"Talk about the return of the Anunnaki Gods” YouTuber MrMBB333 declares in his video, ‘Unreal! Two GIANT Men spotted nearby Giza Pyramids!’
MrMBB333 tells viewers that he was perusing Google Earth by the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt when he stumbled upon the “giant” men in a street view photo. He then goes on to wonder if these giant men are the very same guys who built the pyramids.
For this YouTuber, and many of his 30,000 strong followers, the idea that Sumerian deities could be casually wandering through a suburban area in Giza seems entirely viable. Unfortunately, the concepts of foreshortening and angular perspective don’t seem quite as viable. These are not giant men at all, rather, they’re just closer to the camera than the cars and the other people in the background. And the camera is angled upwards.
This video is just the tip of the Anunnaki conspiracy-theory iceberg though. Type Anunnaki into a Google video search and watch the hits roll in; currently, there are more than 230,000. Most are uploaded by channels with names such as ‘Ancient Astronaut Archive,’ ‘High Strangeness’, ‘Enigmas of the Universe, and ‘Zohar StarGate Ancient Discoveries’.
So, who are the Anunnaki and why are they inspiring such a crusade of fervent followers and believers?
The Anunnaki were the gods worshipped in ancient Mesopotamia, a historical area that covers modern-day Iraq and stretching to parts of Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The belief system stems from the Sumerians and Akkadians and was later informed by the Babylonians and the Assyrians. All of these civilizations lived in Mesopotamia in the millennia prior to the Christian era.
Anunnaki as a term refers to those gods who were the offspring of An, the Sumerian god of the sky. Cuneiform texts dating from the proto-literate period circa 3400 - 2900 BCE make reference to ‘a-nuna’, and ‘a-nuna-ke-ne’. Depending on the scholar, these terms either mean princely offspring or offspring of An.
According to the Sumerians the main god, An, came into being after Nummu, the waters, birthed him. The waters also spawned the god of the earth, Ki. Ki and An produced a son, Enlil god of storms, rains, and winds. It is Enlil who separated An from Ki and claimed the earth, leaving the heavens to his father.
Much of our knowledge of the Anunnaki come from the stories, ‘Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld’ and ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’. In both of these, the Anunnaki are portrayed as judges decreeing fates in the underworld. In other stories, the deities serve different functions and specifics on their role in Sumerian mythology is contradictory.
Like other polytheistic belief systems, the Sumerians worshipped multiple gods who were related to each other and had human traits and characteristics. Much like the more familiar gods of Greek mythology, Sumerian gods had human foibles, desires, and aims. The individual gods had wide-ranging powers and were described as imposing beings, physically far larger than non-divine humans.
Interestingly, there are a few striking similarities between the Sumerian religious traditions, — particularly as they grew and shifted focus along with increased urbanization — and the Abrahamic religions Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
All four, for example, tell the story of a great flood. And all four feature a female character who is referred to as “the mother of all living”. In the Bible, this is Eve, and in the Hebrew and Aramaic traditions, Hawwah, made from the rib of Adam. In the Mesopotamian texts, “this mother of all living” is born from the sperm (or waters) of Enki, a powerful son of An.
Lost in translation?
Our knowledge of Sumerian mythology concerning the Anunnaki comes from cuneiform tablets excavated from the area in the 1800s. These tablets are predominantly literary in nature and contain myths, epics, panegyrics and the like. Of the many thousands of tablets unearthed, many are yet to be translated because there are very few cuneiform specialists in the world.
One self-proclaimed specialist is Zecharia Sitchin a Russian-born American author. In the 70s, Sitchin turned away from the widely accepted scholarly view of the Anunnaki and crafted an opposing myth of his own, one that has been embraced by independent theorists and conspiracy aficionados all over the world.
Instead of accepting the mainstream translation of ‘Anunnaki’ as “offspring of An” Sitchin based his theory on the idea that the cuneiform sign DIĜIR means “people of the blazing rockets”.
In 1976 Sitchin published a book called ‘The 12th Planet’. In it, he claims that Sumerian cuneiform tablets reveal an unrecognized planet called Nibiru. The inhabitants of this planet are the Anunnaki who came to Earth with the express purpose of mining gold in Africa.
According to Sitchin, they did so because gold would help to replenish the atmosphere on Nibiru which was failing. But the miners were not keen on working in the gold mines so the Anunnaki bred with Homo erectus resulting in Homo sapiens who were created to work in the mines as slaves.
For Sitchin, modern-day humanity is a direct result of alien astronauts genetically engineering us hundreds of thousands of years ago.
It may sound completely outlandish, but Mr. Sitchin’s theory is a popular one. ‘The 12th Planet,’ his first book, has sold millions of copies and has been translated into dozens of languages. He followed this book with six other volumes which make up the ‘Earth Chronicles’ series.
Supporters of Sitchin point to solid evidence of early mining in Africa as proof that the Anunnaki did indeed come from the stars via Nibiru. But why does an early African civilization need to have their agency and capabilities stripped from them and credited to alien astronauts instead?
Building on Sitchin’s work, David Meade, another self-proclaimed academic whose work would probably struggle to pass peer review, claims that the Anunnaki built the pyramids.
There’s a trend here. Writing for The Conversation, Julien Benoit notes that racism is the root of these theories which discredit early peoples and instead privilege extraterrestrial intervention. That all of this supposed alien activity happens in the Global South is, perhaps, unsurprising.
"Despite all this evidence, some people still refuse to believe that anyone from Africa [or anywhere in what is today considered the developing world] could possibly have created and constructed the Giza pyramids or other ancient masterpieces. Instead, they credit ancient astronauts, extraterrestrials or time travellers as the real builders."
Sitchin has faced criticism from linguists and cuneiform scholars worldwide who have called his work “amateurish” and the work of a “dogmatist”. In 1979, Roger Wescott, a past president of the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, reviewed ‘The 12th Planet’ and noted that Sitchin’s favoured expressions include ‘without question’ and ‘there can be no doubt’ which “regrettably, he applies to the most questionable assertions and the most doubtful interpretations.”
Despite reviews such as this one, alien astronaut theories of creation and past civilizations, which are largely the result of Sitchin’s ‘pioneering’ work, have massive cultural currency.
Conspiracy theories will always be appealing to us because as a species we have the ability to find patterns and craft inferences, even ones that are not really there. Once we've half-formed these ideas our confirmation bias, a powerful cognitive force, takes over and we find evidence to support what we think.
We ignore evidence that points to the other side of the story. We also like to bestow upon ourselves the ability to be different, to think outside-of-the-box, to reason above and beyond our fellow humans.
This could be the reason why, despite the flaws and contradictions in his work, Sitchin has managed to craft a modern-day myth, one that now stretches beyond his legacy.
Imagine years in the future, a society somewhat like our own discovering ‘The 12th Planet’ and the pseudo-science documentaries it spawned, in much the same way that we discovered the cuneiform tablets. What would they make of our myths?
As for the role of the Anunnaki in creation? The truth is out there. Whether it’s to be found on YouTube is debatable.