A Brief Analysis of Cylinder Seal VA 243
Michael S. Heiser
Ph.D. candidate, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Readers of Zecharia Sitchin’s books, particularly The 12th Planet, will recognize the above seal, VA
243 (so named because it is number 243 in the collection of the Vorderasiatische Museum in
Berlin). This seal is the centerpiece of Sitchin’s theory that the Sumerians had advanced
astronomical knowledge of the planetary bodies in our solar system. This knowledge was
allegedly given to the Sumerians by extraterrestrials, whom Sitchin identifies as the Anunnaki
gods of Sumero-Mesopotamian mythology. In the upper left-hand corner of the seal, Sitchin
argues, one sees the sun surrounded by eleven globes. Since ancient peoples (including the
Sumerians according to Sitchin) held the sun and moon to be “planets,” these eleven globes plus
the sun add up to twelve planets. Of course, since we now know of nine planets plus our sun and
moon, part of Sitchin’s argument is that the Sumerians knew of an extra planet beyond Pluto.
This extra planet is considered by Sitchin to be Nibiru, an astronomical body mentioned in
Mesopotamian texts. Sitchin’s works detail his contention that Nibiru passes through our solar
system every 3600 years, and so some believers in Sitchin’s theory contend that Nibiru will return
soon. Some followers of Sitchin’s ideas also refer to Nibiru as “Planet X”.
Is Sitchin correct – in whole or in part? Is Nibiru a 12th planet that will soon return? Does VA243
prove his thesis? Unfortunately for Sitchin and his followers, the answer to each of these
questions is no. This paper will focus on the heart of his theory, VA243. Nibiru is the subject of
another paper on my website.
Method and Approach
The study of cylinder seals is actually a very specialized sub-discipline within Sumerology and
Assyriology.a It is possible to determine,... [continues]
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