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The Dogon

  1. Jun 1, 2012 #1
    Recently I've been reading into ancient knowledge of the solar system, and it led me to the Dogon and the Sirius mystery. From the sparse research I've done, these people knew of the location of Sirius B without (to my knowledge and other researchers) tools for locating such a star. They also built tools that describe the star's orbit pictured below. They incorporate most of this knowledge into their religion. It is claimed, within their religion, their god came down and gave them this knowledge and that it came from that region. I am not particularly speculating on the aspect of a "god" in the sense of immaterial, rather what seems to me to be a depiction of an extraterrestrial being.

    I've become increasingly interested in this story as of late and because of that I've been looking into possible debunking theories for their knowledge. From the accounts debunking the Dogon, one of theories is stated as, "they must have heard it from astronomers in the 1800s that traveled to that part of the land and from there, incorporated most of those accounts into their religion". The problem I have with that is, that their tools directly contradict such a notion, Sirius B was discovered in the 1900s, however their tools depicting the orbit were made, what claims to be, hundreds of years before the 1800s.

    My question here is, w/out the necessary mathematics to understand this system, is there another way to discover such a star without the utilization of math?

    The other question, is it more probable that these ancient people created tools to discover such a star but the tools were lost over the years? It has been noted they moved from Egypt because of a difference in religion. So, I am looking more towards aspects of plausible explanations rather than immediately going for, "extraterrestrial beings".

    The tool:

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2012 #2


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    Before I would have anything to say at all about this, I would wish to verify what exactly the claim is, and verify the ... veracity .... of the claim. (as opposed to a "Some people say...." claim.)

    Who claims they knew the location?
    Is it explicit in their scriptures that they are indeed referring to that specific star and a companion, or is it an interpretation? If the latter, who did the interpretation?

    Who says what this diagram is meant to describe?
    Again, is it explicit in their scriptures that they are indeed referring to that specific star and a companion, and that this is a map of its orbit or is it an interpretation? If the latter, who did the interpretation?

    Without answers to those questions, there's nothing yet to base any further speculation on.
  4. Jun 1, 2012 #3
    The Egyptian connection is one I'd look into. What do we know about Egyptian astronomy, and could they have brought knowledge of Sirius with them from the, presumably, more mathematically advanced land of Egypt?
  5. Jun 1, 2012 #4


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    It would seem some people think so:
  6. Jun 1, 2012 #5
  7. Jun 1, 2012 #6
    I think Dave might be right. The wiki article says:

    In order to arrive at the "mystery" you have to select, by confirmation bias, a version of the Dogon's tale that is the most mysterious.
  8. Jun 2, 2012 #7
    I honestly have a problem with that conclusion as a means of invalidating the Dogon though. Their religious ceremony, "the Sigui", occurs every 60 years, and the basis of the ceremony is taken from the masks they use in conjunction with it. The masks date back far before European astronomers were noted of being within the land.

    Source: http://www.mysteriesofsirius.com/downloads/Sudanese_Sirius_System_Griaule_and_Dieterlen.pdf

    Also, the disagreeing with the star bit is something that isn't exactly factual as it has been debated that the Dogon more than likely suggest it as an invisible star, so I'd take that with a grain of salt.
  9. Jun 2, 2012 #8
    I remember seeing this years ago:


    I loved this series when I was ~10. Years later, I happened to catch a rerun and discovered it was just pseudoscience and woo. I died a little that day....
  10. Jun 2, 2012 #9


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    The religious ceremony had nothing to do with Sirius.

    http://www.uiowa.edu/~africart/toc/people/dogon.html [Broken]

    Some background information.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Jun 3, 2012 #10


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    Several decades ago I read a book called 'The Sirius Mystery' by one Robert Temple iirc, on this very subject of the Dogon. It was heavy on the ET influence aspect, etc, and appeared to me at that time, quite fascinating .. quite plausible.

    Years later I also read a skeptics view, and I recall the book described as a seminal work of bad archeology.

    Anyway, I say, never undersetimate the human potential - past, present and future. If the Dogon did have such knowledge, it could only be through human effort and ingenuity.
  12. Jun 3, 2012 #11


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    I agree with this sentiment. In fact, Robert Temple himself much more recently wrote a book, The Crystal Sun, which would also agree, and possibly solve his own mystery.

    In the Crystal Sun, which I have read, it is demonstrated in photos, measurements and tests of artifacts found in world museums that lenses were crafted by humans going back to at least to the Old Kingdom, far earlier than recognized by archeologists of the day (or since? Dunno.) Solid evidence is supplied that certain well known miniature works could not have been accomplished without the use of lenses. The bold hypothesis is that ancient humans were able to hold two lenses in front of them and discover the telescope effect. Since the telescope would have been used as an advantage in warfare, the enforcement of this technology as secret by ancient princes would be axiomatic.

    Respectfully submitted,
  13. Jun 3, 2012 #12


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    Hi Steve;

    I've not heard of The Crystal Sun, but a quick search just now, reveals from Temples own site ..


    Technology is forbidden when it is not allowed to exist. It is easy to forbid technology to exist in the past because all you have to do is to deny it. Enforcing the ban then becomes a simple matter of remaining deaf, dumb, and blind. And most of us have no trouble in doing that when necessary.

    Well, sounds like book selling sensationalism to me, particularly in light of the fact that as you say, he solves his own mystery created in his earlier book.

    But, that notwithstanding, I wouldn't close my mind to the possibility - probability maybe, that ancient folk did know more than what we think they knew .. the Antikythera mechanism being a good example ..

  14. Jun 3, 2012 #13
    From Evo's link:

    This sentence: "When Walter van Beek studied the Dogon, he found no evidence they knew Sirius was a double star or that Sirius B is extremely dense and has a fifty-year orbit." kind of explodes the whole thing. Rather than figuring out how they might have acquired this knowledge, it turns out, like Dave said, the first thing to check is whether they actually have this knowledge, and it doesn't seem they do.
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