Ancient Sumerian Cylinder Seal VA 243 became widely known after in his book “The 12th Planet,” Zecharia Sitchin used it as the main argument confirming that the Sumerians were aware of the twelve planets within our Solar System. According to Sitchin’s hypothesis, this knowledge was transmitted to the Sumerians by ancient Annunaki gods who came to Earth from Nibiru, the elusive planet lurking somewhere on the outer edges of the Solar System.
Known variously as “cylinder seal – VA 243,” “The Astronomical seal,” or the “Seal of the 12th planet Niburu,” it is in the collection of Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. Interestingly, the available astronomical and astrological texts of ancient Mesopotamia indicate that ancient astronomers knew only about five planets in the solar system visible to the naked eye. Then what is depicted on the mysterious cylinder seal?
According to numerous researchers, the Akkadian Cylinder Seal is one of the most ancient (4,500 years old) cylinder seals ever discovered and appears to be one of the most mysterious as well.
According to Zecharia Sitchin’s book “The 12th Planet,” Earth suffered a near-impact with a rogue world. The residents migrated to Earth and established the foundation of civilization. Sitchin’s case originates in an Akkadian cylinder seal from the third millennium B.C. A portion of it features the six-pointed star surrounded by 11 dots of varying size (lower left).
Sitchin judged that the star symbolizes the Sun, and the smaller elements are supposedly planets, including the lost 12th world (lower right). No text on the seal supports this interpretation, nor does any other independent evidence. Thus several other interpretations of the symbols may be entertained. They could easily represent a bright planet, such as Jupiter, in the midst of familiar stars. In fact, the arrangement around the starlike object roughly resembles the Teapot of Sagittarius.
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Is Sitchin Wrong?
On the other hand, there is not a single interpretation of this image by Assyriologists or other specialists in the Middle East. The only exception is the article by the American Biblical Old Testament scholar and Christian author Dr. Michael S. Heiser, “The Myth of a 12th Planet,” which is entirely devoted to refuting Zecharia Sitchin’s hypothesis.
Dr. Heiser convincingly showed in his work that the symbol in the center of the composition is not the Sun, but a star. Indeed, in Mesopotamian artwork, the Sun is usually depicted as a circle with four rays in the form of triangles interspersed with wavy lines, while the star is traditionally depicted as a circle with seven or eight rays in the form of the same triangles, but without wavy lines.
Dr. Heiser goes on to analyze spheres or “dots” around the star and writes that “The dots are also stars, as is best illustrated by the Sumerian-Mesopotamian depiction of the Pleiades (seven dots together with reasonable astronomical accuracy since they are visible to the naked eye).”
In support of this thesis, Dr. Heiser cites Douglas Van Buren, an expert on the visual arts of Sumer and Mesopotamia, who writes that at a very early stage, seven points were depicted as a circle or rosette. Starting from the Old Babylonian period, seven points began to group like stars in the constellation Pleiades, and in the last quarter of the 2nd millennium, the points began to be depicted as stars for the first time. Thus, Dr. Heiser concludes that since the seven dots (spheres) represent stars (see an image above), the dots on the seal of VA 243 also represent stars.
Dr. Heiser concludes that no matter what these dots may represent, one thing is certain: since the star in the center is not the Sun, the drawing is not a representation of the solar system. Arguing against Zecharia Sitchin’s hypothesis, Dr. Heiser also mentions the famous American astronomer Tom Van Flandern, who refutes Sitchin’s hypothesis from a purely astronomical point of view.
Van Flandern summarised that “the Seal does not, by itself, suggest anything more to an astronomer than an artistic rendition of a star surrounded by planets. There are simply no instances where consecutive identifications of orbs with real planets support one another. Each must be argued ad hoc, and each is problematic.”
Does this ancient Sumerian Cylinder Seal depict the Solar System with all of its planets including Nibiru as Sitchin indicates?
The answer is quite controversial but there is convincing evidence that in ancient Mesopotamia, there was an idea of planetary systems in which the planets revolve around a central star. Moreover, the depiction of the planets as spheres without rays suggests that the ancient artist may have known the fundamental difference between light-emitting stars and non-light-emitting planets. Would a cylinder seal be the ‘appropriate’ medium by which someone 4,500 years ago would transmit such important astronomical knowledge?