From the ‘X Files’ Dept: Ancient Knowledge of the White Dwarf Sirius B

Srvr Our Sun is one star in a galaxy of a hundred thousand million. That works out as twenty stars for every person on Earth. It seems natural that the idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life has most likely occupied the human imagination since prehistoric times. Ancient cultures are replete with stories of beings from distant planets, the most fascinating beimg that of the Dogons of Western Africa, a people well known for their cosmogony, claim that their knowledge of the existence of the faint star Sirius B, of which they had been aware for over a thousand years, a star which was only discovered by western scientists in 1978, was given to them by a race of people from the Sirius system itself.


An African tribe, the Dogon, lives in the Mali Republic and has known precise informations about the Sirius star system for 3000-4000 years. Dogon shared their most important secret tradition with two French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule (1898-1956) and Germaine Dieterlen (1903-1999) after they had spent an apprenticeship of 16 years living with the tribe. In the late 1930's, four Dogon elders:

The Dogon live in a place called Bandiagara, in what is today the nation of Mali, between the fabled city of Timbouctou and the city of Ougadougou. Bandiagara is quite isolated, although Timbouctou was once a mighty trading center on the Trans-Saharan trade routes. By the beginning of the twentieth century, all of this area had become a French possession known as French West Africa.

In 1966, Robert Temple, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the author of several books, happened to read some of the Griaule material on Dogon Cosmology. In 1968 he obtained an English translation of Le Renard Pale. Temple became interested in the question of how the isolated Dogon could have known for hundreds of years that Sirius, one of the brightest stars in the sky, has an invisible companion: Sirius B.

Contemporary critics have challenged the idea that the Dogon tribes drew their knowledge from extraterrestrials, citing instead their extensive contacts with Western explorers, travelers and missionaries as well as members of the French Army, with whom some members of the Dogon served during World War I. Others have called out errors contained in the Dogon myths, including the number of moons possessed by Jupiter, that Saturn was the furthest planet from the sun, and the only planet with rings.

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