I'm always interested in learning about different ethnic groups and their customs and traditions and I've recently been learning about the Dogon tribe people, an ethnic group living in Mali, near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region of Western Africa. They're best known for their mythology, mask dances, wooden sculpture and architecture but their roots and beliefs are of most interest.
The Dogon are originally believed to be of Egyptian descent and their astronomical beliefs extend back thousands of years. They believe that the star Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) has a companion star which is invisible to the human eye. Marcel Griaule and Germain Dieterlen, two French anthropologists first got this information from four Dogon priests in the 1930s and it was later discovered to be true. They told them that the companion star has a 50 year elliptical orbit around the visible Sirius, rotates on its axis and is extremely heavy. This star, also known as Sirius B, wasn't even photographed by a large telescope until 1970. This raises the question, how did these people know about this invisible star without any access to astronomical equipment?
This is where it gets interesting. According to Dogon legends, the Nommos, a race of strange-looking mermaid-esque beings from the Sirius system visited Earth thousands of years ago and spoke to the Dogons. (Incidentally the Nommos also appear in Babylonian, Accadian, and Sumerian myths). The Egyptian Goddess Isis, who is also sometimes portrayed as a mermaid, is also linked with the star Sirius.
The amphibious Nommos were believed to have lived on a planet that orbits another star in the Sirius system. They landed on Earth in a spinning "ark" that generated a lot of noise and wind. The alien Nommos supposedly informed the Dogon about Sirius B and also told the Dogons that the planet Jupiter has four major moons, that Saturn has rings and that the planets orbit the sun. These were all facts that were later discovered by us only after Galileo invented the telescope.
Some people argue that this knowledge about Sirius must have come from Westerners who discussed astronomy with the Dogon priests. However it doesn't explain why there's a 400-year old Dogon artifact that apparently depicts the Sirius star configuration nor why the Dogon tribe has held ceremonies to celebrate the cycle of Sirius A and B since the 13th century.
According to Dogon legends there is also a third star: Sirius C, and it is around Sirius C where the planet of the Nommos orbits. Some researchers claim to have discovered a small third star. Others declare that the the Sirius system is in no way suitable to support life forms.
It could all be coincidence of course but it definitely makes you wonder...
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