The Twelfth Planet
Chapter 6, in it’s entirety, of The 12th Planet – [Book 1 of The Earth Chronicles Series]
(Part 2 of 5)
From The 12th Planet
by Zecharia Sitchin
Before we check the accuracy of the Sumerian information, let us review the history of our own knowledge of Earth and the heavens around it.
We know today that beyond the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn – at distances insignificant in terms of the universe, but immense in human terms – two more major planets (Uranus and Neptune) and a third, small one (Pluto) belong to our solar system. But such knowledge is quite recent. Uranus was discovered, through the use of improved telescopes, in 1781. After observing it for some fifty years, some astronomers reached the conclusion that its orbit revealed the influence of yet another planet. Guided by such mathematical calculations, the missing planet – named Neptune – was pinpointed by astronomers in 1846. Then, by the end of the nineteenth century, became evident that Neptune itself was being subjected to unknown gravitational pull. Was there yet another planet in our solar system? The puzzle was solved in 1930 with the observation and location of Pluto.
Up to 1780, then, and for centuries before that, people believed there were seven members of our solar system: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Earth was not counted as a planet because it was believed that these other celestial bodies circled Earth – the most important celestial body created by God, with God’s most important creation, Man, upon it.
Our textbooks generally credit Nicolaus Copernicus with the discovery that Earth is only one of several planets in a heliocentric (Sun-centered) system. Fearing the wrath of the Christian church for challenging Earth’s central position, Copernicus published his study (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium) only when on his deathbed, in 1543.
Spurred to reexamine centuries-old astronomical concepts primarily by the navigational needs of the Age of Discovery, and by the findings by Columbus (1492), Magellan (1520), and others that Earth was not flat but spherical, Copernicus depended on mathematical calculations and searched for the answers in ancient writings. One of the few churchmen who supported Copernicus, Cardinal Schonberg, wrote to him in 1536: "I have learned that you know not only the groundwork of the ancient mathematical doctrines, but that you have created a new theory…according to which the Earth is in motion and it is the Sun which occupies the fundamental the therefore the cardinal position."
The concepts then held were based on Greek and Roman traditions that Earth, which was flat, was "vaulted over" by the distant heavens, in which the stars were fixed. Against the star-studded heavens the planets (from the Greek word for "wanderer") moved around Earth. There were thus seven celestial bodies, from which the seven days of the week and their names originated: the Sun (Sunday), Moon (Monday), Mars (mardi), Mercury (mercredi), Jupiter (jeudi), Venus (vendredi), Saturn (Saturday).
These astronomical notions stemmed from the works and codifications of Ptolemy, an astronomer in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, in the second century AD. His definite findings were that the Sun, Moon, and five planets moved in circles around Earth. Ptolemaic astronomy predominated for more than 1,300 years – until Copernicus put the Sun in the center.
While some have called Copernicus the "Father of Modern Astronomy," others view him more as a researcher and reconstructor of earlier ideas. The fact is that he pored over the writings of Greek astronomers who preceded Ptolemy, such as Hipparchus and Aristarchus of Samos. The latter suggested in the third century BC that the motions of the heavenly bodies could better be explained if the Sun – and not Earth – were assumed to be in the center. In fact, 2,000 years before Copernicus, Greek astronomers listed the planets in their correct order from the Sun, acknowledging thereby that the Sun, not Earth, was the solar system’s focal point.
The heliocentric concept was only rediscovered by Copernicus; and the interesting fact is that astronomers knew more in 500 BC than in AD 500 and 1500.
Indeed, scholars are now hard put to explain why first the later Greeks and then the Romans assumed that Earth was flat, rising above a layer of murky waters below which there lay Hades or "Hell," when some of the evidence left by Greek astronomers from earlier times indicates that they knew otherwise.
Hipparchus, who lived in Asia Minor in the second century BC, discussed "the displacement of the sostitial and equinoctial sign," the phenomenon now called precession of the equinoxes. But the phenomenon can be explained only in terms of a "spherical astronomy," whereby Earth is surrounded by the other celestial bodies as a sphere within a spherical universe.
Did Hipparchus, then, know that Earth was a globe, and did he make his calculations in terms of a spherical astronomy? Equally important is yet another question. The phenomenon of the precession could be observed by relating the arrival of spring to the Sun’s position (as seen from Earth) in a given zodiacal constellation. But the shift from one zodiacal house to another requires 2,160 years. Hipparchus certainly could not have lived long enough to make that astronomical observation. Where, then, did he obtain his information?
Eudoxus of Cnidus, another Greek mathematician and astronomer who lived in Asia Minor two centuries before Hipparchus, designed a celestial sphere, a copy of which was set up in Rome as a statue of Atlas supporting the world. The designs on the sphere represent the zodiacal constellations. But if Eudoxus conceived the heavens as a sphere, where in relation to the heavens was Earth? Did he think that the celestial globe rested on a flat Earth – a most awkward arrangement – or did he know of a spherical Earth, enveloped by a celestial sphere?
The works of Eudoxus, lost in their originals, have come down to us thanks to the poems of Aratus, who in the third century BC "translated" the facts put forth by the astronomer into poetic language. In this poem (which must have been familiar to St. Paul, who quoted from it) the constellations are described in great detail, "drawn all around"; and their grouping and naming is ascribed to a very remote prior age. "Some men of yore a nomenclature thought of and devised, and appropriate forms found."
Who were the "men of yore" to whom Eudoxus attributed the designation of the constellations? Based on certain clues in the poem, modern astronomers that the Greek verses describe the heavens as they were observed in Mesopotamia circa 2200 BC.
The fact that both Hipparchus and Eudoxus lived in Asia Minor raised the probability that they drew their knowledge from Hittite sources. Perhaps they even visited the Hittite capital and viewed the divine procession carved on the rocks there; for among the marching gods two bull-men hold up a globe – a sight that might well have inspired Eudoxus to sculpt Atlas and the celestial sphere.
Were the earlier Greek astronomers, living in Asia Minor, better informed than their ancestors because they could draw on Mesopotamian sources?
Hipparchus, in fact, confirmed in his writings that his studies were based on knowledge accumulated and verified over many millennia. He named as his mentors "Babylonian astronomers of Erech, Borsippa, and Babylon." Geminus of Rhodes named the "Chaldeans" (the ancient Babylonians) as the discoverers of the exact motions of the Moon. The historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC, confirmed the exactness of Mesopotamian astronomy; he stated that "the Chaldeans named the planets…in the center of their system was the Sun, the greatest light, of which the planets were "offspring," reflecting the Sun’s position and shine.
The acknowledged source of Greek astronomical knowledge was, then, Chaldea; invariably, those earlier Chaldeans possessed greater and more accurate knowledge than the peoples that followed them. For generations, throughout the ancient world, the name "Chaldean" was synonymous with "stargazers," astronomers.
Abraham, who came out of "Ur of the Chaldeans," was told by God to gaze at the stars when future Hebrew generations were discussed. Indeed, the Old Testament was replete with astronomical information. Joseph compared himself and his brothers to twelve celestial bodies, and the patriarch Jacob blessed his twelve descendants by associating them with the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The Psalms and the Book of Job refer repeatedly to celestial phenomena, the zodiacal constellations, and other star groups (such as the Pleiades). Knowledge of the zodiac, the scientific division of the heavens, and other astronomical information was thus prevalent in the ancient Near East well before the days of ancient Greece.
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All images appear exactly as depicted in The 12th Planet
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