Many of you may have seen the sensational headline running this week in The Daily Star, a British tabloid whose priorities lean more toward entertaining readers than informing them. The ridiculous headline proudly proclaimed a world exclusive: “Bigfoot is ‘evidence humans were created from ancient alien slave DNA’.” Aside from being yet another example of the supernatural and the pseudohistorical becoming fodder for the pipeline stretching from the lunatic fringe of the internet through British tabloids to Russian propaganda sites and the mainstream media, there is actually a claim about ancient texts and history underlying the seemingly ridiculous excretion from Ancient Aliens’ infamous Bigfoot episode.
The claim comes from Lee Solway, the host of the Realm of the Supernatural podcast. Like many professional mystery-mongers, he traces his interest in the paranormal to childhood, when he collected magazines devoted to supernatural and historical mysteries. Don’t let it ever be said that these media don’t have an impact. Based on his extensive reading of paranormal literature, he has wrongly concluded that scientists believe Bigfoot to be real—and to live around the world. Naturally, he also believes that “the government”—singular, despite global Bigfoot encounters—is hiding the truth: “Why isn’t the government releasing any information about them? Because they don’t wants (sic) us to know about the genetic history,” Solway told the Daily Star.
Solway claims that the Atra-Hasis epic, the earliest surviving version of the Mesopotamian flood myth, holds the key. In his telling the Anunnaki gods became upset that the Igigi, a lower rank of god, refused to serve them, so they created humans a slave race instead. According to the Daily Star, Solway “believes the seven-foot creatures glimpsed in the wilderness around the world could be the descendants of the Igigi, still on Earth but hiding away from the humans created to take their place.” He adds, following Zecharia Sitchin, that humans have “slave” DNA as the result of genetic “defects.” He names a woman’s hymen as an unexplained feature of human anatomy that only aliens could have invented. (He does not explain why non-slave creatures like whales and elephants have them, too.)
Granted, all of this is warmed-over Sitchin with a side of Ancient Aliens.
The interesting part, though, is the way that Solway (again, drawing on Sitchin) rewrites the Atra-Hasis epic to strip the Igigi of their divinity (or alien nature, or whatever) and to suggest that they are somehow inferior to humans. In the text, the Igigi are gods, and as such they hold rank above humans. It’s true that in the epic the Igigi rebel against the Anunnaki (here synonymous with the seven great gods, rather than the dozens of high gods), but the Anunnaki don’t seem to care much about it. Enlil, here depicted as the Anunnaki leader, and the Anunnaki council give the Igigi a vacation and decide to make humans to do farm work for them. At any rate, it is unclear why the Igigi would go into hiding when the Anunnaki didn’t punish them but instead gave them their freedom. Why would gods hide from slaves?
I assume it goes without saying that the Igigi were not described as hairy ape-men. Instead, that idea comes from two points of confusion. Solway has conflated the Igigi with Enkidu, the wild man of the Epic of Gilgamesh, who is sometimes imagined as Bigfoot because he was as big as Gilgamesh, a giant, and hairy. But more to the point, Solway, who claims to support evolutionary theory in principle, but not for humans, is projecting his stereotypes about human ancestors onto the Mesopotamian myths, envisioning the Igigi not as gods (or even space aliens) but as some sort of earlier primate species, much as the current ancient mysteries authors obsess over Denisovans.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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