Analysis of the Twelfth Planet

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The Myth of a 12th Planet:
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, through the efforts of...
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