The Dogon Sirius Mystery

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
April 25, 2020
Last Updated
December 5, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
14 min read
Posted in
Aliens, Agendas

At the time it was first proposed by Robert Temple in his book The Sirius Mystery, the fact that the Dogon tribe of West Africa had knowledge of star systems that even the modern world had yet to confirm, combined with their creation stories of entities from other worlds in this star system, was proof to some that humanity was indeed visited in the distant past by extraterrestrials who then sparked civilization as we know it by teaching the knowledge and wisdom of the universe. It is, of course, the basics of the ancient astronaut theory.

A picture of the Dogon tribe members with a picture of Sirius superimposed over the top

Do the Dogon Tribe had alien origins?

However, since then, many even in the ancient astronaut community wonder if the claims are accurate. As we will examine, there have been plenty of rebuttals to the claims made in the 1976 book, most of which, we should note, of unintentional misinterpretations and overzealously reaching for connections that might not be there.

However, it is these claims and counterclaims only serve to make the Sirius mystery even more intriguing. Are the claims of an extraterrestrial race visiting the planet thousands of years ago the result of mistranslations? Or are the counterclaims to these assertions an attempt to suppress such knowledge and to maintain the, at times, myopic view of the status quo? Quite often the truth to such wild claims can be found somewhere in the middle of the two opposing viewpoints.

The Sirius mystery, though, remains of great interest to many researchers today. Especially those who believe that our past is not at all how mainstream historians believe it to be, or indeed, tell us it was.

The “Secret Knowledge” And Wisdom Of The Dogon Tribe

Undoubtedly the best place to start with such claims is with French anthropologist, Marcel Griaule, whose work with the Dogon tribes in the late 1940s would heavily influence the previously mentioned Temple.

Griaule would venture out to what is now modern-day Mali to work with the ancient tribe, and ultimately to learn what he believed was “secret knowledge” contained in their creation stories and legends. He was well-known to the tribe and had been visiting and speaking with them for over a decade.

In fact, so respected was he by the tribe that he was invited to take part in the ceremonies and rituals. And more importantly, certainly for Griaule, they would grant him access to their secret knowledge.

A close-up of members of the Dogon Tribe

A close-up of members of the Dogon Tribe

Part of this secret knowledge and wisdom was their creation stories, which had been told orally to each generation for thousands of years. According to the tribe, human civilization as we know it today was started by extraterrestrial visitors, and in particular, a creature named Nommo, who was “half-human, half-fish”. This is an intriguing point that we will come back to shortly, as aquatic entities from other worlds are something that does come up in other myths and legends.

The Dogon tribe would also relay some remarkably accurate details of space and the universe. For example, they were aware that the Moon was “dry and barren”. They were also aware of the rings of Saturn, and that Jupiter had four main moons. Perhaps even more amazing, they were seemingly aware that the Milky Way – the galaxy in which our solar system resides – was shaped like a spiral. This is another intriguing detail as many spiral rock and cave paintings are found all across the world. Might this be another sign of some kind of global intervention in the distant past?

Intricate Knowledge Of The Sirius Star System?

Without a doubt, however, the most startling knowledge was regarding Sirius, a star that the tribe held in the highest esteem. Indeed, it was from this part of the universe that Nommo came.

What was of particular interest, though, was the assertion of the tribe’s elders that Sirius was not merely a single, bright star, but a three-star system.

Ultimately, it was Griaule’s understanding that the tribe was claiming these otherworldly visitors came from the Sirius star system. And what’s more, although the modern world was aware of “Sirius B”, it is almost certain that the Dogon tribe were not as it was not visible to the naked eye.

Even more amazing, although there is evidence to suggest the possibility of a third star in the Sirius system, it is yet to be confirmed and was certainly not thought to be the case at the time of Griaule’s visits with the tribe.

Griaule, along with Germaine Dieterlen, would release their findings in 1950 in the paper A Sudanese Sirius System. A decade and a half later, and nine years after Griaule’s death of a sudden heart attack in 1956, the book Le Renard Pale (The Pale Fox) was published based on his and Dieterlen’s work.

It is this point that would cause much debate as to its authenticity, as well as being the spark that caused Temple to proceed with his research into the mystery.

Incidentally, before we move on to the theories of Temple, we should note that upon hearing of Griaule’s death, the Dogon tribe would hold a special funeral ceremony for him, perhaps showing the genuine respect they had for him.

A Brief Look At The Sirius Star System

Before we examine the work of Robert Temple, it is perhaps worth taking a little time to go over what we know about the Sirius star system. And when we knew it.

It is perhaps not too much of a mystery why the Dogon (and other civilizations from, or dating back to the ancient world) hold Sirius in such high regard given that it is the brightest star in our skies. Perhaps just to demonstrate this further, Sirius A (the main star in the system, and the first discovered) is twice the size of our Sun and has 25 times the luminosity.

While Sirius (or what we now call Sirius A) has been visible for as long as humans have walked the Earth (and there are plenty of references in the writings of the ancient world to demonstrate this), the discovery of a second star, Sirius B, was not known to the modern world until 1862, courtesy of astronomer, Alvin Clark (although German astronomer, Friedrich Bessel, had noticed anomalies in the region where the second star would eventually be discovered in 1844). It wasn’t, however, photographed until 1970 – two decades after Griaule and Dieterlen’s paper was published.

How, then, did the Dogon tribe have knowledge of Sirius B in their creation stories before the modern world? How, indeed, did they know of the rings of Saturn, which are only visible with a telescope? The same can be asked for the four main moons of Jupiter, and perhaps even the state of the Moon (which right up into the modern world serious thinkers were still debating might be inhabited).

It is these points that so intrigued Robert Temple.

The Work Of Robert Temple

Temple would focus on the creation myths of the Dogon tribe. And what’s more, he would draw comparisons with many other creation stories around the world. [1]

Perhaps one of the most intriguing comparisons is to Oannes of Sumerian mythology, one of the most intriguing, alongside the myths of ancient Egypt, in the ancient astronaut community. Oannes, for example, was also an aquatic half-man, half-fish entity, who also “began civilization”.

Many ancient astronaut theory researchers who look at Sumerian mythology suggest these Sumerian deities were The Anunnaki. What is also interesting, although we should take such claims with an equal pinch of salt, are those who make connections with the Anunnaki and apparent Reptilian entities (who, of course, would match the aquatic origins quite neatly).

In fact, it was Temple’s view that such gods as Nommo and Oannes were one and the same. And what’s more, they spread their influence around the globe, from Mesopotamia, the ancient lands of Egypt and Greece, and Mesoamerica.

He would also look at the apparent claims of a third star (the proposed Sirius C) in the Sirius system, and if these claims might be correct. In 1995, three years before Temple reissued The Sirius Mystery, two French astronomers, Daniel Benest, and J.L. Duvent, would release data on their research that suggested anomalies in the Sirius system. What’s more, they suggested that the presence of a third, smaller star in the system would, in theory, explain these anomalies.

The third star remains unconfirmed, with many mainstream astronomers certain that it simply does not exist. Of course, whether its presence will be confirmed in the future remains to be seen. If it were, of course, that would make the claims of the Dogon tribe even more remarkable.

A Connection With Multiple Ancient Civilizations

It is certainly an interesting notion. And the idea of the ancient astronaut theory is nothing new to those in the UFO community today.

Might this, for example, explain why such great civilizations as ancient Egypt seemingly began at the height of their power – as if they suddenly got a “kickstart” – and then went into what even mainstream historians will call, a “permanent decline”? Might this surge of knowledge have been passed to these various civilizations at the same time.

After all, there is evidence to show that very similar styles and ways of building began around the same time in the ancient world. Why is it, for example, that such behemoth-like structures as the Pyramids to name one, were built using huge, gigantic blocks of stone, and yet those that came after were built with much smaller materials. Is this another hint that such projects had an exterior and far superiorly advanced assistant?

It is interesting, however, that the original work of Griaule did not mention any belief in a real connection to physical extraterrestrial entities arriving on Earth. He merely relayed the creation stories of the Dogon tribe. Other researchers would then add this interpretation in the years that followed. However, the fact that such creation stories from right around the world speak of the same or very similar things should alert us to the idea of an “original” source where such legends all stemmed from.

The Need To Be Mindful Of Disinformation

We have written of The Stargate Conspiracy by Lynn Pinknett and Clive Prince previously, and the need not to take all information, wherever or whomever it comes as absolute truth. In short, it is our responsibility as researchers and enthusiasts to cross-reference and double-check any claims thrown into the public arena. After all, perhaps the UFO community knows better than most the amount of disinformation that flows in the same stream as the genuine facts.

It was Pinknett and Prince’s claims that Temple was heavily influenced by Arthur M. Young, who himself was influenced by the work of Griaule and was a big subscriber to what we would call today, the ancient astronaut theory. And this, combined with his own theories that perhaps blinded him slightly, led him to ignore anomalies of the research upon which he was basing his own work.

Young, of course, was part of the Project Penguin channeling sessions (which were initially funded by the intelligence agencies) who claimed to have made contact with, The Nine, who, incidentally, claim to hail from Sirius and to have been the same creator gods of ancient Egypt.

Was Temple, perhaps unwittingly, used to promote a predetermined agenda, possibly in the same way Young was? Of course, if that is the case, then we have to ask who would set such an agenda and why?

The Hugely Critical Voice Of Walter Van Beek

Arguably one of the loudest critical voices as far as the claims of Griaule (and indirectly, Temple) belongs to Walter Van Beek. He too would study the Dogon tribe, and, like Griaule would travel to meet them personally.

Ultimately, though, he would state that there was no evidence whatsoever that the Dogon were, or ever had been aware of the Sirius star system. What’s more, Van Beek would claim that Griaule had based his entire research on the conversations through the use of an interpreter, with just one of the tribe’s elders. And further still, that Griaule himself was the source of the information the Dogon tribe had concerning the Sirius system.

However, in Griaule’s research papers and published works, he actually names four elders to whom he had spoken., And what’s more, he even named their tribes and the languages they spoke. Another discrepancy is that Van Beek claims that the sole informant was named, Ambara. We should note, this name does not appear in Griaule’s work.

A depiction of a giant white star

Are the Dogon’s roots in the Sirius system

Admittedly, Van Beek makes intriguing and convincing arguments. However, perhaps we should remind ourselves once more of the obvious respect the Dogon tribe had for Griaule. As flippant as it is to suggest, might it be the case that they simply didn’t have the same level of respect (and indeed trust) for Van Beek?

It is certainly a possibility, and something that, like the Sirius mystery in general, remains a murky area.

Might Griaule had misinterpreted what he was told by the elders? And was he the actual source of the “secret knowledge” of the Dogon tribe? And if so, was this an intentional act on his part or something entirely unplanned?

A Case Of Cultural Contamination?

The main thrust of the ancient astronaut claims surrounding the Dogon tribes is just how they seemingly obtained the knowledge of such planetary matters and other cosmic information. Rather than it coming directly from Griaule, many look toward basic cultural contamination, coming mainly from European travelers.

Perhaps one interesting point made by James Oberg, for example, is that the information supposedly passed on to Griaule was remarkably similar to the outlook on astronomy in Europe as a whole during the 1920s. What’s more, Carl Sagan would echo such comments several years earlier, highlighting the fact that the Dogon were not seemingly aware of any planets after Saturn, or of any of the other moons of Jupiter other than their four main ones, again showing such a European influence.

A close-up telescope image of Sirius

How did the Dogon tribe know so much about Sirius?

For example, surely extraterrestrial visitors to the Earth, even thousands of years ago, would have been aware of planets such as Uranus and Neptune, as well as the dwarf planet, Pluto.

While that last point certainly makes sense and is hard to simply dismiss, the notion that traders and missionaries would feel the need to impart European astronomical knowledge to the Dogon tribe, while not at all impossible, is not that much of a given either.

We should note that when asked if she believed it was possible that the Dogon tribe had indeed learned such cosmic knowledge not in antiquity but in the years leading up to their own meetings with them, she would respond that such a notion as “absurd”. What’s more, she would display ceremonial mask – said to be 400 years old, but not officially carbon dated – that clearly shows a star map of Sirius with other known stars in the area.

Connections To The Sea And Aquatic Worlds And Modern UFO Sightings

As we mentioned above, many creation stories state that a half-human, half-fish entity came from above to teach humanity the wisdom of civilization. And we have already highlighted – as outlandish as such claims might themselves be – the intriguing connections to the notion of “reptilian creatures”, advanced beings who once interacted with humanity.

Perhaps it is worth our time recalling, that in the modern age, at least, many of the UFO sightings that continue rampantly (and have done since the midway point of the 20th century) take place over or near water. There are various theories as to why this might be, with most assuming it is either to use the resource for consumption or fuel.

A depiction of a UFO taking off from an alien world

Many details of the Dogon myths can also be found in reports of UFO encounters

As much as a jump as it might be, and a tentative one at that, if we accept for one moment that the claims of aquatic extraterrestrial visitors are true, might this explain why these otherworldly crafts seem to favor these watery environments? If this extraterrestrial presence has remained on Earth, hidden to boot, for thousands of years then it would make sense that they would seek refuge in an environment that would suit their aquatic needs.

The legends of Nommo and Oannes, for example, speak of them “returning to the water” at night. Might this be a connection, albeit a tentative and speculative one, that is worth more serious consideration? And if there is a connection, should that alert us to the fact that whoever these mysterious visitors were in ancient times, there are still visiting us today in our contemporary era?

In fact, we will turn our focus next to ancient texts. Many of which might also offer hidden truths from antiquity, which, in turn, might shine a light on some of the mysteries of our modern world.

Ancient Texts – Open Very Much To Interpretation

Perhaps one point to examine are some of the Biblical writings, and specifically the tale of the Three Wise Men who were said to visit Jesus upon his birth. Many believe that the account is allegorical, with the Three Wise Men representing the three belt stars of Orion. At the time of year of Jesus’ apparent birth – but more to the point the winter solstice – the three stars of Orion’s belt point directly toward Sirius.

In fact, some researchers suggest that the “guiding light” that the men followed is, in fact, a representation of Sirius itself. Or perhaps, if we accept the importance of Sirius in such allegory, the Three Wise Men actually represent the three-star Sirius system.

An ancient seal depicting strange aquatic humanoids

Many ancient texts speak of strange visitors from the sky

Of course, the one problem with examining ancient texts is that they are very much open to interpretation. And not just now in our contemporary world, but when they were translated or transcribed, in some cases, thousands of years ago. Indeed, we can read texts today which are clearly speaking of the same account but that have had discreet changes made to them, whether intentionally or not.

As we have mentioned before – much the same as other researchers – what we know of history is a lot of the time based on educated guesses. And what’s more, because of the myopic nature of the mainstream in general, anyone who discovers or suggests an alternative timeline of events – no matter how well-argued and regardless of, albeit, circumstantial evidence – faces an uphill battle.

That is certainly not to say that any and all wild guesses, no matter how outrageous, should be given the same serious consideration. However, the idea of an advanced civilization being present on Earth long ago, as well as the genuine mysteries of human history, have obvious connections.

Extraterrestrial Or Terrestrial Passers Of Wisdom?

Essentially, whether you subscribe to the claims of Temple and Young that the Dogon tribe was given advanced knowledge and wisdom by their alleged creator gods from above will perhaps depend very much on your belief system or lack thereof in general.

For example, if you lean toward the ancient astronaut theory being probable, or even likely, then you will very likely find Temple’s ideas at the very least appealing. And, likewise, if you already struggle with the idea of extraterrestrials visiting our planet in the distant past and, intentionally or not, becoming the basis for all manner of creation stories and legends in the process, then you are likely to find the Sirius mystery very likely. Whichever camp you find yourself, though, it is important to view the claims and counterclaims with an open mind.

A depiction of aliens in ancient times teaching early humans

Did aliens pass wisdom to humans in ancient times?

Before we wrap up our case study examination of the Sirius mystery and the alleged knowledge of the Dogon tribe, it is also worth our time looking at the idea that instead of extraterrestrials visiting such civilizations in ancient times, these mysterious visitors were perhaps the remains of an advanced, but very terrestrial civilization.

We have examined before the idea of Atlantis, for example, whose survivors may have been the creator gods and wisdom bringers in the myths and legends of our earliest (known) civilizations.

And while most of us would assume that such a terrestrial civilization would undoubtedly be human, perhaps that is not the case. Maybe we should consider the idea that this terrestrial civilization was indeed an aquatic or semi-aquatic race. Perhaps they evolved from something more dinosaur or reptile-like, with their civilization seemingly dying out around the same time that human civilizations (as we would understand them in terms of the Sumerians and Egyptians) began to emerge.

The Need To Keep Questioning And Venturing Down Different Paths Of Research

Maybe it is also worth considering the idea that the information, as we have discussed earlier, may have been subject to misinterpretation. Might it be that this potential aquatic, terrestrial race did not come from Sirius, but they left Earth to go to Sirius? Admittedly this is nothing more than wild speculation for this suggestion. And the potential reasons for this abandonment of the Earth could be many.

Might it be, though, that our subconscious fascination with the stars is not because of visitors to our planet in the distant past and the extraterrestrial DNA left within us, but because of a deep knowing that a race that once shared the planet with our ancestors, for reasons unknown, left the planet and headed out into space? After all, how many times have we seen suggestions that at some point in our collective futures – albeit hundreds if not thousands of years from now – humanity will have to conquer the great beyond and locate another planet in the cosmos to call home? And the reason being the environment of the planet would be no longer suitable for us.

A picture of the star Sirius

Is there more to research regarding the Dogon tribe?

Might this have been the case with this mysterious and advanced race from antiquity? Might the environment of the planet, while fine for our human ancestors, have been unsuitable for them? And their last act before departing was to kickstart the “lesser” (in terms of advanced knowledge) races of the world – humans – with the knowledge and wisdom of their experience?

While we have gone a little off track here – intentionally so – it is perhaps a good example of how research into one claim or area can spark a completely different idea. And, in turn, those ideas will spark other possibilities in the minds of others.

The Sirius Mystery – Still A Topic Of Fierce Debate

Perhaps now would be an ideal time to recall the words of Albert Einstein, who would state that “imagination was more important than knowledge” because “knowledge is limited”. What’s more, he would offer that imagination “stimulates progress” and gives “birth to evolution”.

Ultimately, while there might be drastic holes in the idea of the Sirius mystery, the fact is, just how the Dogon tribe came to understand the workings of the Sirius star system long before the modern sophisticated world – if they even did – remains a topic of fierce debate. For as many people who dismiss the claims, there are as many who subscribe to them, if only tentatively.

And we should note, that should it prove that the Dogon’s knowledge did come from Europeans, or even Griaule himself, that is not to say that the other anomalies and curiosities from the ancient world should suddenly be ignored or dismissed. There are many reasons to suspect an advanced civilization – and a global one at that – did exist in pre-history. And that the remnants and indeed the legacy of that civilization is still felt today, if only in legends and myths.

Whether that proposed civilization was of extraterrestrial origin or not, of course, is itself a matter for debate. We should remind ourselves once more that the work of Griaule did not make any actual claims of an extraterrestrial origin of this knowledge. Such claims would come afterward in the work of Young and Temple.

As is, just why Sirius was so important in the ancient world? Is it nothing more than the simple fact that it is, as we have mentioned, the brightest star in the night sky? Or might such reverence really run a lot deeper than even the most openminded of us could imagine?


1 The Sirius Mystery: Conclusive New Evidence of Alien Influence on the Origins of Humankind in the Traditions of an African Tribe, Robert Temple, ISBN 9780712 678742

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Don Opie says:

    Wrote before about aust Bill Chalker – re Cecil Mcgaun – fernvale (north nsw )incident with talking massive birds ( 4x eagle ) sighted by Cecil .
    The world news announcement ,again today ,of USA Pentagons confirmation of two navy f18 hornet incidents in (2004-2015 ) being official – confirmed – means pieces on chess board are moving
    Personally concerned with which group “ visitors “ USA is aligned with – as Paul helleyer Canada defence minister also confirmed a number of entities are very dangerous. ( potentially about entrapment – soul capture and associated “with a order through chaos “

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