How many times has Ancient Aliens plumbed the Anunnaki well? I’ve lost count, and I can’t imagine there is anything really new to say about a story concocted from Zecharia Sitchin’s fever dreams. All you really need to know about the Anunnaki is that they are vaguely-defined Mesopotamian deities who live both in heaven and under the earth and otherwise are most prominent in the Enuma Elish, where they build a still-extant Mesopotamian temple, the Esagila of Babylon, out of mud bricks and then complain to Marduk that it’s too much word making mud bricks—such great alien technology!
Everything else is an unwarranted marrying of the Anunnaki to the Jewish myth of the Watchers, from the Book of Enoch, derived from the Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4. There is no reason to connect the two beyond a very vague similarity between the idea of Anunnaki as princely offspring of the original gods and the Watchers as sons of God; indeed the later Book of Giants specifies that among the Judaic giants, sons of the Watchers, is Gilgamesh, who is not a son of the Anunnaki in Mesopotamia. So much confusion!
What do you say about Sitchin’s Anunnaki story, which lacks any factual basis in the texts Sitchin claimed to translate?
Ancient Aliens S06E03 “The Anunnaki Connection” opens with the American invasion of Iraq and the looting of Baghdad’s museums, and Jason Martell claims that the thefts were conducted by a crack team of “men with earpieces” to suppress the truth about aliens. The program asks us whether the looting of the museums—and thus the whole Iraq War—was a conspiracy to suppress “forbidden knowledge,” something utterly ridiculous as we know the missing objects are missing because they have been catalogued, photographed, and described. But I’ll give the show credit: casting the Iraq War as a conspiracy is usually the work of liberals arguing for a hidden Christian apocalyptic or capitalist oil-based agenda, not an alien one.
A potted history of Sumer follows, with its various accomplishments, with some silly exaggerations. Martell, for example, suggests that Sumer popped into being “right out of the Stone Age” without antecedent. Since social organization could be found at Göbekli Tepe thousands of years earlier and a complex city at Çatalhöyük long before Sumer as well, this is hot air. Besides, I thought Ancient Aliens wanted us to believe that Egypt (no, wait, Puma Punku) was the first and oldest civilization on earth…
William Henry, who believes telephone booths are secret symbols for trans-dimensional portals, lies about Sumerian texts regarding the Anunnaki, claiming without evidence that they were described as humanoids who could “phase in” to human form, which cannot be found in any ancient text. David Childress claims that the Anunnaki are “described in great detail” in cuneiform texts, which is another lie… he is confusing them with the Watchers when he talks about their knowledge of arts and sciences.
Biblical archaeologist Robert Mullins probably should have stayed out of Ancient Aliens since the show uses the archaeologist’s words to provide a mainstream history of the Babylonian creation myth for the ancient astronaut theorists to build off of.
Erik Poltorak shows up next. He is described as a “Sumerian researcher” to (a) hide the fact that his day job was running a home-based fetish clothing company making costumes for “furries” and (b) hide the fact that his other job was serving as the longtime webmaster of Sitchin.com. Friends say Poltorak never let the two sides of his life touch. It is somewhat interesting that Sitchin acolytes Poltorak and Martell both had deep divisions in their lives and kept their day jobs (in Martell’s case, helping run GodTube.com, ChristianMingle, and JDate) completely separate from their alien obsessions. I feel weird about criticizing Poltorak because he was murdered last November, but the show feels no shame in exploiting Poltorak’s ghost the way they do that of the late Philip Coppens. Ancient Aliens is deeply morbid now, and soon more dead people than living people will be on it. It’s bizarre: A moribund show recycles ideas by exploiting dead people who are in turn exploiting dead cultures in an infinite cash spiral.
Poltorak, who knew nothing of history but what Sitchin told him, claimed that the Jews plagiarized the creation of Adam from Marduk’s creation of humans from divine blood but “left out” the best parts: the blood and guts. He also repeats Sitchin’s false etymology of the word Anunnaki, and he presents Sitchin’s creative but false translations of cuneiform texts.
Giorgio Tsoukalos, who is still living, claims that the Anunnaki had “giant” spaceships, based on not even a hint of textual support. M. J. Evans, another “Sitchin scholar,” again falsely claims that the Anunnaki genetically engineered humans, which makes no sense based on the alleged textual support since in the Eunma Elish, her source, Marduk is not an Anunnaki, and Marduk—not the Anunnaki—creates human beings. Only by rewriting the text can this be turned into anything resembling Sitchin’s fake version.
William Henry tells us that the Anunnaki “seeded” Noah and other biblical figures with “star seed” to give them extra-long lives, and Philip Coppens agrees. This seems a bit too rape-like to me, but I don’t think Henry meant it to sound as much like sodomy as it came out.
After beating around the bush, the show introduces the dead Zecharia Sitchin, making the third dead ancient astronaut theorist this hour. Clearly there is a conspiracy to kill off those who get too close to the truth, perhaps by those “men with earpieces” as mentioned by Sitchin’s other acolyte, Jason Martell. Martell explains that gold can be used to patch the holes in the atmosphere of the aliens’ planet, Nibiru, and that they created humans as a slave race to mine gold. It would be more efficient for a spacefaring race to extract gold from asteroids, but what do I know? Maybe the aliens just liked it here. For Linda Moulton Howe, the Anunnaki are a “global” phenomenon that goes beyond just gold to include the need for all our planet’s resources. William Henry, however, dissents and instead claims that the Anunnaki came through star gates (worm holes), not in ships.
The deceased Poltorak returns from the grave to tell us that an elongated Sumerian skull is proof of hybrid genes rather than hydrocephaly or head binding, and Evans says it contains “characteristics that allude to Anunnaki genes,” which would be quite a trick since she doesn’t know what Anunnaki genes would be, or what they looked like, and is basing this on science fiction versions of big-headed aliens. Mesopotamian art does not depict oversized heads as a trait of the gods. Childress says that the Anunnaki had “cone-head type skulls,” which the show illustrates with an image of Oannes, a man in a fish suit. The “cone” is the head of a fish. Oannes (also called Adapa) was not an Anunnaki but one of the Seven Sages, a son of Ea. Only Sitchin makes Ea an Anunnaki, which is why the late Philip Coppens tells us from the Netherworld that the skull can tell us “whether the Anunnaki were physically real”—quite a stretch from a man whose Ancient Alien Connection explained his belief that the “aliens” were pure spirit matter and not physical in nature.
The show, with an assist from Nick Redfern, Howe, and Henry, then falsely asserts that “one of the most common themes” in mythology is that the gods descended from the sky. Very few say that as explicitly as “The Call of Cthulhu” does; instead, most animist and traditional belief systems posit that the gods are inherent in the universe, part of nature, and coequal with it. For the Greeks, the gods were physically born in the Greek landscape, for example—Apollo on Delos, Dionysus on an unknown “Mt. Nysa,” Aphrodite from the sea-foam, and so on. In Mesopotamia, the gods aren’t all from the sky, or even most—in fact, the sky did not exist until Marduk (or another god, depending on the version) actually created the sky, which came after the eruption of the gods from primeval chaos. Elsewhere, as in Minoan belief, the gods came from under the earth because they were chthonic beings, not celestial ones.
After this we listen to the unproven link between the Anunnaki and the sons of God from Genesis 6, with Scotty Roberts claiming a connection that cannot be supported from archaeology or extent texts. (The Sons of God may well originate in polytheistic deities, but these cannot be shown to be the Anunnaki and are more likely related to Canaanite polytheism, as in the Ugaritic assembly of the seventy sons of El and Asherah.) The show connects this to Greek mythology and Zeus’s two “hybrid” sons, Perseus and Heracles (apparently Dionysus, Pirithous, Myrmidion, Helen, and other kids by mortal mothers don’t count), and also to the Watchers from Enoch. Jason Martell says that “every culture around the world” has heaven-sent beings that had half-divine offspring. Technically Gilgamesh was two-thirds god, so this confuses the genetic lineup a bit unless the Anunnaki had a menage à trois with his mother.
The show then suggests that Babylonian images of winged men were therefore the Anunnaki, but these late depictions are not associated with the Anunnaki. Instead, they are late forms of the lammasu, winged protective spirits having a king’s head, a lion’s body, and wings—later stylized into a man with wings. Another carving, of a bird-headed figure is also claimed as an Anunnaki even though this figure, called a griffin-demon in modern archaeological texts, is again not associated with the Anunnaki, whom, I will remind you, the show told us were “humanoid.” Jason Martell fails to distinguish between Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, and other Mesopotamian cultures and simply declares them all “Sumerian,” as though nothing in the art changed across time.
Philip Coppens tells us that the Anunnaki have “age spans” far longer than anything humans could have, which is odd for immortal gods—and he simply lies about this being part of “Sumerian” texts, again confusing Mesopotamia’s many cultures, none of which considered Anunnaki to be mortal.
The show then tells us that the Great Flood wiped out all traces of the Anunnaki, yet somehow not the stories of their life and times, despite the death of everyone who knew anything about them. How convenient. The show reaches into the creationist well to claim that the Great Flood actually happened, that the Mesopotamian and Hebrew flood myths are real, and…well, this has been done to death on this show, and they have nothing new to add. Robert Schoch tries to tell us that “people have doubted the myths, doubted the legends” but sees a “genuine basis” for flood myths in great floods that submerged Mesopotamia. No, wait, I take it back: David Childress has a new-ish idea, which I remember reading a version of in a 1996 book about Martian ancient astronauts called Architects of the Underworld by Bruce Rux: Noah’s Ark was a space ship sent into orbit while the earth flooded.
Nick Redfern tells us that the Flood myth is universal. I recently republished James Frazer’s classic study of why that is not true, and you are welcome to read (print or ebook) his collection of nearly every global flood myth to see why.
The only interesting thing in this discussion is the way the show and its pundits bend over backwards to try to tell viewers that the Bible is true and they can still believe in all their favorite Bible myths as long as they replace God with an alien.
Oh, what a coincidence! I just mentioned Architects of the Underworld and its claim that Noah’s Ark came from Mars—Bruce Rux believed that humans originated there and the Flood was a memory of the surface of Mars breaking off in an asteroid bombardment and all the water shooting off into space—when Ancient Aliens takes us to Mars! The show suggests that the Anunnaki lived on Mars on the strength of Sitchin’s claim that it was an Anunnaki rest stop on the way to Earth. Childress tells us that he expects to see archaeological constructions, such as statues and dolmens, on Mars. So, these Anunnaki, are they not subject to the laws of physics? Are they equally adapted to every strength of gravity? Can they survive in every level of atmospheric pressure and at every temperature?
The show then asks if “global awareness” of our Anunnaki ancestry is forthcoming, and whether the Anunnaki will punish us for overstepping our bounds and sinning in the eyes of the gods. Poltorak, whose sexual fetishes may have predisposed him to enjoying punishment, seemed positively giddy about the idea that powerful beings would come down to spank people. William Henry, by contrast, thinks that the Anunnaki will have a “mass return” that will give us “new technology” by direct transfer to our consciousness.
I will point out to Giorgio Tsoukalos that he is wrong in claiming that “one common denominator” in world mythology is that the gods promised “to return.” The Anunnaki did no such thing, nor did the Greek gods, nor the Roman gods, nor those of most animist and traditional belief systems. How could they promise to return when, inherent in every facet of creation, they never left but were a part and parcel of everyday life? The Jews felt that the Watchers were condemned to eternal punishment and therefore would not be coming back. Tsoukalos tells us to just shut up and “accept” the reality of ancient astronauts because “hey, it’s OK.”
The show concludes by laying its creationist cards on the table: The narrator tells us that aliens are the reason why there is no “missing link” in “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” that aliens can reconcile science and religion, and that “the truth is too disturbing to contemplate” so mysterious conspiracies looted Iraqi museums to preserve evolution and secularism from the forces of religion.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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