative element along with the scientific facts.
“It amazes me that so many People blindly accept one man’s conclusion that the Sphinx may have originally had the body and head of a lion while their own eyes would surely tell them that it has no leonine characteristics at all! Even allowing for the ‘refurbishments’ carried out under the orders of Pharaoh Kafre in 2500 BC there is no trace at all of leonine features. There is no lion’s tail with the tuft, no lion-like haunches or trace of where a mane might have been. Most significantly it has a perfectly straight back which is uncharacteristic of a lion, but is perfectly consistent with the body of a dog. It is my contention that the Sphinx was originally that of a crouching Anubis – the jackal-headed God of the Dead and the son of Osiris. That ties in too with the idea that the three pyramids were erected by the extraterrestrials to accurately represent the alignment of their home planetary system of Sirius.
“It is generally accepted that the three pyramids were part of an Anubis cult and so it is more than likely that the Sphinx would have taken the form of Anubis as the guardian of that sacred site.”
If it is true that we had contact with an advanced extraterrestrial race in antiquity why is their influence so faint? Why is modern man so reluctant to accept the existence of a greater reality? “That raises a serious question about the nature of our
species. We only have to remind ourselves that in these so called enlightened times we have had two World Wars and millions of murders by so called civilised people. Perhaps no major extraterrestrial contact has been made because we are considered by other races to be a psychopaic species and they have put us in a kind of cosmic quarantine. We might be an aberration, not them. It shouldn’t be surprising that other races are cautious about making contact on a large scale. There are approximately five billion people on this planet all with a brain but so few of them use it! It is the equivalent of having Pentium computer chips inside your head but forgetting how to turn it on. Of course, we have the capacity to raise our consciousness but so many of us choose to sleepwalk through life.”
Perhaps a full-scale landing is exactly what we need to wake us? “Absolutely. I’m very hopeful of a return visit by those who came in ancient times. The extraterrestrials must have mastered suspended animation as a fundamental element of interstellar travel. It is also highly unlikely that they would have planned their visit to Earth as a one-way trip. So I envisage them still out there orbiting in suspended animation – the very same personalities who came to the Egyptians and Sumerians awaiting their wake-up call from some kind of super computer which would have been monitoring our progess and recording the new languages which our visitiors will have master.
“My hopes are pinned on the fact that the Dogon say that the new star left the sky when the visitors departed and then it became what they called the Star of the Tenth Moon. All the cultures that I have studied say that the visitors retreated to the outer regions of the solar system. If you think this through it can only point to Phoebe – one of Saturn’s moons Phoebe is the only one of Saturn’s moons which appears to be perfectly round and smooth – like an artificial structure rather than a planetary body. This was confirmed to me by a NASA scientist. Phoebe also has a wildly retrograde orbit and is a tenth in terms of size. Some of the other moons are no more than rocks or space garbage. So Phoebe could literally be the Star of the Tenth Moon.
“It can’t be a coincidence that NASA recently launched the Cosine probe to study the so called anomalies around Saturn. When it arrives in 2004 it is apparently programmed to do all sorts of funny loops and twists and turns around the area which are not standard procedure. Curiously, the nature of the Cosine probe has never been fully revealed. NASA say they are not yet decided on what they’ll ask it to do, which is ridiculous considering the amount of money and planning that has obviously gone in to it. “In 2004 NASA will know the truth of it, but you can bet that the public won’t learn a thing. You only have to look at all this business with Mars and the possibility of there having been some form of life there at one time. That was an orchestrated series of leaks designed to avoid the kind of panic which the Orson Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast caused in 1938. The governments don’t want that kind of mass panic to occur again. So they are not only enjoying the prospect of being the only ones who will know what’s really out there (one of the dangers of having power), but I believe that they really don’t know what is out there so they drip feed the public some of their findings in preparation.” It would appear though that the only thing we have to fear is our reaction and not the visitors themselves. After all, your research suggests they are founders of high civilisation.
Yes. Besides, they have a lot of stock invested in our planet and they went to infinite pains to get us going along the right lines, so it is inconceivable that they will destroy their ‘experiment’ But then again, they were ‘helpful’ on their terms. What we might consider to be progress they might see as destruction. Being amphibious they won’t be happy to find our oceans and rivers as polluted as we have made them. And of
course, we are a lot more dangerous now than we were in 3500BC. Who knows what they will do if our first reaction is to fire atomic rockets or ground to space lasers at them!