Sitchin and the PS

PS is the short name for "Paleo-SETI" - the search for influence of extraterrestrial intelligence in our past. And besides Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin is the second "light figure" of that movement. But whereas Däniken always emphasises that he is no expert, Sitchin is regarded as exactly that: a renowned historian, an expert of ancient oriental languages. An academic who turned onto his own colleagues. But is this true?

Sitchin's grades

The cover text of his 1995-book ...und die Anunnaki erschufen den Menschen informs the reader:

"Zecharia Sitchin was born in Russia and grew up in Palestine. There he gained profound knowledge in old and modern Hebraic and other Semitic languages. He made his diploma at the university of London. He belongs to the few orientalists of our time who can read the Sumerian clay tables ..."

Yes, there it is. Language studies in Palestine, and then a a diploma from a respected university in England.
This is used by Sitchin and his publishers to demonstrate his competence - and it is emphasised on many web pages dealing with Sitchins topics. And I often got e-mails from his fans asking me to stop criticising him, because I as an amateur have no right to attack such a distinguished academic like Sitchin.
But it is peculiar, that in his older books the biographic data differ. In his first book, The 12th planet from 1986 is written:

"Zecharia Sitchin was born un the USSR and grew up in Palestine, where he studied old- and new Hebraic and other Semitic and European languages. After his studies at the London School of Economics he worked for many years as one of the leading journalists in Israel. ..."

Well, that sounds different. No "University of London", just a "School of Economics". And no word about a diploma, or even a grade. Why this discrepancy?
Well, like with his theories there is a gap between wish and reality. The "London School of Economics" (LSE) a college associated with the London University. It is a good school, and many of the most intelligent people studied there. But unfortunately for Sitchin there is nothing thought what has anything to do with archaeology, ancient Sumerians or hieroglyphics. Sitchin majored in "Economics History" - which goes back to 1704 only. So this study is as useless to gain competence for his topics than a grade in biology or chemistry. So some creative public relations guys bend his biography a bit - and now he has studied at the University of London - where one, of course, can study all kinds of archaeology!
His "Diploma" is also an exaggeration. Sitchin was immatriculated between fall 1938 and spring 1941. This is enough time to make the first "undergraduate degree", the bachelor. This is the lowest possible degree and it even is below the "Vordiplom" on German universities (this Vordiplom is accepted on English universities as replacement for the here still uncommon Bachelor). "Diploma from the University of London", suggestively connected with his "language studies" is clearly an exaggeration of his competence - the English "Diploma" normally comes after the first postgraduate degree (Master) which comes normally one to two years after the bachelor.
But stop! According to the texts in his first book he studied languages during his time in Palestine! A friend of Sitchin told me something similar: he studied it extensively, but his papers got lost during the war. But that is simply impossible. Sitchin was born in 1920 (some sources say 1921), and he came to England in 1937. So he must have left Palestine between the age of 15 and 17. And he must have finished his extensive studies at the same age. Hm, and when did this wonder boy visit school?
No doubt, someone invented a vita for Sitchin, to change a simple journalist for economics into a renowned scientist. To give him competence about a topic he never had!

Sitchin in the A.A.S.

The "organised" alternatives like the German section of the A.A.S (formerly "Ancient Astronaut Society", now "Society for Astronautics, Archaeology and SETI", honorary chairman Erich von Däniken) have officially recognised Sitchin's clash with reality. On former official message boards even high ranking members were scoffing about Sitchin. He was used as a scrape goat, to demonstrate that the A.A.S. is able to self correct. A positive sign. On the first glance.
Only on the surface, because many parts of Sitchins "evidence" are still recycled in books of those authors who scoffed at Sitchin. Examples:

Even in latest publications like Erdogan Ercivans Verbotene Ägyptologie, published in 2003, the faker legend is kept alive. Although the author knows this page and has not a single shred of evidence to debunk these arguments. Why? Well, these are political reasons. Accepting the inscriptions as genuine would mean accepting Khufu as builder - and that would invalidate large portions of the permanently recycled "mythical lore" of alternative writers.

Addendum: In 2001 author Walter Jörg Langbein admitted, that he could have been wrong in propagating the faker legend. He now thinks that the inscriptions are most probably genuine. So he is the first German best-seller author who has changed his view here (although I will wait for further publications to se if it's true). The comment from Erdogan Ercivan: It's a mistake from Langbein to admit mistakes where there are no mistakes...

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All pictures and texts © Frank Dörnenburg