In general, when an alternate theory is put forth that discounts or directly refutes established academic consensus (even from within its own ranks), one can be assured of an onslaught of discrediting and ridicule. Unfortunately, this occurs most often regardless of whether the alternative view has merit or not. The entire concept of Ancient Astronauts is nearly completely rejected by mainstream academia. Sitchin, insofar as his work represents the essence of such theory, has become the favorite target of the aforementioned ridicule and criticism.
Without a doubt the number one criticism leveled against Sitchin’s research can be found in the effort to debunk his alternative theories based on the premise that he mistranslated, either ignorantly or deliberately, the ancient Sumerian texts. This quote by Michael S. Heiser fairly well sums up the translation criticism: “If one wants to know what Nibiru as an astronomical body is, one is dependent on these texts – unless, like Zecharia Sitchin, one makes up meanings to prop up a theory. One either lets the texts tell you what Nibiru is, or ignores the scribes in favor of Sitchin.” As such, let us examine what Heiser says the texts actually mean and see if such a criticism is warranted.
In his paper, “The Myth of a Sumerian 12th Planet: “Nibiru” According to the Cuneiform Sources” Heiser makes the following statement prior to presenting the chart shown earlier that lists the occurrences of the word Nibiru:
In the texts that follow, Nibiru was regarded as a planet (specifically, Jupiter, but once as Mercury), a god (specifically, Marduk), and a star (distinguished from Jupiter).
If you’re confused, you aren’t alone. This tri-fold (fourfold if you count Mercury) designation for Nibiru is why scholars of cuneiform astronomy have not been able to determine with certainty what exactly Nibiru is. We’ll go into the problem more in later sections. One thing is certain from the texts, though: Nibiru is NEVER identified as a planet beyond Pluto. []
Did you catch that?
“…why scholars of cuneiform astronomy have not been able to determine with certainty what exactly Nibiru is.”
Yet in the following sentence Heiser states unequivocal certainty about Nibiru. Now let’s be very clear about this point because this is a hole academia digs for itself over and over again when arguing translations from ancient texts.
First, Heiser’s statement: “One thing is certain from the texts, though: Nibiru is NEVER identified as a planet beyond Pluto,” is woefully incomplete. What should have been said to qualify the statement is
“One thing is certain from the texts THAT WE [ACADEMIA] HAVE TRANSLATED THUS FAR: Nibiru is NEVER identified as a planet beyond Pluto.”
The probable reason such a qualification was not given is that it opens the door for the possibility that Sitchin referenced text(s) that Heiser or other academics have yet to translate themselves. Second, even the texts that Heiser has translated indicate Nibiru was referenced as more than the planet Jupiter. In many cases it is described as a star. Heiser himself states, “As noted previously, Nibiru was regarded as a planet (specifically, Jupiter, but once as Mercury), a god (specifically, Marduk), and a star (distinguished from Jupiter).” Unless Heiser and the rest of academia have translated every single available text (which they have not), I would should suggest the use of unequivocal statements is rather dubious.
The overall built-in presumption that he and the rest of academia have translated ALL the available texts pervades Heiser’s entire argument. And we will go into detail about this in a moment. However, it is prudent to make a significant point at this juncture. When it comes to translation of ancient texts, it is a risky proposition to claim exclusive knowledge of the meanings. Sitchin is criticized constantly by academia for this very approach. Ironically though, academia does the same exact thing.
The following is Heiser’s primary argument against Sitchin.
Sitchin’s entire cosmological-mythological system is based on three lines of argument:
- The cylinder seal VA 243…In a nutshell, the “sun” on the seal (which allegedly depicts the solar system) is not the sun – based on the consistent style of the actual sun symbol in SumeroMesopotamian seals and art. Without a sun, you don’t have a solar system.
- The claim that Nibiru lies beyond Pluto and is home to the Anunnaki, neither of which come from the actual texts.
- The “reconstruction” of the formation of our solar system, accomplished by matching the names of gods in Sumerian creation-cosmological texts with planets – and then describing a “cosmic billiards” scenario supposedly conveyed to us in these texts. Cuneiform astronomical texts never list any more than five planets (seven if one counts sun and moon), and actually tell us which planets are which gods in their mythology. It should be no surprise that the Sumero-Akkadian planet-god correlations disagree with Sitchin’s. []
Let’s take these in order:
In an open letter Heiser gives a bit more detail in the form of its question #6: “Can you explain why the alleged sun symbol on cylinder seal VA 243 is not the normal sun symbol or the symbol for the sun god Shamash?”
As it turns out someone answered this question, along with the other seven presented in the open letter. Alessandro Demontis, a translation researcher in fact presented three images captioned:
“There are at least 5 different depictions of the Sun, depending on the period and place. The most known sigil of Shamash is this (at the Louvre Museum in Paris)…”
Heiser’s reaction to the response is a showcase in how academia uses ridicule in place of retort when contrary evidence is presented to its consensus.
Heiser: Your mistake is twofold (1) apparently not knowing what the word “normal” means here [i.e I never said that the symbol was the exclusive one used] and (2) not producing a sun sign that looks like the one I’m questioning in VA243. Oops. (The one on the left is closest but lacks a center circle.)[]
So as you can see, he was required to go back and qualify the question to account for the pictures provided and made an attempt at condescension in the process. Second, he claims that a sun symbol was not produced, but he then backtracked with further qualification as there was at least one obviously provided. This is a tried true tactic of an academic and his response speaks for itself. Again notice the presumption that all cylinder seals have been found and translated well enough to establish a convention. (Remember the Dead Sea Scrolls lesson?)
Both the possibility of Nibiru lying beyond Pluto and the likelihood of it being the home of the Anunnaki are found in the text. It is just not verbatim nor together. Demontis once again provided a very cogent response:
As far as I know (but I have no access to all the Sumerian material) there is no text saying exactly that the Anunnaki came from Nibiru, but there is reference in the Enuma Elish that Nibiru is a planet coming from the outer solar system. In Tablet I it is said that Marduk comes ‘from the deep’ and that it is an ‘invader’, in the VI and VII tablets it is said that Marduk is Nibiru. Two + Two = 4: Nibiru is a planet coming from the depths invading the solar system. For more about this matter you should see my article about the Enuma Elish. As for the provenience of the Anunnaki, it is said in the EE that they come from the sky, some of them came to earth and others stayed in the sky. There is also reference to Nibiru as the ‘Star of Anu.’[ ]
Finally, by the third point of his argument, we get to the core of why academia is just as guilty as anyone who it blames for “begging the question.” The phrase “begging the question”, or “petitio principii” in Latin, refers to the “question” in a formal debate—that is, the issue being debated. In such a debate, one side may ask the other side to concede certain points in order to speed up the proceedings. To “beg” the question is to ask that the very point at issue be conceded, which is of course illegitimate. [] So how does this apply to the third point of Heiser’s argument? It goes back to the presumption that all that has been uncovered in the texts represents all that ever will be uncovered. More importantly he says the texts NEVER list more than 5 planets. Well, that is where he is really begging the question because there is a HUGE reality left out of his observation.
When it comes to translating ancient Sumerian texts there is a rather significant lineage of sources that builds on one another. It only takes the slightest mistranslation at any particular link in the chain to proliferate into the wrong conclusion. (Again, something academia uses to debunk others, but something it rarely admits happening in its own ranks.) The fact of this matter is that modern scholars rarely possess the ability to translate directly from ancient Sumerian into English or any modern language. By far, the vast majority rely lexical aids. Therefore, the overriding assumption is that the aid is accurate. Such aids have been proven less than accurate over the last few decades especially. But here is a practical concern that is never really addressed in this particular translation. Many sources are incomplete. Either because a tablet was broken or the lexicon is based on a copy of a copy of a copy. That is an undeniable truth. One which Heiser conveniently ignores with the use of unequivocal terms such as “never”. Thus, by his response to the following retort of his third point of argument against Sitchin, it becomes apparent that it’s more about ridicule than actual debate. Demontis provided the following response to point three:
If you would have read Sitchin’s books, you should know that the problem with the planetary lists is that they have been translated by our Assyriologists in the frame of mind that the ancient peoples only knew a certain number of planets. So they rearranged the names of planets/gods to the planets they thought the Sumerians would know. This method resulted in two or more planets sharing the same Akkadian or Sumerian name and being associated to the same god. A typical example is MUL.BABBAR that is attributed both to the Sun (as BABBAR was a name for Shamash) and to JUPITER (because Jupiter was supposed to be Marduk, and Marduk was supposed to be called MUL2.BABBAR). Another example is the NIBIRU that the scholars explain to be a name for both Mercury and Jupiter, preferring to not say why it would be so.
This is absolutely bogus. They know what the words in the texts mean (why, you ask?)—because the vocabulary is know from lexical lists (bilingual dictionaries) created by the Mesopotamians themselves.
This response shows where Sitchinites like the responder are really at: “The naughty Assyriologists out there just haven’t been enlightened by our hero – if they had read his books, they’d know how to translated this stuff.”
The Archive hastens to point out that there is nothing of academic value in Heiser’s retort. At this point he has been reduced to pure ridicule as his form of debate. The Archive’s only guess is that Demontis really got under his skin thus triggering a purely emotional response, or he was simply having a bad day. Either way, such a response is indicative of a so-called academic behaving the exact way which he condemns other “non-academics”.
Remember Heiser’s statement one more time: “This tri-fold (fourfold if you count Mercury) designation for Nibiru is why scholars of cuneiform astronomy have not been able to determine with certainty what exactly Nibiru is.” Yet he and academia at large continue to form arguments as if they know exactly everything about Nibiru. The Archive rejects that double standard. It may seem that the Archive is nitpicking Heiser, but the truth is when someone creates a website called ‘sitchiniswrong’, that person has decided to be the debunkers’ de facto representative on the matter. Unfortunately, this treatment is only focused on Nibiru; similar inconsistencies are replete in academia’s ‘translations’ and would warrant an entire book. However, if the reader would like more information about such inconsistencies, the Archive suggests following up with the research conducted by Demontis:
“Regarding Marduk / Nibiru / Sag.Me.Gar in the MUL.APIN”: https://www.academia.edu/11998104/Regarding_Marduk_Nibiru_Sag.Me.Gar_in_the_MUL.APIN
“The Alleged Plurals of Abstraction: The Case for Akkadian – MESH & -HI.A and the Hebrew -IM”: https://www.academia.edu/9302007/The_alleged_hebrew_Plural_of_Abstraction_-IM_and_the_case_for_Ugaritic_and_Akkadian_ILANI_ILANU_DINGIR.MESH_or_-HI.A
Letter to Heiser (Unanswered): http://gizidda.altervista.org/dossier/heiser/lettertomrheiser.pdf
Response to Heiser: http://gizidda.altervista.org/dossier/heiser/replytoheiser.pdf
 Sourced from Michael S. Heiser “The Myth of a Sumerian 12th Planet: “Nibiru” According to the Cuneiform Sources”
 Heiser in: “Open Letter” – http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/FirstResponseToMyOpenLetterandHeiserReply.pdf
 Sourced from Fallacy Files: Begging the Question – http://www.fallacyfiles.org/begquest.html.
 Heiser in: “Open Letter” – http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/FirstResponseToMyOpenLetterandHeiserReply.pdf