Last week the blog of the libertarian sci-fi film Silver Circle (it has something to do with a dystopia caused by government control of coinage) presented a fun discussion of Zecharia Sitchin’s version of ancient astronauts and their obsession with gold.
All of these points are true, and the Sitchin theory makes no sense whatsoever. But to look for sense is to ask the wrong question; Sitchin was fishing about for a reason to support his preconceived idea that the aliens were real.
What is interesting to me is that Sitchin, an Azerbaijani Jew who worked for years in Israel, attributed to his aliens exactly the same conspiracy theories and gold fever that were historically used in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews. Sitchin’s aliens have an endless hunger for gold, just as Jews were said to have. Sitchin’s aliens control the world and manipulate humanity to serve their sole end of acquiring gold and power, just like the Jews were said to do. Sitchin’s aliens are also an intellectual race, just as the Jews were said to be, who have others do their manual labor while they sit back and reap the profits, just like the stereotypical Jews of anti-Semitic myth. Finally, Sitchin’s aliens also remain a tribe apart, living in an isolated planet and dedicated to preserving their separation from humanity, just like the supposedly tribal and insular Jews.
Sitchin then supported all of his views with evidence drawn from Jewish sources as well as the Near Eastern myths that formed the older backdrop for later Jewish mythology.
In later recensions of the Sitchin doctrine, such as that of Laurence Gardner, the traditional Jewish blood libel shows up in a highly modified form. The aliens were now thought to enact bizarre rituals involving the drinking of magical menstrual blood, which conferred eternal youth. Later, they substituted ground up gold (yes, gold again) for the blood.
It is fruitless to speculate on the reasons for this similarity between Sitchin’s ancient astronauts and anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes. Perhaps Sitchin was subconsciously projecting this version of Judaism into the sky; perhaps he was attempting to transform old stereotypes into an empowering vision by recreating them as extraterrestrial rather than anti-Semitic.
But if you ask me, I think the reason the Anunnaki are obsessed with gold owes more to anti-Semitic stereotypes than to any practical consideration of earth’s mineral wealth.
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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