I learned this week that Zecharia Sitchin, the ancient astronaut theorist, died on October 9 at the age of 90. Sitchin was the author of many, many books in which the author claimed that his special knowledge of Sumerian and other ancient Middle Eastern texts and languages allowed him to reveal that aliens from a wandering planet called Nibiru came to earth in the ancient past and used humans as slave labor to mine for gold.
Of Sitchin's outlandish theories, I have little to say now that I didn't say a decade ago in writing about the man and his work on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first ancient alien tome, The Twelfth Planet. He was wrong then and remained wrong until his death. His self-designed programs of Sitchin Studies, complete with diplomas, were, shall we say, quaint.
Of the man, however, I can say this: Unlike his contemporaries Erich von Daniken and Robert Temple, Sitchin did not make a personal fetish out of claims of persecution. Unlike von Dankien and his minders, Sitchin did not personally attack those who criticized him and appeared not to hold vendettas years later.
I corresponded with Sitchin exactly once, when writing The Cult of Alien Gods, and he declined to be intereviewed, citing a lack of time--unlike other writers who immediately accused me of libel, slander, and worse simply for asking. As late as this summer, I still received queries from confused readers who assumed that I knew Sitchin and wanted me to give them his telephone number. He apparently inspired that kind of devotion.
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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