Chapter Three
THE TEMPLES THAT FACED HEAVEN

 

"....The great antiquity of Stonehenge, which kept increasing as scientific knowledge about it progressed, is of course what troubles most scientists; and it is primarily the dates of construction ascertained for Stonehenge I and II + III that have led archaeologists to seek Mediterranean visitors, and eminent scholars to allude to ancient gods, as the only possible explanations for the enigma.

"....The father of the science of archaeoastronomy - though he preferred to call it astro-archaeology, which better conveys what he had in mind - was undoubtedly Sir Norman Lockyer.

"....It struck him, he wrote, that it was truly remarkable that in Babylonia "from the beginning of things the sign for God was a star" and that likewise in Egypt, in the hieroglyphic texts, three stars represented the plural term "gods." Babylonian records on clay tablets and burned clay bricks, he noted, appeared to deal with regular cycles of "moon and planet positions with extreme accuracy." Planets, stars and the constellations of the zodiac are represented in the walls of Egyptian tombs and on papyruses. In the Hindu pantheon, he observed, we find the worship of the Sun and of the Dawn: the name of the god Indra meaning "The Day Brought by the Sun" and that of the goddess Ushas meaning "Dawn."

"Can astronomy be of assistance to Egyptology? he wondered; can it help define the measure of Egyptian and Babylonian antiquity?

"When one considers the Hindu Rigveda and Egyptian inscriptions from an astronomical point of view, Lockyer wrote, "one is struck by the fact that in both, the early worship and all the early observations related to the horizon."

"....Since the most regular phenomenon observable on the horizon was the rising and setting of the Sun on a daily basis, it was natural to make this the basis of ancient astronomical observations, and to relate other phenomena (such as the appearance of movements of planets and even stars) to their "heliacal rising," their brief appearance on the eastern horizon as the turning Earth reaches the few moments of dawn, when the Sun begins to rise but the sky is dark enough to see the stars.

"....Studying the orientation of temples old and not so old, Lockyer found that those he called "Sun Temples" were of two kinds: those oriented according to the equinoxes and those oriented according to the solstices. Though the Sun always rises in the eastern skies and sets in the western skies, it is only on the days of the equinoxes that it rises anywhere on Earth precisely in the east, and Lockyer therefore deemed such "equinoctial" temples to be more universal than those whose axis was oriented according to the solstices; because the angle formed by the northern and southern (to an observer in the northern hemisphere, the summer and winter) solstices depended on where the observer was - his latitude. Therefore, "solstitial" temples were more individual, specific for their geographic location (and even elevation).

"As examples of equinoctial temples Lockyer cited the Temple of Zeus at Baalbeck, the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and the great basilica of St. Peterís in the Vatican in Rome - all oriented on a precise east-west axis. Regarding the latter he quoted studies on church architecture that described how at the old St. Peterís (begun under Constantine in the fourth century and torn down early in the sixteenth century), on the day of the vernal equinox, "the great doors of the porch of the quadriporticus were opened at sunrise, and also the eastern doors of the church, and as the sun rose, its rays passed through the outer doors, then through the inner doors, and penetrating straight through the nave, illuminated the High Altar." Lockyer added that "the present church fulfills the same conditions."

Views from St.Peterís Basilica; Rome, Italy. On left photo, Tiber River shows, and "Conziliazione Avenue."

"As examples of "solstitial" Sun Temples Lockyer described the principal Chinese "Temple of Heaven" in Peking, where "the most important of all state observances in China, the sacrifice performed in the open air at the south altar of the Temple of Heaven," was held on the day of the winter solstice, December 21; and the structure of Stonehenge, oriented to the summer solstice.

Temple of Heaven, Peking (Beijing)

Outer wall of Altar of Heaven

"All that was, however, just a prelude to Lockyerís main studies, in Egypt.

"Studying the orientation of Egyptís ancient temples, Lockyer concluded that the older ones were "equinoctial" and the later ones "solstitial." He was amazed to discover that earlier temples revealed greater astronomical sophistication than later ones, for they were intended to observe and venerate not only the rising and setting of the Sun, but also of stars. Moreover, the earliest shrine suggested a mixed Sun-Moon worship that shifted to an equinoctial, i.e. Sun, focus. That equinoctial shrine, he wrote, was the temple in Heliopolis ("City of the Sun" in Greek) whose Egyptian name Annu, was also mentioned in the Bible as On. Lockyer calculated that the combination of solar observations with the period of the bright star Sirius and with the annual rising of the Nile, a triple conjunction on which the Egyptian time reckoning Point Zero was circa 3200 B.C.

"The Annu shrine, it is known from Egyptian inscriptions, held the Ben-Ben ("Pyramidion-Bird"), claimed to have been the actual conical upper part of the "Celestial Barge" in which the god Ra had come to Earth from the "Planet of Millions of Years." This object, usually kept in the templeís inner sanctum, was put in public display once a year, and pilgrimages to the shrine to view and venerate the sacred object continued into dynastic times. The object itself has vanished over the millennia; but a stone replica thereof has been found, showing the great god visible through the doorway or hatch of the capsule. The legend of the Phoenix, the mythical bird that dies and resurrects after a certain period, has also been traced to this shrine and its veneration.


"....While this shrine has not survived the millennia, what may have been another later shrine modeled after the Heliopolitan one has been found by archaeologists. It is the so called Solar Temple of the Pharaoh Ne-user-Ra of the fifth dynasty that lasted from 2494 to 2345 B.C. Built at a place now called Abusir, just south of Giza and its great pyramids, it consisted primarily of a large raised terrace upon which, within a great enclosure, there stood on a massive platform a

ABUSIR; EGYPT

thick, short obelisk-like object. A ramp surmounted by a covered corridor lighted by evenly spaced windows in the ceiling, connected the templeís elaborate entrance with a monumental gateway in the valley below. The sloping base of the obelisk-like rose some sixty-five feet above the level of the templeís court; the obelisk, which may have been sheathed with gilded copper, rose another 120 feet.

Mr. Sitchin explains the orientation, both equinoctial and solstitial, of the Solar Temple in Abusir in detail in his book. He also mentions:

"....The equinoctial orientation of the temple proper and the solstitial one of the corridor, bespeaking the movements of the Sun, led Egyptologists to apply to the structure the term "Sun Temple." They found reinforcement in this designation in the discovery of a "solar boat" (partly carved out of the rock and partly built of dried and painted bricks) buried under the sands just south of the temple enclosure. Hieroglyphic texts dealing with the measurement of time and the calendar in ancient Egypt held that the celestial bodies traversed the skies in boats. Often, the gods or even the deified pharaohs (having joined the gods in the Afterlife) were depicted in such boats, sailing above the firmament of the skies that was held up at the four corner points.

Barque of Cheop, in display at Solar Boat Museum, Egypt

Egyptian Solar Boat on display in Museum at Giza.

A Mural, from Burial Tomb of a Queen

Mr. Sitchin explains the details in his book, of one or two more examples of temples who had emulated the pyramidion-on-platform concept of the Ne-user-Ra "Sun Temple," one of Pharaoh Mentuhotep I; and six centuries later, another addition from Tuthmosis III and Queen Hatshepsut, which orientation was similar but not exactly so.

Ramp leading to the Temple of Hatshepsut above.
Pylon at the Temple of Tuthmosis III and Hutshepsut; Deir el Bahari left

"It was at Thebes (Karnak) that Lockyer made his most important discovery, one that laid the foundation for archaeoastronomy.

"The sequence of chapters, facts, and arguments in The Dawn of Astronomy reveals that Lockyerís route to Karnak and Egyptian temples passed through the European evidence. There was the Orientation of the Old St. Peterís in Rome and the information about the beam of sunlight at the spring equinox sunrise; and there was St. Peterís Square (a woodcut drawing of which Lockyer included), with its startling similarities to Stonehenge ...

Lockyer, found similarities between St. Peterís Square (above) and Stonehenge (below).

Lockyer also observed the Parthenon, Athens

"He looked at the Parthenon in Athens, Greeceís principal shrine and found that, "there is the old Parthenon, a building which may have been standing at the time of the Trojan war, and the new Parthenon, with an outer court like the Egyptian temples but with its sanctuary more nearly in the center of the building. It was by the difference of direction of these two temples at Athens that my attention was called to the subject."

"He had in front of him drawings of the layout plans of various Egyptian temples where orientations seemed to vary from early to later buildings, and was struck by an obvious one in two back-to-back temples at a site not far from Thebes called Medinet-Habu and pointed out the similarity between this Egyptian and the Greek "difference of orientation" in temples that, from a purely architectural aspect, should have been parallel and with the same axial orientation.

"Could the slightly altered orientation result from changes in the amplitude (the position in the skies) of the Sun or stars caused by the changes in the Earthís obliquity? he wondered, and felt that the answer was Yes.

"....Lockyer masterful innovation was this: by determining the orientation of a temple and its geographic longitude, it was possible to calculate the obliquity that prevailed at the time of construction; and by determining the changes in obliquity over millennia, it was possible to conclude with sufficient certainty when the temple was constructed.

"The Table of Obliquity, fined-tuned and made more accurate during the past century, shows the change in the angle of the Earthís tilt in five hundred-year intervals going back from the present 23ļ 27í (about 23.5 degrees):

  • 500 B.C. about 23.75 degrees

  • 1000 B.C.   "    23.81    "

  • 1500 B.C.   "    23.87    "

  • 2000 B.C.   "    23.92    "

  • 2500 B.C.   "    23.97    "

  • 3000 B.C.   "    24.02    "

  • 3500 B.C.   "    24.07    "

  • 4000 B.C.   "    24.11    "

"Lockyer applied his findings primarily at the great temple to Amon-Ra in Karnak.

Views of the Great Temple To Amon

"....Indeed, further archaeological discoveries at Karnak corroborate Lockyerís principal innovation - that the orientation of the temples changed in time to reflect the changes in obliquity. Therefore, the orientation could serve as a clue to the templeís time of construction....

Mr. Sitchin explains several points, including the date of construction for the oldest part of the Great Temple at circa 2100 B.C, with:

"repairs, demolitions, and rebuilding then continued through the ensuing centuries by pharaohs of subsequent dynasties; two obelisks were set up by pharaohs of the XVIII dynasty. The final phase took shape under Pharaoh Seti II of the XIX dynasty who reigned in 1216-1210 B.C. - all as Lockyer had determined."

 

"Archaeoastronomy - or, astro-archaeology as Sir Norman Lockyer named it proved its merit and validity.

"At the beginning of this century Lockyer turned his attention to Stonehenge.

"....presented his conclusions in Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments (1906); they can be summed up in one drawing. It assumes an axis that begins at the Altar Stone, passes between the sarsen stones numbered 1 and 30, down the Avenue, toward the Heel Stone as the focusing pillar. The obliquity angle indicated by such an axis led him to suggest that Stonehenge was built in 1680 B.C. Needless to say, such an early date was quite sensational at the time, a century ago, when scholars still thought of Stonehenge in terms of King Arthurís days.

Mr. Sitchin explains at this point in his book, the dates for the earlier phases of Stonehenge, which:

"As the drawing shows" (Lockyerís), "he did not rule out a much earlier date for the prior phases of Stonehenge, this too compares well with the presently accepted date of 2900/2800 B.C. for Stonehenge I.

Phase III

which we see today

The Heel Stone appears in the distance between the center of the sarsen stones, Stonehenge.

 

"....Archaeoastronomy thus joins archaeological findings and radiocarbon dating to arrive at the same dates for the construction of the various phases of Stonehenge, the three separate methods corroborating each other. With such a convincing determination of Stonehenge's dates, the question regarding the builders becomes more poignant. Who, circa 2900/2800 B.C., possessed the knowledge of astronomy (to say nothing of engineering and architecture) to build such a calendrical "computer," and circa 2100/2000 B.C. to rearrange the various components thereof and attain a new realignment? And why was such a realignment required or desired?

"....If, as all agree, the sophisticated scientific knowledge that was required for the planning, sitting, orientation, and construction of Stonehenge had to come from outside the British Isles, the earlier civilizations of the near East seem to be the only sources for such knowledge at the time.

"Were the Sun Temples of Egypt, then, the prototypes for Stonehenge?  We have seen that at the dates established for Stonehengeís various phases, there already existed in Egypt elaborate temples that were astronomically oriented. The equinoctial Sun Temple at Heliopolis was built at about the time, 3100 B.C., when kingship began in Egypt (if not somewhat earlier) - several centuries before Stonehenge I. The construction of the oldest phase of the solstitially oriented temple to Amon-Ra in Karnak took place circa 2100 B.C. - a date coinciding (perhaps not by chance) with the date for the "remodeling" of Stonehenge.

"....From the beginning of dynastic times in Egypt, with which the appearance of a distinct Egyptian civilization is linked, it was the pharaohs of Egypt who had hired the architects and masons, the priests and the savants, and decreed the planning and construction of the marvelous stone edifices of ancient Egypt. None of them, however, appears to have designed, oriented, and built a circular temple.

"What about those famous seafarers, the Phoenicians? Not only did they reach the British Isles (mainly in search of tin) too late to have built not just Stonehenge I but also the II and III phases, but none of their temple architecture bears any resemblance to the emphatically circular essence of Stonehenge.... On the vast platform at Baalbeck in the Lebanon mountains, people after people and conquerors after conquerors built their temples precisely on the ruins and according to the layout of preceding temples. These, as the later extant ruins from the Roman era reveal, represented a rectangular temple (black area) (details shown on book) with a square forecourt (the diamond-shaped entrance pavillion is a purely Roman addition). The temple is clearly oriented on an east-west axis, facing directly east toward the Sun at sunrise - an equinoctial temple. This should perhaps be no surprise, since in ancient times this site too was called "City of the Sun" - Heliopolis by the Greeks, Beth-Shemesh ("House of the Sun") in the Bible, in King Solomonís time.

The "diamond" shape (hexagonal), added by the 

Romans, Baalbeck

View of the Temple from the "Diamond" shape

"That the rectangular shape and east-west axis were not a passing fad in Phoenicia is further evidenced by the Temple of Solomon, the first temple of Jerusalem, which was built with the help of Phoenician architects provided by Ahiram, king of Tyre; it was a rectangular structure on an east-west axis, facing eastward, built upon a large man-made platform.

"....Circles do appear, though, in the case of the other Mediterranean "suspects" - the Mycenaeans, the first Hellenic people of ancient Greece. But these were at first what archaeologists call Grave Circles - burial pits surrounded by a circle of stones that evolved into circular tombs hidden beneath a conical mound of soil. But that had taken place circa 1500 B.C., and the largest of them, called the Treasury of Atreus because of the golden artifacts that were found around the dead, dates to circa 1300 B.C.
Archaeologists who adhere to the Mycenaean connection compare such eastern Mediterranean burial mounds to Silbury Hill in the Stonehenge area or to one of Newgrange, across the Irish Sea in Boyne Valley, County Meath, in Ireland; but Silbury Hill has been determined by carbon dating to have been constructed no later than 2200 B.C. and the burial ground at Newgrange at about the same time - almost a thousand years before the Treasury of Atreus and other Mycenaean examples; the period of the Mycenaean burial mounds, moreover, is even further removed from the time of Stonehenge I. In fact, the burial mounds in the British Isles are much more akin, in construction and in timing, to such mounds in the western rather than eastern Mediterranean, such as the one in Los Millares in southern Spain.

"Above all, Stonehenge has never served as a burial place. For all these reasons, the search for a prototype - a circular structure serving astronomical purposes - should continue beyond the eastern Mediterranean.

KING SOLOMONíS TEMPLE

Circular Graves at Mycenae

Silbury Hill, in the Stonehenge area.

Circular Grave at Newgrange. Ireland

 

Threshold Stone at entrance

"Older than the Egyptian civilization and possessing much more advanced scientific knowledge, the Sumerian civilization could have served, theoretically, as the fountainhead for Stonehenge. Among the outstanding Sumerian achievements were great cities, a written language, literature, schools, kings, courts, laws, judges, merchants, craftsmen, poets, dancers. The sciences flourished within the temples where the "secrets on numbers and of the heavens" - of mathematics and astronomy - were kept, taught, and transmitted by generations of priests who performed their functions within walled-off sacred compounds. Such compounds usually included shrines dedicated to various deities, residences, work and study places for the priests, storehouses and other administrative buildings, and - as the dominant, principal, and most prominent feature of the sacred precinct and of the city itself - a ziggurat, a pyramid that rose sky high in stages (usually seven). The topmost stage was a multichambered structure that was intended - literally - to be the residence of the great god whose "cult center" (as scholars like to call it) the city was.

"A good illustration of the layout of such a sacred precinct with its ziggurat is a reconstruction based on archaeological discoveries at the sacred precinct of Nippur (NI.IBRU in Sumerian), the "headquarters" from the earlier days of the god Enlil.... As luck would have it, archaeologists have also unearthed a clay tablet upon which an ancient cartographer drew a map of Nippur; it clearly shows the rectangular sacred precinct with the square-based ziggurat.... The orientation of the ziggurat and the temples was such that the corners of the structures pointed to the four cardinal points of the compass, so that the sides of the structure faced to the northeast, southwest, northwest, and southeast.

"....It was an orientation that it made it possible to scan the heavens in many directions and angles.... the line between the east-pointing and west-pointing corners provided the equinoctial orientation; the sides gave solstitial views to either sunrise or sunset, at both summer and winter solstices. Modern astronomers have found many of these observational orientations in the famed ziggurat of Babylon, whose precise measurements and building plans were found spelled out on clay tablets.

"Square or rectangular structures, with precise right angles, were the traditional shape of Mesopotamian ziggurats and temples, whether one looks at the sacred precinct of Ur at the time of Abraham circa 2100 B.C., the time of Stonehenge II - or goes back to one of the earliest temples built on a raised platform, as the White Temple at Eridu that dates to about 3100 B.C. - two or three centuries before the date of Stonehenge I.

Mesopotamian Ziggurats. Above is a ruin from UR, todayís Iraq. On the right, a ruined Ziggurat from todayís Iran.

"The deliberate manner in which the Mesopotamian temples, at all times, were given the rectangular shape and specific orientation can be easily inferred from the layout on Babylon by comparing the haphazard meshing of buildings and alleys in cities in Babylonian times with the straight and geometrically perfect layout of the sacred precinct of Babylon and the square shape of its ziggurat.

"....In case someone wonders whether this was because the Sumerians and their successors were unfamiliar with the circle or unable to construct one, suffice it to point out that in mathematical tablets certain key number of the sexagesimal ("base 60") system were represented by circles; in tablets dealing with geometry and land measurement, instructions were given for measuring regular- and irregular-shaped areas, including circles. The round wheel was known - another Sumerian "first." Obviously circular residential houses were found in the ruins of early cities; a sacred precinct was sometimes surrounded by an oval-forming wall. It is clear that avoiding a well-known circular shape for temples was deliberate.

"There were thus basic design, architecture, and orientation differences between Sumerian temples and Stonehenge, to which one could add the fact that the Sumerians were not stonemasons (there being no stone quarries in the alluvial plain between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers). The Sumerians were not the ones who planned and erected Stonehenge; and the only instance that can be considered an exception to discoveries and Sumerian temples, as we shall see, reinforces this conclusion.

"So, if not the Egyptians or Phoenicians or early Greeks, if not the Sumerians and their successors in Mesopotamia - who then came to the plain of Salisbury to plan and supervise the creation of Stonehenge?

 

TUMULUS, at Newgrange

"An interesting clue emerges as one reads the legends concerning the tumulus of Newgrange. According to Michael J. OíKelly, a leading architect and explorer of the site and its surroundings (Newgrange: Archaeology, Art and Legend), the site was known in early Irish lore by various names that all designated it as Burg Oengusa, the "House of Oengus," son of the chief god of the pre-Celtic pantheon who had come to Ireland from "the Otherworld." That chief god was known as An Dagda, "An, the good god."

"It is indeed amazing to find the name of the principal deity of the ancient world in all these diverse places - in Sumer and his E.ANNA ziggurat of Uruk; in the Egyptian Heliopolis, whose true name was Annu; and in far-removed Ireland.

"That this might be an important clue and not just an insignificant coincidence becomes possible when we examine the name of the son of this "chief god," Oengus. When the Babylonian priest Berossus wrote, circa 290 B.C., the history and prehistory of Mesopotamia and Mankind according to the Sumerian and Babylonian records, he (or the Greek savants who copied from his works) spelled the name of Enki "Oannes." Enki was the leader of the first group of Anunnaki to splash down to Earth, in the Persian Gulf; he was the chief scientist of the Anunnaki and the one who inscribed all knowledge on the MEís, enigmatic objects that, with our present knowledge, one could compare to computer memory discs. He was indeed a son of Anu; was he then the god who in pre-Celtic myth became Oengus, the son of An Daga?

""All that we know, we were taught by the gods," the Sumerians repeatedly stated.

"Was it, then, not the ancient peoples, but the ancient gods who created Stonehenge?

Return

 

 

Chapter Four
DUR.AN.KI - THE "BOND HEAVEN-EARTH"

 

"From the earliest days, Man has lifted his eyes to the heavens for divine guidance, for inspiration, for help in trouble times.

"....From the earliest days, Man knew that his creators had come from the heavens - Anunnaki he called them, literally "Those who from Heaven to Earth Came." Their true abode was in the heavens, Man always knew: "Father who art in heaven," Man knew to say. But those of the Anunnaki who had come and stayed on Earth, Man also knew, could be worshipped in the temples.

"Man and his gods met in the temples, and the knowledge and rituals and beliefs that resulted are called Religion.

"The most important "cult center," the "navel of the earth," was Enlilís city in what was later Sumer. Central religiously, philosophically, and actually, that city, Nippur, was the Mission control Center; and its Holy of Holies, where the Tablets of Destinies were kept, was called DUR.AN.KI - "Bond Heaven-Earth."

"And ever since, at all times and in all places and in all religions, the places of worship that are called temples, in spite of all the changes that they, and Mankind and its religions have undergone, have remained the Bond Heaven-Earth.

"....In those days each of the Great Anunnaki was assigned a celestial counterpart, and since the Solar System had twelve members, the "Olympic Circle," throughout the millennia and up to and including Greek time, was always made up of twelve. It was thus that the worship of the gods was closely associated with the motions of the celestial bodies, and the biblical admonitions against the worship of "the Sun, the Moon and the Host of Heaven" were in reality against the worship of gods other than Yahweh.


"The rituals, festivals, days of abstinence, and other rites, that expressed the worship of the gods were thus attuned to the motions of the godís celestial counterparts. Worship required a calendar, temples were observatories; priests were astronomers. The ziggurats were Temples of Time, where time-keeping joined astronomy to formalize worship.

"Thus, according to the Bible (Genesis 4:25-26), did the children of Adam begin to worship their God. How this calling in the name of the Lord was done - what form the worship took, what rituals were involved - we are not told. It happened, the Bible makes clear, in remote times, well before the Deluge. Sumerian texts, however, throw light on the subject. They not only assert - repeatedly and emphatically - that there were Cities of the Gods in Mesopotamia before the Deluge, and that when the Deluge had occurred there had already been "demigods" (offspring of "Daughters of Man" by male Anunnaki "gods"), but also that the worship took place in consecrated places (we call them "temples"). They were already, we learn from the earliest texts, Temples of Time.

"....In time, Mankind began to upset Enlil ("Son of the Command" a son of Anu), by its excessive "conjugations," especially with the Anunnaki (a situation reflected in the biblical version of the Deluge tale); and Enlil prevailed on the Great Anunnaki, in their Council, to use the foreseen catastrophe of the avalanche of water to wipe mankind off the face of the Earth.

"....But Enki ("Lord of Earth," another important son of Anu), though he joined in swearing to keep the decision a secret from Mankind, was not happy with the decision and sought ways to frustrate it. He chose to achieve that through the intermediary of Atra-Hasis, a son of Enki by a human mother. The text, which at times assumes a biographical style by Atra-Hasis himself, quotes him saying, "I am Atra-Hasis; I lived in the temple of Enki my lord" - a statement which clearly establishes the existence of a temple in those remote pre-Diluvial times.

"Describing the worsening climatic conditions on the one hand and Enlilís harsh measures against Mankind on the other hand in the period preceding the Deluge, the text quotes Enkiís advice to the people through Atra-Hasis how to protest against Enlilís decrees: the worship of the gods should stop!

"Enki opened his mouth and addressed his servant," saying thus to him:

The elders, on a sign,
summon to the House of Council.
Let heralds proclaim a command
loudly throughout the land:
Do not reverence your gods,
do not pray to your goddesses.

"As the situation got worse and the catastrophe day neared, Atra-Hasis persisted in his intercession with his god Enki.... In the end Enki decided to subvert the decision of the Council of the Anunnaki by summoning Atra-Hasis to the temple and speaking to him from behind a screen.... giving him instructions to build a submersible.... To make sure Atra-Hasis wasted no time, Enki put into motion a clocklike device:

He opened the water clock
and filled it;
the coming of the flood on the seventh night
he marked off for him.

"....Enki was the chief scientist of the Anunnaki; it is no wonder, therefore, that it was at his temple, at this "cult center" Eridu, that the first human scientists, the Wise Men, served as priests. One of the first, if not the very first, was called Adapa. Though the original Adapa text has not been found, Akkadian and Assyrian versions on clay fragments that have been found attest the taleís significance. Informing us at the very beginning that Adapaís command of wisdom was almost as good as that of Enki himself, the text proceeds to explain that Enki had "perfected for him wide understanding, disclosing all the designs of the Earth; Wisdom he had given to him." It was all done at the temple; Adapa, we are told, "daily did attend the sanctuary of Eridu."

"According to Sumerian chronicles of the earlier times, it was at Eriduís temple that Enki, as guardian of the secrets of all scientific knowledge, kept the MEís - tablet-like objects on which the scientific data were inscribed.

"....Even unto millennia later, in Assyrian times, the saying "Wise as Adapa" meant that someone was exceedingly wise and knowledgeable. The study of sciences was often referred in Mesopotamian texts as Shunnat apkati Adapa, "recital/repetition of the great forefather Adapa." A letter by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, mentioned that his grandfather Sennacherib, was given great knowledge when Adapa had appeared to him in a dream. The "wide knowledge" imparted by Enki to Adapa included writing, medicine and - according to the astronomical series of tablets UD.SAR.ANUM.ENLILLA ("The Great Days of Anu and Enlil") - knowledge of astronomy and astrology.

"....At the core of these sciences was a mathematical system called sexagesimal ("Base Sixty") whose advanced nature, including its celestial aspects, has already been discussed. Such sophistication existed even in the earliest times that some call predynastic: arithmetically inscribed tablets that have been found attest the use of the sexagesimal system and of numerical record keeping. Designs on clay objects also from the earliest times leave no doubt regarding the high level of knowledge of geometry in those remote times, six thousand years ago.

Indus Valley; the land "alloted to Ishtar" this pattern comes from a tomb in Pakistan.

 

Left: Nineveh and Persia

.

 

Ruins of marble, ancient temple in Malta

"....In the aftermath of the Deluge, when the plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers dried sufficiently to enable resettlement, the Cities of the Gods were rebuilt exactly where they had been, according to the "olden plan." Kish, the first City of Men was entirely new and its place and layout had to be determined. These decisions, we read in the Tale of Etana, were made by the gods. Employing scientific knowledge of geometry for layout and astronomy for orientation,

The gods traced out a city;
Seven gods laid its foundations,
The City of Kish they traced out
and there the seven gods had its foundation.
A city they established, a dewlling place;
but a Shepherd they withheld.

"The twelve rulers at Kish who had preceded Etana were not yet given the Sumerian royal-priestly title EN.SI - "Lordy Shepherd" or as some prefer "Righteous Shepherd." The city, it appears, could attain this status only when the gods could find the right man to build a ziggurat stage-temple there and, by becoming a king-priest be given the title EN.SI.

"....The task to "look for a king in all the lands, above and below," was assigned to Inanna/Ishtar. She found and recommended Etana - a humble shepherd.... Enlil, "he who grants kingship," had to make the actual appointment. We read that "Enlil inspected Etana, the young man who Ishtar had nominated. íShe sought and she found!í he cried. íIn the land shall kingship be establish; let the heart of Kish be glad!í"

The Tale of Etana explains that he went to the Abode of Anu to be taught; it also explains the impression of Etana seeing the Earth becoming smaller and smaller as the growing distance was being measured by the "beru," unit of measurement, by the "double-hour" a measurement of time, as he ascended to heaven. Mr. Sitchin makes the point:

"....What the text makes clear is that at that remote time, when the first Shepherd King was enthroned in the first City of men, distance, time, and the heavens could already be measured.

"Since all the major gods of ancient Mesopotamia had celestial counterparts from among the twelve members of the Solar System, as well as a counterpart from the twelve constellations of the zodiac and from the twelve months, one must wonder whether the reference to the determination of the orientation of Kish and its ziggurat by the "seven gods" did not actually mean by the seven planets which those deities represented. Were the Anunnaki waiting for the propitious alignment of seven planets as the right time and right orientation for Kish and its ziggurat?

"Further light, we believe, can be shed on the subject by journeying in time over more than two thousand years to Judea circa 1000 B.C. Incredibly, we find that about three thousand years ago the circumstances surrounding the selection of a shepherd to be the builder of a new temple in a new royal capital emulated the event and circumstances recorded in the Tale of Etana; and the same number seven, with a calendrical significance, also played a role.

"The Judean city where the ancient drama (Tale of Etana) was reenacted was Jerusalem. David who was shepherding the flocks of his father Jesse the Bethlemite was chosen by the Lord for kingship....

"....A principal preoccupation of the Israelites at that time was the need to find a home for the Ark of the Covenant - not just a permanent home, but also a safe one. Originally placed by Moses in the Tent of Appointment during the Exodus, it contained the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Made with specific wood and overlaid with gold both inside and outside, it was surrounded by two Cherubim made of hardened gold with wings extended toward each other; and each time Moses had an appointment with the Lord, Yahweh spoke to him "from between the two Cherubim...." We believe that the Ark, with its insulated gold layers and Cherubim was a communication device, perhaps electrically powered (when it was touched inadvertently, the person involved fell dead).

"Yahweh had given very detailed instructions regarding the construction of the Tent of Appointment and the enclosure for it, and for the Ark, including what amounted to an "operating manual" for the dismantling and reassembling of all that as well as for the careful transportation of the Ark. By Davidís time, however, the Ark was no longer carried by wooden staves but transported upon a wheeled carriage. It was moved from one temporary place of worship to another, and a major assignment for the newly anointed Shepherd King was to establish a new national capital in Jerusalem and therein build a permanent housing for the Ark in the "House of the Lord."

A depiction of Moses in the Tent of Appointment (Tabernacle) during Exodus, with the Ark of the Covenant

Etching of the Tabernacle in Jerusalem

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An angered Moses about to break the first set of Tablets with the Ten Commandments

"But this was not come to pass.... It was one of the very first tasks of King Solomon (King Davidís Son), to build the "House of Yahweh" (now referred as to the First Temple) in Jerusalem. Built as the sacred compound and its components in the Sinai were, it was erected in accordance with very detailed instructions. In fact, the layout plans of the two are almost identical. And both were oriented along a precise east-west axis, identifying them as equinoctial temples.

"The similarities between Kish and Jerusalem as new national capitals, a Shepherd King, and the task of building a temple whose plans were provided by the Lord is enhanced by the significance of the number seven.
 

Gibeon; it is also the place where the tale of Joshua commanding the Sun "to stand still" eventuated.

"We are informed in I Kings (chapter 3) that Solomon proceeded to organize the construction project (it involved among others in the workforce, 80,000 stone quarriers and 70,000 porters) only after Yahweh had appeared unto Solomon in Gibeon "in a nightly vision."

"....The construction, lasting seven years, began with laying the foundation stone in the fourth year of Solomonís reign, and "in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul which is the eighth month the Temple was completed in all its stipulations and exactly according to its plans." But although entirely complete with not detailed missed or omitted, the Temple was not inaugurated.

"It was only eleven months later, "in the month of Etanim, the seventh month, on the festival," that all the elders and tribal chiefs from all over assembled in Jerusalem, "and the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant with Yahweh into its place, into the Dvir of the temple which is the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the Cherubim ... and there was nothing in the Ark except the two stone tablets which Moses had placed therein in the Wilderness after Yahweh had made a covenant with the Children of Israel after they had left Egypt. And when the priests stepped out of the Holy of Holies, a cloud filled the House of Yahweh...."

"....The long postponement in the inauguration of the temple was required, it appears, so that it would take place "in the seventh month, on the festival." There can be no doubt that the festival referred to was the New Yearís festival, in accordance with the commandments concerning holy days and festivals pronounced in the biblical Book of Leviticus.... chapter 23 states: the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath is just the first of holy days to be held in intervals of multiples of seven days or that were to last seven days, culminating with the festivals of the seventh month: New Yearís Day, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths.

"In Mesopotamia by that time Babylon and Assyria had supplanted Sumer, and the New Year was celebrated - as the monthís name indicated - in the first month called Nissan, which coincided with the equinox.

"The reasons why the Israelites were commanded to celebrate autumnal equinox, remain unexplained in the Bible. But we may find a clue in the fact that the biblical narrative does not call this by its Babylonian-Assyrian name, Tishrei, but by the enigmatic name Etanim. No satisfactory explanation for this name has been found so far; but a solution does occur to us: in view of all the above listed similarities between the king-priest as a shepherd and the circumstances of the establishment of a new capital and the construction of a residence for Yahweh in the desert and in Jerusalem, the clue to the monthís name should also be sought in the Tale of Etana. For does the name used in the Bible, Etanim, simply stem from the name Etana? The name Etan as a personal name, one may note, was not uncommon among the Hebrews, meaning "heroic, mighty."

"....It is noteworthy that in a discussion by August Wunsche of the similarities between Solomonís edifices in Jerusalem and the Mesopotamian "portrait of the heavens" (Ex Oriente Lux, vol.2) he cited the rabbinic reference - as in the Tale of Etana - to the "seven stars that indicate time" - Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, and Venus. There are thus plenty of clues and indications confirming the celestial-calendrical aspects of Solomonís Temple - aspects that link it to traditions and orientations established millennia earlier, in Sumer.

"....Walter Andrae (Des Gotteshouse und die Urformen des Bauens) pointed out that in Assyria the templeís entrance was flanked by two pylons; this was reflected in Solomonís Temple, where the entrance was flanked by two freestanding pillars.

"The detailed architectural and construction information in the Bible in respect to Solomonís Temple calls its unteroom Ulam, its ritual hall Hekhal, and its holiest part Dvir. The latter, meaning "Where the speaking takes place," no doubt reflected the fact that Yahweh spoke to Moses from the Ark of the Covenant, the voice coming from where the wings of the Cherubim were touching; and the Ark was placed in the Temple as the only artifact in the innermost enclosure, the Holy of Holies or Dvir. The terminology used for the two foreparts, scholars have recognized, comes from the Sumerian (via Akkadian): E-gal and Ulammu.

"This essential tripartite division, adopted later on elsewhere (e.g. the Zeus Temple in Olympia, or the Canaanite one at Tainat in Upper Syria), was in reality a continuation that began with the most ancient temples, the ziggurats of Sumer, where the way to the zigguratís top, via a stairway, led through two shrines, an outer shrine with two pylons in front of it, and a prayer room - as drawn by G. Martiny in his studies.

Mr. Sitchin explains the use of golden utensils for the king and how each subsequent king, especially in Mesopotamia, took the task to make listings of repairs, naming the year of their reign and the kind of repair mainly of the temples themselves, new walls, like in the case of King Hammurabi.

"....Sumerian, the Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian kings recorded in their inscriptions with great pride how they repaired, embellished, or rebuilt the sacred temples and their precincts; archaeological excavations not only uncovered such inscriptions but also corroborated the claims made therein (University of Pennsylvania, 1880s).

"....The discovery that later temples were erected upon the foundations of earlier temples in strict adherence to the original plans was reconfirmed at other ancient sites in Mesopotamia. The rule applied even to enlargement of temples - even if more than once, as was found at Eridu; in all instances the original axis and orientation had to be realigned from time to time because of the change in the Earthís tilt. Mesopotamian equinoctial temples needed no adjustment in their orientation because geographic north and geographic east, by definition, remained unchanged no matter how the Earthís tilt had changed: the sun always passed over the equator at "equinox" times, rising on such days precisely in the east.

"The obligation to adhere to the "olden plans" was spelled out in an inscription on a tablet found in Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, along the ruins of a rebuilt temple. In it the Assyrian king recorded his compliance with the sacred requirement:

The everlasting ground plan,
that which for the future
the construction determined,
[I have followed.]
It is the one which bears
the drawings from the Olden Times
and the writings of the Upper Heaven.

"....Indeed, the obligatory adherence to the earlier site, orientation, and layout of the temples in the ancient Near East, no matter how long the interval or how extensive the repairs or rebuilding had to be, is exemplified by the successive temples in Jerusalem. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.; but after Babylon fell to the Achaemenid Persian king Cyrus issued an edict permitting the return of Jewish exiles to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple by them.

Doorways in Nebuchadnezzarís Palace

The Restoration of the Templeís Vessels, under Persian Cyrusí kingship.

"The rebuilding, significantly, began with the erection of an altar (where the first one used to be) "when the seventh month commenced" i.e. on the day of the New Year (and the sacrifices continued until the Feast of Booths). Lest there be doubt about the date, the Book of Ezra (3:6) restated the date: "From the first day of the seventh month did the sacrifices to Yahweh commence."

"The adherence not only to the location and orientation of the temple but also to the time of the New Year - an indication of the calendrical aspect of the temple - is reaffirmed in the prophecies of Ezequiel.

Ezequiel had a vision in which he was given the precise orientation for the new temple, as it had been with the temple Solomon had built.

"The prophetic vision became a reality after the Persian king Cyrus, having defeated and captured Babylon, issued an edict proclaiming the restoration of the destroyed temples throughout the Babylonian empire.... A special royal proclamation, recorded word for word in the Book of Ezra, called on the Jewish exiles to rebuild the "House of Yahweh, God of Heaven."

"The Second Temple, built under difficult conditions in what was still a devastated land, was a poor imitation of the First Temple. Rebuilt a part at a time, it was constructed according to plans received from records kept in the Persian royal archives and, the Bible asserts, in strict conformity with the details in the Five Books of Moses. That the Temple indeed followed the original layout and orientation became clearer some five centuries later, when King Herod decided to replace the poor replica with a new, splendid edifice that would not just match, but even surpass, in grandeur the First Temple. Built on an enlarged great platform (still known as the Temple Mount) and its massive walls (of which the Western Wall, still largely intact, is revered by Jews as the extant remnant of the Holy Temple), it was surrounded by courtyards and various auxiliary buildings. But the House of the Lord proper retained the tripartite layout and orientation of the first Temple.

The huge Platform at Temple Mount; the Old City in the view.

The Western Wall

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A Model at an Hotel in Israel, of the Temple King Herod reconstructed.

"As one views the remains of the immense sacred precincts with their temples and shrines and service buildings, courtyards and gates, and, in the innermost section, the Ziggurat, it should be borne in mind that the very first temples were the actual abodes of the gods and were literally called the godís "E" - the godís actual "House." Begun as structures atop artificial mounds and raised platforms, they in time evolved to become the famed ziggurats (step-pyramids) - the skyscrapers of antiquity. As an artistís drawing shows, the deityís actual residence was in the topmost stage. There, seated on their thrones under a canopy, the gods would grant audiences to their chosen king, the "Shepherd of Men."

"....Circa 2300 B.C. a high priestess, the daughter of Sargon of Akkad, collected all the hymns to the ziggurat-temples of her time. Called by Sumerologists "a unique Sumerian literary composition" (A. Sjoberg and E. Bergmann in Texts From Cuneiform Sources, vol. 3), the text pays homage to forty-two "E" temples, from Eridu in the south to Sippar in the north and on both sides of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

"....The composition appropriately begins with Enkiís ziggurat-temple in Eridu, called in the hymn "place whose Holy of Holies is the foundation of Heaven-Earth," for Eridu was the first City of the Gods, the first outpost of the first landing of the Anunnaki (led by Enki), and the first divine city opened up to Earthlings to become also a City of Men.

Views from the Palace of Sargon of Akkad, whose daughter was inspired to take record of all the ziggurat-temples of her time.
Transporting wood by boat, upper right; a worshipper, upper left; depiction of Sargon, above.
 

"This hymn was followed by one to the E.KUR - "House which is like a mountain" - the ziggurat of Enlil in Nippur.... It was a "shrine where destinies are determined," a ziggurat "which bonds heaven and earth." In Nippur Ninlil, Enlilís spouse, had her separate temple, "clad in awesome brilliance." From it the goddess appeared "in the month of the New Year, on the day of the festival, wonderfully adorned."

"The half sister of Enki and Enlil, Ninharsag, who was among the first Anunnaki to come to Earth and was their chief biologist and medical officer, had her temple at the city called Kesh. Simply called E.NINHARSAG. "House of the Lady of the Mountainpeak," it was described as a ziggurat whose "bricks are well molded ... a place of Heaven and Earth, an awe inspiring place" which apparently was adorned with "a great poisonous snake" made of lapis lazuli - the symbol of medicine and healing. (Moses, it will be recalled, made an image of a serpent to stop a killing plague in the Sinai desert).

"The god Ninurta, Enlilís Foremost son by his half sister Ninharsag, who had a ziggurat in his own "cult center," Lagash, had at the time of the composition of this text also a temple in the sacred precinct of Nippur, it was called E.ME.UR.ANNA, "House of the MEís of Anuís Hero." In Lagash, the ziggurat was called E.NINNU, "House of Fifty," reflecting the numerical rank in the divine hierarchy (Anuís rank, sixty, was the highest).

"It was, the hymn stated, a "House filled with radiance and awe, grown high like a mountain," in which Ninurtaís "Black Bird," his flying machine, and his Sharur weapon ("the raging storm which envelopes men") were housed.

"Enlilís firstson by his official spouse, Ninlil, was Nannar (later known as Sin), who was associated with the Moon as his celestial counterpart. His ziggurat, in Ur, was called E.KISH.NU.GAL, a "House of Thirty, the great seed" and was described as a temple "whose beaming moonlight comes forth in the land" - all references to Nannar/Sinís celestial association with the Moon and the month.

"Nannar/Sinís son, Utu/Shamash (his celestial counterpart was the Sun) had his temple in Sippar, the E.BABBAR - "House of the Bright One" or "Bright House." It was described as "House of the prince of heaven, a heavenly star who from the horizon, fills the earth from heaven." His twin sister, Inanna/Ishtar, whose celestial counterpart was the planet Venus, had her ziggurat temple in the city Zabalam, where it was called "House full of brightness"; it was described as a "pure mountain," a "shrine whose mouth opens at dawn" and one "through which the firmament is made beautiful at night" - undoubted reference to the double role of Venus as an evening, as well as a morning "star." Inanna/Ishtar was also worshipped in Erech, where Anu had put at her disposal the ziggurat-temple built for him when he had come to Earth for a visit. The ziggurat was called E.NANNA, simply "House of Anu." The hymn described it as a "ziggurat of seven stages, surveying the seven luminary gods of the night" - a reference to its alignment and astronomical aspects that was echoed as we have noted earlier, in rabbinic comments regarding the Jerusalem temple.

"Thus did the composition go on, on portraying the 42 ziggurats, their glories, and celestial associations. Scholars speak of this association from more than 4,300 years ago as a "collection of Sumerian temple hymns" and title it "The Cycle of Old Sumerian Poems about the Great Temples." It may however be much more appropriate to follow the Sumerian custom and call the text by its opening words:

E.U NIR       House-ziggurat rising high
AN.KI DA    Heaven-Earth joining.

"One of those Houses and its sacred precinct, as we shall see, hold a key that can unlock the Stonehenge enigma and the events of that timeís New Age.

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