Did Ancient Astronauts Visit the Dogon People?

01 Feb 2023

Did ancient astronauts visit the Dogon people?

Many civilisations throughout history have had insightful knowledge of the world around them, even extending to the stars. But sometimes, a particular culture knows more than seems likely, leading you to wonder – how did they know that? In this article, we’ll look at the story of Mali’s Dogon people and their unlikely knowledge of the stars.

In today’s information age, so much of what we read is misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories. It’s understandably easy to dismiss anything that sounds too fanciful. But every now and then, a crazy-sounding story turns out to have a foundation of truth. The Dogon’s story and their incredible astronomy knowledge might be one such story. So as far-fetched as it may sound, did ancient astronauts visit the Dogon people?

Who Are the Dogon People?

The Dogon are an ethnic group living in Mali’s central region and across the border into neighbouring Burkina Faso. Their history dates back over a thousand years when they relocated to an area near Mali’s Bandiagara Escarpment after refusing to convert to Islam.

Living in relative isolation, the Dogon developed an incredibly rich and unique culture. Their society comprises distinct religious beliefs and stories of creation, along with fascinating art and various language dialects.

The Dogon people, an ethnic group of people living in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Hisashi Yuya, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hisashi Yuya, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Contacting the Dogon

In the 1930s and 40s, French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen visited the Dogon people several times. They aimed to learn more about their society and document the people’s history and beliefs, which had largely been passed on orally until that point. During their visits in the 1940s, the anthropologists uncovered peculiar details about the Dogon’s religious beliefs and their apparently extraordinary astronomical knowledge.

What Astronomy Did the Dogon People Know?

Griaule frequently met with Ogotemmeli, a Dogan hogon or spiritual leader. During their discussions, Ogotemmeli spoke of various cosmological features, including the moons of Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, and the knowledge that the Sun is at the centre of the solar system. Interestingly, he claimed that they had known this information for hundreds of years – before even Gallileo’s observations with early telescopes.

Ogotemmeli also made several assertions about Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. He correctly stated that Sirius had a companion star (Sirius B). However, Ogotemmeli also declared that there was a second, smaller and much dimmer companion star. Curiously, gravitational studies completed in the 1990s suggested there was a possibility that an undiscovered brown dwarf was in the Sirius system, which would corroborate the apparent beliefs of the Dogon. However, further studies have revealed no evidence of this hypothetical Sirius C.

The Sirius Star System, with Sirius A and the smaller Sirius B stars.

NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Who Are the Nommo?

During Griaule’s conversations, Ogotemmeli discussed details from the Dogon’s creation beliefs. He referred to the Nommo, who he claimed were the first creatures created by Amma, the Dogan sky god. Interestingly, Ogotemmeli stated that the Nommo originated from a planet in the Sirius system and descended from the sky in a vessel accompanied by fire and thunder. After arriving, the Nommo, a semi-aquatic creature, created a reservoir of water to live in. Ogotemmeli also declared that the Nommo shared their knowledge of the stars with the Dogon people, leading some to ponder whether they were, in fact, ancient astronauts who visited Earth.

What Are Ancient Astronauts?

Ancient astronauts are hypothetical extraterrestrial beings that are rumoured to have visited Earth during the developmental years of human civilisation. While it should be stressed that there is no confirmed evidence that any ancient culture received alien visitors, there are interesting artefacts and artworks that some believe may support the idea. There are 2,000-year-old batteries found in Baghdad, the mysterious Nazca lines in Peru, and even ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that look a little like helicopters!

Did Ancient Astronauts Visit the Dogon People?

Whether the Dogon really received an out-of-this-world house call is widely debated. On the face of things, the level of astronomical knowledge possessed by this traditional West African tribe is staggering. However, there are possible explanations that are a little more grounded to Earth. During the solar eclipse of 1893, astronomers spent several weeks deep in the Dogon territory. It’s possible that they could have shared a few cosmological tips with curious tribespeople while they were in the area. Some people also question the methods of Griaule. Whether consciously or subconsciously, he may have prompted Ogotemmeli with information during their conversations. So, while the Dogon have some truly fascinating stories and even historical artwork to back them up, we’re unfortunately never likely to know the truth behind their astronomical revelations.

Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on visitors from Sirius to learn more about the galaxy! Head over to our One Million Stars app to take a tour through the cosmos and discover facts about Sirius and a host of other famous stars and constellations.

Explore the One Million Stars App