Translating a message from the dawn of time

There are certain words whose mere utterance is usually followed by the unleashing of a whole arsenal of human gestures and expletives indicative of unrepentant incredulity, ranging from a rolling of the eyes to howls of utter contempt. One such word is “fairies”. Another is “ghosts”. And yet another is “Anunnaki”.

The interesting thing, however, is that the notion of the Anunnaki which, at a stroke, turns all our conceptions of history, anthropology, archaeology and even genetics on their respective heads, was obtained from a translation.

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In 1849, British archaeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard was working at the site of Babylon, south of modern-day Baghdad, when he made the first discovery in modern times of Sumerian tablets with cuneiform text. Initial translations of these texts revealed startling similarities to the Bible, including an account of a worldwide deluge. But then in 1976, Russian-born author and researcher Zacharia Sitchin wrote The 12th Planet, the first of a series of books based on a new and highly controversial interpretation of the Sumerian texts.

The series, called “The Earth Chronicles”, has drawn possibly the boldest and most irredeemable line between the entrenched camps of evolutionists and creationists since Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”.

Sitchin’s account of events originates with a planet in our solar system called Nibiru, which has so far defied discovery by contemporary astronomy, and its inhabitants, known as the Anunnaki, which means “those who came down from the skies”. According to Sitchin, the Anunnaki first arrived on Earth around 450,000 years ago to mine gold, which they urgently needed to fix their rapidly-depleting atmosphere. This interplanetary mission was under the command of the brothers Enki and Enlil, sons of Nibiru’s supreme ruler, the sky lord Anu.

Mining gold turned out to be very laborious work and led to protests by the Anunnaki miners, so Enki with the help of his sister, Ninhursag, performed genetic engineering on an indigenous ape, combining its DNA with that of the Anunnaki to create a being capable of performing this arduous task. Thus came into being the human race, with the first specimen being given the name of Adamu. Most of the gold mining was conducted in southern Africa, which is where the first human labourers were deployed.

Later on, Enki decided that the best way to propagate this new workforce would be by endowing them with the ability to reproduce independently. This development enraged Enlil, who then tried to eradicate this genetic hybrid with a global deluge. But Enki got wind of the plan to destroy his creation and instructed a human called Atrahasis to build a boat to save his family and other creatures from the imminent cataclysm.

The ensuing fraternal conflict between Enki and Enlil also led to the destruction by the latter of a site in southern Mesopotamia that was deemed to pose a serious military threat to him – perhaps a launch pad for powerful missiles and rockets. The construction in question was called Etemenanki, aka the Tower of Babel.

Evidence supporting the plausibility of this account as a whole has been found in a broad range of fields, including genetic coding, Egyptology with its hybrid deities such as Horus, Anubis and the Sphinx, anthropology with its famous missing link, and legends from civilisations scattered all around the globe from the Zulus in South Africa, to the Hopi Indians in Arizona and the Polynesians in the Pacific.

Ultimately, whether this version of our creation as a species is more or less credible than others, such as the Old Testament, the Vedas or the Popol Vuh – many of which have, like Sitchin’s work, been accused of mistranslation – is for now a matter of conjecture. One hard fact, though, is that archaeological and anthropological evidence against the conventional version of early human history is mounting.

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