The Sirius Mystery: did the Dogon know about Sirius B?

In 1976, Robert K G Temple (born 1945), an American living in the UK, published what was to become a seminal work of Bad Archaeology, The Sirius Mystery. A revised edition was published in 1998 with the new subtitle New scientific evidence of alien contact 5,000 years ago. Some have gone so far as to suggest that this book was the primary inspiration for the so-called ‘New Egyptology’ of Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval and their imitators. Even if this is a rather hyperbolic assessment of the book’s impact, it has to be said that Temple is in a class above most Bad Archaeologists: he presents an apparently secure thesis, backed up with rigorous scientific data of a type that most others in the genre eschew.

Anthropological underpinnings

Ogotemmêli, the sole source of data used in The Sirius Mystery

Temple begins with the work of Marcel Griaule (1898-1956) and his student Germaine Dieterlen (1903-1999), a pair of French anthropologists who worked in what is now Mali from 1931 to 1956. They reported an apparently anomalous knowledge of astronomy that formed part of the traditional lore of the Dogon, a people of the central plateau of Mali. This knowledge is alleged to include accounts of the rings of Saturn, the existence of four moons orbiting Jupiter and, most surprisingly of all, an account of two companions of the star Sirius. Griaule first published this data in Dieu d’eau: entretiens avec Ogotemmêli (‘God of water: conversations with Ogotemmêli’, 1948), in which he records his conversations with a blind hunter, Ogotemmêli, who claimed to have extensive knowledge of Dogon lore, much of which was restricted to certain tribal elders. Griaule and Dieterlen were able to synthesise the cosmogony from Ogotemmêli’s statements.

Temple was most impressed by the Dogon belief in a complex system of stars making up what we see as the single star, Sirius. This is the brightest star in our skies and, according to the Dogon, as reported by Griaule and Dieterlen, is actually a bright star with several smaller (even ‘invisible’) companions. Focusing especially on a representation of the system drawn by Ogotemmêli (who, it must be remembered, was blind), Temple recognised the highly elliptical orbit of Sirius B, a white dwarf first photographed in 1970, around the principal star of the system, Sirius A. Moreover, Temple found reference to a third component of the system, dubbed Sirius C by the astronomers who accepted its existence (its existence had been suggested but never observed). According to the Dogon, this knowledge had been imparted by the Nommo, fish-like water spirits, in the distant past.

Ogotemmêli's drawing allegedly showing the Sirius system
The Dogon representation of ‘Sirius’ as reported by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, drawn by Ogotemmêli.
The oval represents Amma, the primordial egg and contains:
A: Sigu tolo (identified as Sirius)
B: Pô tolo
C: Emma ya
D: The Nommo
E: The Yourougou (a mythical male, destined to pursue his female twin)
F: The star of women, a satellite of Emma Ya
G: The sign of women
H: Woman’s reproductive organs, represented by a uterus

Using myths

Temple needed to explain how an obscure Malian tribe might have gained such an unexpected insight into the make-up of the Sirius star system. He did this by proposing a link between the Dogon and Egyptian Bronze Age civilisation, in which Sirius played an important symbolic role, its rising at dawn announcing the onset of the all-important annual Nile flood. According to Temple, the Dogon were guardians of the oracle of Amun-Rē‘ at the desert oasis of Siwa and were the descendants of the Argonauts. He identifies Sirius with the god Anubis (Anpu), as the Greeks referred to Sirius at the Dog Star and Anubis is depicted as a jackal. Searching for an ancient origin for the Nommo, he turns to the Babylonian writer Berossos (Greek Βήρωσσος, Akkadian Belreušu, fl. early third century BC), whose mostly lost Babyloniaca Book I describes a part-man, part-fish being that emerged from the Persian Gulf to teach humanity various arts of civilisation. This creature is thought to be the Uan (or Uanna) of Babylonian myth, sometimes identified with Adapa, the equally mythical first king of Eridu, also identified by some with Atrahasis, the hero of the Babylonian version of the flood legend.

Temple suggests that Uan was an extraterrestrial visitor who imparted civilisation to the ancient Sumerians, much as von Däniken had suggested rather earlier. However, the detailed anthropological data supplied by Temple was much stronger evidence than anything provided by von Däniken and was therefore superficially more convincing.

The system implodes

However, by the time Temple had published the second edition of The Sirius Mystery in 1998, the whole question of the Dogon’s apparently inexplicable knowledge of Sirius had been blown apart. No-one had questioned Griaule and Dieterlen’s findings until the early 1990s. And this is where the problems for the hypothesis began. In 1991, the anthropologist Walter van Beek undertook fieldwork among the Dogon, hoping to find evidence for their knowledge of Sirius. As the earlier authors had indicated that around 15% of the adult males were initiated into the Sirius lore, this ought to have been a relatively easy task. However, van Beek was unable to find anyone who knew about Sirius B. As ought to have been obvious from the outset, Griaule and Dieterlen’s reliance on a single informant – Ogotemmêli – severely compromises the validity of their data.

But it gets worse. The Dogon themselves do not agree that Sigu tolo is Sirius: it is the bright star that appears to announce the beginning of a festival (sigu), which some identify with Venus, while others claim it is invisible. To polo is not Sirius B, as it sometimes approaches Sigu tolo, making it brighter, while it is sometimes more distant, when it appears as a group of twinkling stars (which sounds like a description of the Pleiades). All in all, the ‘inexplicable’ astronomical knowledge turns out to be too confused to bear the interpretation put on it by Griaule and Dieterlen. It is probably no coincidence that Griaule was a keen amateur astronomer and used his knowledge to rationalise an extremely confusing traditional lore that the Dogon themselves could not agree on.

Robert Temple ought to have known about van Beek’s fieldwork long before the second edition of The Sirius Mystery was published. He also made basic mistakes in his interpretation of Egyptian, Greek and Mesopotamian mythology that undermines his account of the origins of the Dogon’s supposed knowledge. The Egyptians did not identify Sirius as the Dog Star – that was a Greek idea – so it cannot be linked with Anubis. Indeed, Sirius (Spdt in Egyptian) was specifically identified with Isis, as the constellation known to the Greeks as Orion (the hunter whose dog was represented by Sirius) was identified by the Egyptians with Osiris, the husband of Isis.

Ultimately, The Sirius Mystery presents no real mystery. It uses discredited anthropological data, muddled mythological interpretation and lots of unconfirmable speculation. It has become a classic text of Bad Archaeology.

63 Replies to “The Sirius Mystery: did the Dogon know about Sirius B?”

  1. This article filled with bias,distortion,unfair and opinionated points,all this only rely on guess and experience from the book,this author is absolute ignorance to philosophical system and religion,he is even think that the blind must be ignorance,should not have to remember the ancestors’s knowledge . and I found this author rather like to labels someone or something,
    and then convenient to criticism them on behalf of science,all this is unrelated with the truth.
    the one thing this author only does is veto to the points of the book,but he intentionally ignore a important truth from the book:the Dogon knew of another star in the Sirius system, Emme Ya, or “larger than Sirius B but lighter and dim in magnitude”. this author can unable provides convincing explanation about it.
    All peoples should understand a concept:you should not to thorough believe a something.the science is and the theology is too, we must have skeptical mood to research unknow something,to seek common ground while reserving differences,and maintain the habit of independent thinking.

    1. No, you’re completely wrong. Emme Ya is not another star in the Sirius system. Go back and read the evidence. Dieterlen and Griaule mishandled their data.

      The truth, with which you are so concerned, is that The Sirius Mystery is deply flawed and the evidence to correct it was published seven years before the revised edition was produced. Seven years!This failure to correct is typical of pseudoscience and is evdence that the author is not looking for truth; rather, he is concrned with promoting a fake mystery.

    2. Probably no point in posting this now but I rather think that K F-M’s point about the witness’ blindness was in relationship to his drawing the system, not to his memory.
      Anyway I would not take the word of one old man, revelling in his self acclaimed knowledge. He was probably just making it up as he went. I have heard too many locals having a laugh at outsiders’ expense to be convinced by this chap. Was he getting a handout as well as the kudos?

    3. Guest, the point about Ogotemmeli being blind isn’t that he was ignorant, why would you even suggest that? The point is that there is one thing he couldn’t do. He could not LOOK up into the sky and POINT to a light and say, “That is Sigu tolo.”

      Why couldn’t the researchers ask him for one other person who could do that for them? Instead they have to guess whether he meant Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, or Venus, the brightest planet, which looks like a star. We have to take the researchers identification of Sigu tolo, instead of the Dogon.

  2. I don’t think so.the truth is they found another star in the Sirius system. you can find it by Wiki,the program “Discovery” are represent it should not fasten on more name,in fact because the name is different,for example, if the first man who called cat as “dog” so the cat is just “dog” now, the name is just a label,its no practical significance,wish you can understand what I mean.
    and the another importand is the words which Dogon saying in their age are different with our modern age,the mistake is inevitable.
    However,there are a truth is, the Dogon find a companion star of Sirius, it’s enought only one knew this, no need more.The Walter van Beek found nothing in Dogon, can’t proves everything, just like I saw some fish in the river, but they swmming away when you came to here so you can’t found them so you just say these fish are not exists in this river.

    1. It is not true that the Dogon found a companion star to Sirius. Dieterlen and Griaule based their entire reconstruction of Dogon cosmology on the words of one man, Ogotemmêli: this is unacceptable practice in anthropology. To understand the beliefs of a people, anthropologists need multiple witnesses. The fact that later anthropologists were unable to find a single person who knew about a companion star of Sirius is ample demonstration that it does not form a genuine part of Dogon cosmology. Case closed.

  3. Mr F-M,
    Reiteration does not close an argument.

    The guest used a common sense explanation (fish in a river) to explain why outsiders FORTY YEARS LATER might not find the same thing. You dismiss that out of hand without (mentioning) any knowledge you have of facts on the ground in Mali in the intervening years, which might support his point.

    An old man in the 1930’s would have learned myths or knowledge in the late 1800’s. Do you really find it impossible to believe that old knowledge might have been lost due to the European invasion of, occupation of and strong influence on Mali combined with indigenous impetus toward “modernity” in the ensuing 100 years?

    Just as “guilds” in Europe kept their specialized skills to themselves, African traditionalists often limited their skills or knowledge to a small group. Perhaps there were some Malian men schooled in the Sirius Mystery, who were conscripted to fight in World War I by the French and – having been used as cannon fodder – some of the knowledge was lost to the next generations.

    Just because some process for gathering information is “unacceptable” by western “science” does not mean, ipso facto, that the information collected was inaccurate or worthless. The Wise Man might have been “The Last of the Mohicans” to borrow a phrase from North America’s bloody decimation of Native People.

    1. Mr. F-M,
      I wondered if you had any response to my post from May or if you did respond, please point me to it.
      Thank you.

      1. I didn’t respond because I thought your post didn’t actually require a response.

        You say that “The guest used a common sense explanation (fish in a river) to explain why outsiders FORTY YEARS LATER might not find the same thing. You dismiss that out of hand without (mentioning) any knowledge you have of facts on the ground in Mali in the intervening years, which might support his point.

        The problem with this view, of course, is that Dieterlen and Griaule claimed to have discovered a traditional knowledge of the sort that is repeated down through the generations, often with modifications, additions and losses. I accept that anthropologists returning to Mali after forty years would not necessarily hear the same things as their earlier colleagues. However, the importance that Dieterlen and Griaule attach to the beliefs surrounding Sigu tolo makes it clear that it was a core element of the Dogon belief system. It is very unlikely that something so central to peoples’ cosmological understand would have changed utterly in forty years. In terms of tradition, forty years is not a long time. You should ask yourself why the Dogon would change their identification of Sigu tolo with Sirius to another astronomical body that sounds much more like Venus. What would lead them to do this?

        Do you really find it impossible to believe that old knowledge might have been lost due to the European invasion of, occupation of and strong influence on Mali combined with indigenous impetus toward “modernity” in the ensuing 100 years?”. Of course I don’t. European influence has had a devastating effect on indigenous cultures around the world. Nevertheless, it remains true that even today, the Dogon are an isolated group who avoid contact with outsiders as much as possible. They have retained much of their traditional way of life, social structures and belief systems. So, once again, I would ask you to conisder why they would change the lore surrounding hte identity of Sigu tolo when they have so obviously retained a belief in its importance.

        Just as “guilds” in Europe kept their specialized skills to themselves, African traditionalists often limited their skills or knowledge to a small group. Perhaps there were some Malian men schooled in the Sirius Mystery, who were conscripted to fight in World War I by the French and – having been used as cannon fodder – some of the knowledge was lost to the next generations.

        But why would they only lose information concerning the identity of Sigu tolo, Pô tolo and Emma ya, whilst retaining a belief in their significance? That is very, very selective and sounds to me like a desperate post hoc explanation for why nobody since Dieterlen and Griaule have been able to find any Dogon mythology concerning Sirius.

        Just because some process for gathering information is “unacceptable” by western “science” does not mean, ipso facto, that the information collected was inaccurate or worthless. The Wise Man might have been “The Last of the Mohicans” to borrow a phrase from North America’s bloody decimation of Native People.

        Except that the Dogon still have their groups of elders, who repeat the traditional lore and pass it on from generation to generation. Ogotemmêli was not the last elder to possess these traditional beliefs: he was simply the one with whom Dieterlen and Griaule developed the closest rapport and who chose to tell them the most about Dogon mythology.

        1. “But why would they only lose information concerning the identity of Sigu tolo, Pô tolo and Emma ya, whilst retaining a belief in their significance?”

          Actually people lose details a lot faster than the significance of the gist of it. That’s a very normal part of human memory loss and it’s entirely possible to extend that to a social setting where external forces have crushed the details.

          i.e. Sirius is important and so are these festival things, we must remember this, and not just stuff about Jesus and Allah.

          An example in Australia. There are lots of names for spirits/gods that are conferred with particular stars and constellations, but many of the stories have been lost, or distorted by the fact that Aboriginal cultures here have been deliberately destroyed for a long time and fused with invading cultures in some way. So it’s now hard to say if it’s a European story with an Aboriginal name, or an Aboriginal story with a European name, and various combinations.

          That said I read your article as to indicate in this case the researchers turned what the man said into their own story and it probably wasn’t his.

          Also I would not underestimate the astronomical skills of peoples who have been inheriting the knowledge of ancestors who’ve all had the time to sit and look at the sky for thousands of years. Inferences and such, even when the technology isn’t there.

          Amazing what you can see up there when you’re not in a city.

  4. The stridency of Mr. F-M’s comments sounds too much like an attempt filter out any possibility of the existence of any authentic knowledge unless is credited to some european source first. This added to the euro-tendency to credit the “discovery of this-or-that ‘fact’ ” to one european discoveror always makes such non-critical counter claims suspicious. If the knowledge of KEMITIC CIVILIZATIONS ARE SO USELESS, why is there so very much european interest in all things Egyptian???!!!!
    By the way sir, just in case you find the term Kemitic Civilization a bit strange, do the research-Africa is not the correct name of the Continent of the discussion.

    1. Stridency? I’m not the one doing the shouting!

      I am well aware of the term Kemetic. I also know it to be a fraud tied up with pseudo-Egyptian neo-paganism. Kmt was the name the Egyptians gave to their land, not the continent. Africa was the name of a Roman province. The Greeks referred to Africa as Libya. There is no evidence that anyone before the voyage around the continent under Pharaoh Necho II in the seventh century BCE was even aware that it was a distinct land mass.

  5. The greater excitement is that a heavy, ponderous theory, such as Darwin posed, leaves out so many of the mysteries we are left with, that, in and of itself, it poorly represents the “presents” we have. Those “presents” which we marvel at, lead us out of the miry clay and into the world of unimaginable splendor. Zecharia Sitchin gave us a marvelous story of civilization. Arriving at conclusions is like a child saying constantly, “are we there yet”. It is the journey that speaks to our sense of adventure and not necessarily the finding of an end point. The art of making a symbolic record on clay tablets is a marvelous way to preserve human events. The translations of those symbols are what we ponder and discuss. No one doubts the records if they are tested and found to be authentic. Another exciting aspect we enjoy is comparing the old manuscripts. Taken a step back, we begin to have many questions about why humans developed. The fossil records are constantly turning up new and exciting clues. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the destination.

  6. Postulating a theory of creation is risky…I know of many who would attempt to kill any theory that doesn’t agree with the existing theory. It does take a bold adventurous soul to put forth new and different ideas. We need to be less harsh on new ideas and formulate alternatives. We can have the evidence right in front of us and still refuse to accept it. We all know that the sun doesn’t come up in the morning but we still say otherwise. We have all the evidence right in front of us but we we still speak like someone in the middle ages. Changing how we think sometimes takes decades or centuries. Christian missionaries tried to eradicate all the “myths” of the “heathens” and we are left with a lot of destroyed oral records. However it does not matter that records were destroyed because what we think does not change the facts.

  7. No point arguing about it.

    Dieterlen and Griaule had reason to believe that the Dogon believed that Sirius was composed of more than one star. This was later shown to be true with the discovery of Sirius B and C.

    What we don’t know is how Dieterlen and Griaule came to believe the Dogon believed it. The OP is saying that it’s purely coincidental that they happened to interpret something which later turned out to be factual and others are saying it’s evidence that the Dogon really did know. Neither stance has any foundation in fact.

    1. Dieterlen and Griaule believed that Sigu Tolo is Sirius: the problem is that subsequent work has found that the Dogon themselves do not identify it with Sirius. As far as any analysis goes, that’s the end of the story.

      1. Subsequent work has shown that some Dogon may not identify Sigu Tolo with Sirius. However, van Beek’s work does not necessarily capture the totality of Dogon belief. He himself noted contradictions. In addition, his work was conducted many decades after Griaule, granting more than enough time for beliefs to change. There are some who think that van Beek’s informants didn’t actually trust him and may have been feeding him lies in order to keep the Muslim majority government off their backs. I do think there is a bias in that much skepticism is derived from the belief that a group of Africans couldn’t possibly know this much about astronomy. However, that’s erroneous. Some “primitive” peoples devote a lot of time and energy studying the stars for both religious and practical reasons.(The stars may help them find their way in the desert) This knowledge wouldn’t necessary be shared with everyone in the tribe, especially if this knowledge is seen as sacred. Griaule may have been a piss poor ethnographer but I do think there is much value in the exchange he had with the elder Ogotemmeli.

    2. Sirius C has never been discovered. Please note that during Griaule’s time, it was thought that there was a third companion. This observed speck of light has since been shown to be a star far behind Sirius (from our perspective) and not associated with the Sirius system in the least. Though no third Sirius system star has been discovered, it cannot be ruled out. “It cannot be ruled out” means very little, as I’m sure you can see.

      Sirius B was first observed by telescope in 1862. Evidence of it’s nature as a white dwarf star was first discovered in 1915.

      Griaule’s visits with the Dogon began more than twenty years later and after several tribesmen had served in WWI with the Allies.

      In other words, the Dogon’s “knowledge” of the Sirius star system suspiciously resembles European (erroneous) knowledge of the same system the time period.

  8. I read this non-sense of a book just after it came out, more than 10 years before the only idea to study Archaeology at university could cross my mind. And even back then it was the most incredible pile of rubbish I ever read.
    Mr. Fitzpatrick-Matthews, nice to read your blog and nice to see there’s still a lot of common sense (and humour) around, even while discussing serious evidence and findings.

    To all the other commenters, when you sign up as a guest to comment, you can’t think to be taken as believable, what you say in your posts is worthless if you don’t even have the courage to sign in with a name or nickname. No evidence, no proof, nothing happened ;)

    1. Some people would rather stay asleep than believe that there is an extraterrestrial presence that at one time made contact with this planet, and quite possibly continues to make contact with this planet. Why is Sirius radio called Sirius radio, and why do they use the dog as their corporate logo? Why was it said that Aleister Crowley made contact with a being from Sirius in order to write, “The Book of the Law”, which is a very interesting read and is very other-worldy. Why in ancient history was Sirius regarded as the most important star in the sky? Why is Sirius used as the “blazing star” in Masonic temples? Why do Egyptian hieroglyphs represent Sirius all over the place? Sure you can possibly disregard the Dogon connection, but can you really disregard all of these other esoteric connections to Sirius and say that they’re all unrelated? I don’t think you can.

      1. The reason that Sirius is so prominent in the myths of people around the world is that it’s the brightest of the “fixed stars” (in other words, not a planet). It’s visible from most of the populated latitudes and if you’ve ever seen it in a sky away from street light pollution, it really does stand out as so much brighter than anything around it.

        As for modern radio stations naming themselves Sirius, are you actually being serious in implying that this means the directors are privy to some ancient knowledge? It all appears very, very unlikely to me to be the reason for their choice of name!

        1. So that’s it? Just because it’s the brightest star in the sky people obsess over it? That doesn’t jive with me. The ancients were in tune with knowledge that is finally beginning to come back to us.

          How were the pyramids built? Why is there a sunken civilization off the coast of Japan? Why are there pyramids being found all over the world? Human beings have been on this planet for a very very long time.

          1. Human beings have been here for a very long time. The universe is vast and infinite, so how hard is it to accept the idea that extra terrestrials at one time made contact with us, and quite possibly changed our DNA?

            I’d also find it more likely that the directors of Sirius radio are privy to more ancient knowledge than you might have.

          2. Heck for all you and I know they can still be here right now amongst us, only on a different dimension.

          3. You don’t need aliens to build a big temple. You need the sheer will of many. Nothing different than today… But it seems aliens are needed to fill up ignorant and lazy “conclusions”, all based on nothing.

  9. Yoursleeping, I think you are, to be honest. As a matter of fact, there is 99% of mankind who believe in a God, of any sort, and they could dismiss what you just said as heresy.
    So take it an example and don’t try to push your beliefs (because those are beliefs, not evidence) onto someone else.

    As concerning the answers to your questions, Mr. Fiztpatrick-Matthews already gave some reliable evidence and deconstructed your theories.

    As regards my personal opinion, I still wonder why some people believe that at a time or another aliens should have visited this place and stayed anonymous or ‘left’ clues. It doens’t make any sense to me and never will.

    1. I’m not trying to push my beliefs, I’m trying to further the discussion. The question is being raised concerning the Dogon and possible other-worldly visitors. Futher examples of beings more advanced than us possibly existing on this planet at one time can be seen across the globe at megalithic sites that were built thousands, if not tens of thousands of years ago (at least).
      It absolutely does not seem far-fetched that we were visited, and these people at one time helped build these structures for purposes we have yet to come to an understanding of. Also, that these sites were built to super exact mathematical measurements involving the ‘golden ratio’ and pi is mind-boggling. These sites were also built upon ley lines throughout the globe. Even in current times the people in power have understanding of the Earth’s energy grid and have built their churches and political structures along these energy lines. The evidence that I provide is here on this planet for all to see. A great mystery indeed which is hidden in plain site. I find it not only disturbing, but sad that your close-minded world view will not allow you to see the unlimited possibilities that the universe has to offer.

      1. Yoursleeping, it’s ‘BELIEFS’. It’s what you believe that it makes you interpret ancient documents that way.

        For instance, I BELIEVE that ancient civilizations were not as stupid as some people want to make them appear and I interpret monuments built thousands of years ago as man-made.

        So, you ‘believe’ the aliens came here and they ‘gave a hand’ to men, too stupid or technically disadvantaged to do it on their own, I ‘believe’ that those ancient monuments were built by humans who were more than capable of doing it.

        EVIDENCE= monuments
        INTERPRETATION= aliens

        So you’re trying to push your ‘beliefs’ onto other people. Aliens didn’t leave any evidence, as well as there’s no evidence they even exist and ever possessed light-speed spacecrafts to go around the universe in their ‘charity’ trips to help herds of other planets in getting more technology.

        As far as we know, aliens could exist but even being less technologically advanced than humans make them to be.

  10. YS22, pyramids were built by ancient Egyptians. Get over it.

    If you can’t because it is really impossible for you to accept others’ opinions as reliable and true, you can visit and chat in all those nice New Age websites instead of disguising yourself as a radical or post-post-processual archaeologist in an Archaeology site.
    The universe is vast and infinite and beyond your grasp (as mine or anyone else).
    As anything beyond our grasp, it is easy to make assumptions of any kind. So keep yours and let the others keep theirs instead of reasoning like a Messiah.

    I have to admit that I found this website quite a learning experience, because I thought the alien-believers were not part of any religion. Doh.

    1. MerlinScotland, wow what a huge handle! So a druid from times of old.. or at least one reincarnate into this chaotic mixed World. Your quote;
      ‘The universe is vast and infinite and beyond your grasp (as mine or anyone else)’
      This is a non-scientific statement as the assumption is that the contents of the mind of the other are known. It may be that the same content can be assumed, but again it is an opinion rather than a statement of fact.
      If the Universe be vast and infinite, and I agree this most closely cohere’s with our observation of it, then it must have the quality of infinite possibility within its being. Here note that to frame the Universe as infinite and not include the objective observer also in that quality would be contrary to the first premise, as it is to my mind impossible to separate the individual from her universal context.
      In a Universe of infinite potential and being, all possibilities exist. To deny this is to deny the infinite potential, which was your thesis.
      From an observational point of view on Earth gazing at Sirius last night, tonight and tomorrow night and without the lensing assistance of a telescope, I would say that I observe one body. This is the simplest observation to make. Of course I could speculate and suggest that there are 9 other hidden or dark bodies there, distance making them obscure. This is conjecture. Generally in matters like this the principle of Occam’s razor has application. Otherwise rendered as keep it simple.
      So to the facts of the Dogon claim. A dude in the 1930s who happens to be blind tells a story about the tribe’s association with the star Sirius, does a drawing and claims there’s three principle bodies, despite the fact of our unaided observation of only one. Why would anybody take notice of this?
      So later we find through the marvels of modern astronomy, Sirius A, B and well knock me over Sirius C.
      A clever impartial observer might say;
      a) lucky guess
      b) ramblings of a madman
      c) nothing here
      d) how did they know?
      Merlin you’re endowed with the Wisdom of a sage, or at least your namesake is, which answer?
      Applying Occam’s razor suggests d).
      From here one is enabled to speculate as to how that knowledge may have entered their cultural milieu.
      Here we are entitled to compare with the literature already in existence which offers a view that Sirius was very important to the Ancients. This is proven is it not?
      As the Dogon exist on a continent where another civilization held Sirius important to their ritual existence, one can ask further questions.
      i) did the Dogon arrive at the information though their own agency?
      ii) Was there cross fertilization of the idea or knowledge from external Earth based groups?
      iii) Were there groups who’s initiation enabled them to travel to distant parts of the cosmos via the vehicle of astral travel? (This may assist in ridding the aliens from the picture and still provide the means to access the knowledge).
      iv) was the Dogon or others or many including the Dogon, visited by off Earth entities that may have the star system Sirius as their base?
      v) if we’ve been visited by entities from Sirius, are they the only ones? Have others visited then in the ancient days, the intervening period, and more recently? Are they likely to visit in the future?
      Now we are travelling down a path of reasoning the best possible explanations for the material we have at our disposal. We are not fettered by rigid frameworks or constructs of mental gymnastics. We are free to access the information and make the best sense of it we can.
      To close the discussion on the base that it offends my materialistic concepts denies the initial statement; that the Universe is vast and infinite. This would be a contradiction and not at all suited to the mojo of the great Sage Merlin.

      Peace and openness greg.

  11. You see what you believe. Who needs evidence? Cherry picking the data will always support your beliefs. Attacking the messenger is useless, going beyond all the dogma and not stepping in it is the challenge .

  12. To all contributors mentioning the “infinite universe”: what do you understand by this? Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) suggested that if the universe was infinite, then anything you could imagine would exist somewhere in it. Thus he prposed a planet somewhere on which mattresses grew in a mattress swamp. If this is the sort of “infinite” you are talking about then everyone’s theory is correct.

  13. Johnathan Swift wrote in one of his stories that there were two moons orbiting Mars years before they were discovered. I take it he must have been in contact with aliens then. Or he made it up. Which is what the Sirius mystery is. A made up story.

  14. i think the main focus should be: did the book come out after the stars were discovered or before. no one addressed that, and I am too lazy to look that up. do any of you know the answer?

    1. The book came out long after Sirius B was discovered and some years after Sirius C was hypothesised. As far as I know, Sirius C is still only hypothetical.

  15. US astronomer Carl Sagan thought there was evidence that some Dogon did indeed have knowledge about Sirius, that they could only have obtained from an advanced civilization. He even tried to identify the civilization! He suggested France. They’d dominated the area for at least half a century by that time.

  16. The usual biased stretched out by a raving racist who can’t seem to grasp a African people in what appears to them to be a simple and humble setting, but having a advanced aesthetic that doesn’t fit into their little equations of what advanced is.

    Not only was Mr. Griaule and Deiterlen humble and honest in their observation and dead on in my opinion. their are others who agree with them, and has detailed the biased scrutiny of other so-called researcher. Scholar Ivan Van Sertima who’s book “The Sirius Mysteries totally obliterates this same biased articles and its foolishness about the authenticity of these peoples lore. and the racist whites with their contempt and campaigns pre-meditated extreme prejudice

    I will add, that the publisher of this article made no mention also of Cosmogony in detail and the understandings of it definition, simply put its how we measure reality this would include the measuring of time, as part of that reality. African people as others of the world outside of the west measure time differently relative to their culture developmental understanding of it, and they have a damn good understanding.

    With that being said. the 1st written calenders are not Gregorian or Julian, or that matter Mayan, its the Siderial found only in African culture. it is highly accurate in cosmological measurements and the understanding of the relativity of celestial being to one another. He also made no mention, because i assume he’s clueless of it also ,that these people also speak and right still to this day the ancient language they call in there tongue MEDU, loosely referred to by the Greeks as the hieroglyphics.

    Lastly do u think that these people after thousands of years of their ancestor being subjigated for this knowledge would let the children of their enemies in who started the destruction of these societies, know really much of anything of real substance LOL PLEASE. these people also care less what the rest of the world thinks of them. only a chosen few will ever obtain any real knowledge of this real power and wisdom from these people.

    1. I am not racist. The work of van Beek makes it clear that Dieterlen and Griaule were either mistaken or making things up. It is not racist to say so. They misrepresented Dogon cosmological beliefs.

      1. It must suck sometimes to be the bearer of bad news… I want so badly to read the book with more intrigue than skepticism… but your arguments for and against, as well as your articulate, yet direct approach to the more major points being made by those who tend to share ideas more likened to my own are just super compelling. It’s quite disappointing. I do this kind of research because I want to believe in magic and wonder, but it’s has to be real, tangible, and measurable. I am looking for more meaning to life and the human experience, but I won’t sacrifice the truth to find it. I guess that’s where I differ from those who share my same obsession with other-wordly contact or quantum-physical, science-based magic, chemical magic such as alchemy, or any other advanced manipulation of the physical plane. I’m guessing it sucks just as much to have to admit it isn’t real to yourself as it does to others who want to believe it too.

  17. Some 200,000 Dogon people are reproted to have shown up for Dieterlen’s funeral. He was well respected, and as such, seems to have been privy to sacred knowledge that would likely be withheld from others. So, the fact that some recent investigator found little is hardly surprising.

    1. Germaine Dieterlen dies in Paris and 200,000 Dogon travel all the way from Mali to France to attend the funeral, should I believe this because it’s been reported? Exactly who reported this? After looking for any corroborating evidence the only reference I find of 200,000 Dogons attending her funeral is from your post. Further, the ENTIRE Dogon population is estimated at about 300,000, so you’re claiming that 66% of the Dogon population went to Paris to attend Dieterlen’s funeral? The premise alone is absurd beyond reason which becomes all the more clear considering you don’t even know that Dieterlen was female.

      She might have been respected by the Dogon, or at least the ONE SINGLE Dogon who felt it was his duty to share with outsiders the most closely held cosmological secrets of his people. Dieterlen and Griaule failed in their anthropological duties by reporting what ONE SINGLE Dogon male claimed as the accepted cosmological belief system of the entire Dogon people. The unsurprising reason no other anthropologists have found what Dieterlen and Griaule found is there is nothing to find. There is no Dogon Sirius mystery. They were duped by one guy who was probably laughing at them behind their backs. If they should be respected for anything it should be as a bright and shining example of how NOT to conduct anthropological studies.

      1. So who else has conducted anthropological work with the Dogon? And why do we assume that one anthropologist whose work was conducted so many decades later is somehow more accurate? Because he asked more people? How do we know we can trust the informants?

  18. i was enjoying this website until I read through mr F-M’s comments in this thread.
    still is unable to explain how the original folks could have known about, or really supposed, about sirius b 20 years before its scientifically verified discovery.
    another pattern of inserting one oversimplified conclusion for another…
    too bad- bye bye bad archaeology

    1. But… He DID address that… He stated that Sirius B was discovered years before Conversations with Ogotemelli

  19. Actually, the whole “mystery” is based as much on, Robert Temple’s unwarranted assumptions as those of Griaule and Dieterlen. If I may be excused self-referencing, I published this back in 1978:
    It’s a long article, but just cut to the final five paras and you’ll get my point, which is that that there are any number of channels by which the Dogon could have received Western knowledge long before they were visited by Griaule and Dieterlen.

  20. I am not trying to prove either side right or wrong, but I would be curious how much colonization, outside contact, modern economy, etc, have influenced the lives, cultures, social-organization and beliefs of the Dogon people. If we look at many different tribes of people around the world, all with their own long-standing sacred traditions, we can see that things change drastically over time. Much gets lost or mixed up, especially with missionaries bullying people around, europeans dominating the resources and drastically changing lifestyle and economic realities, etc. I have not studied about the Dogon people’s history, but I would think maybe this aspect is worth exploring. Just as an example why, here in America, some Native tribes lost all of their sacred traditions from contact and change, and others lost only some or had their traditions evolve into different interpretations from what existed among the original pre-contact peoples (as evidenced by early anthropological writings, historical accounts, etc). Some tribes have even at certain points in history had to reconstruct certain aspects of their traditions. The story is similar with various peoples of Africa. The point here, is that the information from certain elders doesn’t always get passed down completely, for one reason or another. Whatever the conclusions reached, it seems worthwhile to engage the cultural, historical, social, even economic, context for the Dogon people… in order to consider that perhaps knowledge or details have been lost since earlier anthropologists. How relevant are the old sacred traditions to the Dogon in recent decades, compared with the past? Is the ceremonial life still powerful and relevant, or has it been turned touristy or modernized? These are all good questions to ask. We must consider all possibilities when trying to debunk or support those early anthropologists. I have no agenda to prove either side, just hoping that this discussion would engage context more. Afterall, we are talking about a living people.
    (Sorry if this double-posts, did not mean to post it as a reply to another person’s comment)

  21. The Conquistadors were greeted as returning Gods by the Incas. The Incas having been given information on astronomy,medicine etc, by a group of figures whom they described as pale,beardy types ( time travelling hippies perhaps? ) The Conquistadors could not believe their luck and exploited this “worship” ( I wont labour the obvious here,with how that ended )

    With accounts like this who could disagree that information was given by another person/entity with seemingly advanced knowledge …other examples are replete throughout other cultures and religions.

    I bow to the scholarly prowess of others on this thread who have disproved this one small element to what is still an unproven premise of “outside” help. By the way, I dont merely expound just one theory that aliens are the answer ( or risk sounding like the character Rimmer from Red Dwarf ) but to discount this as one of many possibilities is not scientific. I especially liked the comment that in an infinite multiverse, all will be played out somewhere, if not here.

    I personally hope that it was all the work of time travelling hippies with a sense of mischief, as it would explain why the goatee remained popular for so long.

    On a serious note “Dont concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory” – Bruce Lee ( Enter the Dragon )

    1. The whole idea that the Conquistadors were worshipped as gods seems to be a self-serving myth perpetrated by the Spanish fifty years or so after the conquest; there is no contemporary evidence to back this up, only records of folklore made by Spanish monks and indigenous converts years after the events, which also show the strong influence of the Bible.

  22. I believe it is the case that van Beeks critique of Griaule has itself received criticism from at least one other anthropologist. Has anyone read and/or responded to this?

  23. After this thread, I too am interested in hearing what ANYONE has to say regarding van Beek’s critique. As far as I’m aware nobody has contested it yet, and I’d love to go back to believing in the Nummo. This begs another question… Even if we can’t prove that they were referring to Siruis, are we still sure they believe in the rest of the story? Or can nobody be found to corroborate any of the rest of it? Cuz I mean… If the Nummo are from Venus instead of Sirius, I don’t think I’d be as disappointed. lol plz help.

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