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Sitchin's Folly: The Inventory Stela


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#1    kmt_sesh

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:28 AM

In continuing my critique of Zecharia Sitchin's The Stairway to Heaven, I wanted to reserve a single thread for a particular monument on which he draws as evidence for his argument that the Great Pyramid pre-existed the Egyptian civilization. This information is all to be found in Chapter 8, "Forging the Pharaoh's Name," pages 341 to 345. This monument is a small limestone stela (30" high x 15" wide) commonly known as the Inventory Stela, but sometimes referred to as the Stela of the Daughter of Cheops. Sitchin has a fairly decent photo of the monument on page 343, and good photos of it can be found in innumerable texts on Egyptology, which I mention because I could not find a photo of it on the internet to which to link us. My apologies for that.

I provide here the main gist of the inscription, although there is more inscriptional material on the stela, the subject of which I will return to below, in my critique (Zivie-Coche 2002: 84):

Live the Horus Medjed, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Cheops,
given life. He found the house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids, next to
the house of Haurun, northwest of the house of Osiris, Lord of Rasetau.
He (re)built the pyramid of the king's daughter Henutsen beside this
temple. He made an inventory, carved on a stela, for his mother Isis, the
mother of the god, Hathor, Mistress of the Sky. He restored for her the
divine offerings and (re)built her temple in stone, that which he found
in ruins being renewed, and the gods in their place.


Sitchin has been writing for so many years that I'm not sure if he is principally guilty of initiating the misinformation that has been wrapped around this poor little monument, or if he is merely following on the folly of earlier writers who did not perform adequate research.

The stela was found by Auguste Mariette in 1858 in the ruins of the temple of Isis, at the foot of the Great Pyramid. It is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Sitchin describes the stela as the "damming evidence" that Khufu did not build the Great Pyramid because it was already there. Evidently Sitchin regards the part of the inscription reading "house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids" as proof that the pyramid belonged to Isis, a goddess, and not to Khufu, the king. He is reading "house" as pyramid.

There is also the information about building a pyramid for the Princess Henutsen next to the temple of the goddess. Sitchin asserts that archaeologists have found "independent evidence" that this small pyramid "was in fact dedicated to Henutsen," who is described as a wife of Khufu. Sitchin then goes on to use some truly peculiar logic in the line about the goddess Hathor to corroborate his claim that the Great Pyramid itself was already there (page 344):

Quote

Hathor...was the mistress of the Sinai peninsula. If the highest peak of the peninsula was her Eastern Mountain, the Great Pyramid was her Western Mountain--the two acting as the anchors for the Landing Corridor.

Here Sitchin is trying to build on his idea that the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre at Giza were actually beacons for his Anunnaki aliens flying about in their celestial craft. That may be how it exists in his head, but this association between Hathor and the Great Pyramid did not exist to the Egyptians themselves. It is inaccurate.

Finally, Sitchin notes that scholars at the time of the stela's discovery, "and many ever since," have stalwartly refused to accept the authenticity of the Inventory Stela. They have regarded it as a fraud in a convenient move to ignore its proof that the Great Pyramid was already there when Khufu stumbled onto Giza. Sitchin concludes with some information about J.H. Breasted and his text Ancient Records of Egypt, which he, Sitchin, describes as "the standard work of ancient Egyptian inscriptions," even though it was written in 1906. He acknowledges that Breasted regarded the Inventory Stela as a monument of a later time but nevertheless included it in his records of Dynasty 4.

My Response
Fringe writers in general tend to have a very poor sense of timelines and chronology. They also seem to be unable to reconcile the simple fact that ancient Egyptians living in later times wrote quite a few inscriptions about events and people from much earlier in their own history. A good example is the rock-cut inscription on Sehel Island that speaks of mytho-historical events in the time of King Djoser (Dynasty 3), even though it undeniably dates to the Ptolemaic Period. I don't know how many times I've seen fringe writers misinterpret this particular inscription and its proper date. The same is true for the Inventory Stela, if not more so. You will find it on fringe websites everywhere, as "proof" that the Giza monuments predate Khufu. I do have to suspect that Zecharia Sitchin is at the core of this misinformation.

In fact, there is no question that the Inventory Stela dates to a time much later than Dynasty 4. It's true as Sitchin mentions that at first some scholars regarded it as a fraud, but most who doubted its veracity did not think it was a modern fraud but in fact a text written later in dynastic history. I repeat this because from the very beginning scholars had reason to suspect it actually had nothing to do with Dynasty 4, and naturally it turns out they were right. Indeed, I don't know of any modern historian who doubts the Inventory Stela was cut in ancient Egypt, but certainly not in the time of Khufu. Sitchin's claim that Breasted's Ancient Records of Egypt is "the standard work of ancient Egyptian inscriptions," is part of his underlying problem in sloppy research, and a problem shared by most fringe writers. While Breasted's text is of course still a very useful reference, it is not the standard work. We have learned volumes more about Egyptian iconography, religion, and texts since 1906, and there are many modern references which historians will consult first. Fringe writers rarely seem to use modern research, and it's a big part of their problem.

Part of our problem in fully understanding the Inventory Stela is that when Mariette found it 150 years ago, he did not record exactly how he found it. We've lost the proper context and know only that it came from the temple of Isis, at the foot of the Great Pyramid. The temple of Isis was located on the east side of the small queen's pyramid designated G1c (Lehner 1997: 116); in this photo, which was taken from the height of the east face of the Great Pyramid, it's the small pyramid farthest to the right. Here's another photo at G1c, looking roughly from the southwest. It's the best preserved of the three.

One of the main problems with Sitchin's argument is the fact that the temple of Isis did not exist in Dynasty 4. Where it was situated was originally a small mortuary temple for the royal person once buried there. You will often see it attributed to Queen Henutsen, as written in the above-quoted inscription of the Inventory Stela, but the simple truth is that a royal lady named Hentusen "has no certain contemporary attestations" (Dodson and Hilton 2004: 52-53). The name does happen to be known from the Old Kingdom, but no evidence from the time of Khufu links him in any way to a queen or other royal lady by that name. In fact, archaeology shows that the temple of Isis was not built till around Dynasty 21 (Dodson and Hilton: ibid). The original small mortuary temple of the pyramid was probably in ruins and had all but vanished by the time of the Middle Kingdom.

As I mentioned earlier, Sitchin regards "the house of Isis, Mistress of the Pyramids" as proof that the Great Pyramid belonged to Isis. This is not so. The term pr Ast, "house of Isis," does not refer to the Great Pyramid but to the Dynasty 21 temple of Isis on the east side of G1c. In fact, if you read the inscription carefully, nowhere does it say that Khufu found the Great Pyramid itself already there. It does suggest that the Sphinx may have been there, but we have to put this stela into proper perspective.

It is certain that the Inventory Stela dates to around Dynasty 26, the Saite Period, which was over 1,800 years after the time of Khufu. There is no question about this. We cannot regard the Inventory Stela as some sort of ancient Egyptian historical text, which it most certainly is not. Even if it were, the people living in Dynasty 26 would've had very little understanding of the proper history of people and events from over 1,800 years before their time. There is another reason for the Inventory Stela. In using Khufu's name, "the Egyptians were not attempting to attribute it to him, but rather to commemorate him, to recall his memory at the site where he built his funerary complex" (Zivie-Coche 2002: 88). Moreover, it is clear that the style and quality of the stela date it to the Late Period, not to the Old Kingdom (Fagan, ed. 2006: 112).

Giza at this time was experiencing a reawakening, a renaissance. Egypt had freed itself (temporarily) from the yolk of Assyrian dominion, and under powerful kings like Psamtik I Wahibre, new monuments were being built and old ones restored. This is the proper context for the Inventory Stela, and is what was happening at Giza.

As I alluded to earlier, there are more inscriptions on the stela in addition to the part I quoted above. Most of these other inscriptions are honorary in nature and mention specific deities. However, the above-quoted inscription mentions a deity named Haurun. This was in fact originally a god of Syro-Palestine and only in later times was he fully absorbed into the Egyptian pantheon (Zivie-Coche 2002: 89). Haurun was not extant as an Egyptian deity in Dynasty 4. Numerous other deities mentioned on the stela are of the same nature. The text heavily emphasizes Isis but also includes Nephthys, neither of whom appear in Egyptian lore any earlier than the Pyramid Texts at the end of the Dynasty 5. It is similar with Osiris, who is also mentioned but is not attested till late in Dynasty 5, in a fragment of inscription dating to the reign of Djedkare Isesi. The same is true for some of the forms of the god Horus as they appear on the stela (Wilkinson 132, 146, 160).

All in all, Sitchin has succumbed to the pitfalls of poor research and the errors in his conclusions are readily evident. Not only are they evident but, put in the right context, they are simple to dissect and tear asunder.

Comments? Questions? Debate? ^_^

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#2    kmt_sesh

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:31 AM

Test post.

Edited by kmt_sesh, 28 November 2009 - 08:33 AM.

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#3    Hanslune

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 10:17 AM

Another fine piece of information on the poor research skills of Sitchin. But then he was writing for people he KNEW wouldn't check up on his pontifications and who knew virtually nothing independently about ancient Egypt. To such an audience you can say about anything you want, and if they are true believers, they will believe it.


#4    kmt_sesh

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 11:36 PM

View PostHanslune, on 28 November 2009 - 10:17 AM, said:

Another fine piece of information on the poor research skills of Sitchin. But then he was writing for people he KNEW wouldn't check up on his pontifications and who knew virtually nothing independently about ancient Egypt. To such an audience you can say about anything you want, and if they are true believers, they will believe it.

Thanks, Hanslune. The question I would bring up in response to what you said is, how does Sitchin know his readers won't check on his pontifications? I am not a scholar. I am not a professional historian. I am just an average guy who happens to enjoy studying the ancient Near East. So if an amateur historian such as I can have a field day dissecting the glaring flaws in Sitchin's thought process, imagine what professional historians could do!

Well, they might do nothing aside from shudder after reading the book, tear it up, and use it to line bird cages. :lol:

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#5    questionmark

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 11:39 PM

View Postkmt_sesh, on 28 November 2009 - 11:36 PM, said:

Well, they might do nothing aside from shudder after reading the book, tear it up, and use it to line bird cages. :lol:

I put mine in my camera display case on a little pedestal with a note below that seez: Don't ever be this stupid AGAIN!

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#6    kmt_sesh

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 12:20 AM

View Postquestionmark, on 28 November 2009 - 11:39 PM, said:

I put mine in my camera display case on a little pedestal with a note below that seez: Don't ever be this stupid AGAIN!

Wow, you're being awfully hard on yourself, questionmark. I mean, why would you want the thing to be publicly displayed. Sitchin's books have more productive uses, such as propping up the leg of a wobbly table.

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#7    cormac mac airt

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 12:28 AM

View Postkmt_sesh, on 29 November 2009 - 12:20 AM, said:

Wow, you're being awfully hard on yourself, questionmark. I mean, why would you want the thing to be publicly displayed. Sitchin's books have more productive uses, such as propping up the leg of a wobbly table.

Or best used as emergency toilet paper rations by hikers in, say, Yosemite National Park. :lol:

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#8    kmt_sesh

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 12:36 AM

I wasn't going to post this because it wasn't germane to the topic in my OP, but on reflection it does directly relate to the motives and character of Zecharia Sitchin himself.

Last night while writing my original post, I was still trying to track down a photo of the Inventory Stela so I could show people the monument about which Sitchin had written. In the course of my Google searches I came across some information about Sitchin's arrest. I've heard bits and pieces of this but never any actual details, so I clicked on the particular link.

It turns out to be a forum in which a staffer of one of the co-counsels defending Sitchin, a Sam Wilson, was announcing his blog so people could stay current with the case, if they were interested. The post in this forum was dated August 2007, and Wilson mentioned, "A federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York has charged him with five counts of which I will explain." The charges he listed are as follows:

1. Contempt of Court: He (Sitchin) is charged with violating a court order to hand over documents to the government he is alleged to have used in one of his books

2. False Statements: He is accused of making false statements before a grand jury investigating Rob Solorion and others for fraud

3. Possesion of False Papers: He is charged with making false documents meant to defraud the United States Government

4. Conveying False Information: The charge is saying that Sitchin conveyed false information in his books, amounting to a hoax in violation of the US Code.

5. Advocating Overthrow of US Government: His final charge is telling (advocating) the violent overthrow of the government in a speech in 2005 and more recently in January of this year


I was quite surprised by this. These are serious charges. I am always wary of internet information, so I was wondering if anyone knows more about this subject than I do. I searched some more but couldn't find how the court case turned out for Sitchin.

If nothing else, it would be my hope that Sitchin acolytes at UM would see this and realize how duplicitous and shady a character Sitchin is. And if they read it and still side with Sitchin, it would be my hope that they seek immediate psychiatric help. Fringies at UM often complain about how unfair orthodox scholars are to their favorite fringe writers, and yet one of their high priests, Zecharia Sitchin, appears not only to be a sloppy and misleading researcher but an outright criminal as well! :blink:

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#9    PersonFromPorlock

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 03:12 AM

Those charges look a little hokey. I'm no lawyer but I have serious doubts that grand juries issue indictments for contempt of court: that's something judges do on their own. 'Possesion [sic] of false documents' and 'Conveying false documents' don't ring a bell. The law against advocating overthrow of the government, the Smith Act, is still on the books but has been in abeyance since many convictions under it were found unconstitutional in 1957.

'Making false statements to a grand jury' is at least a real crime.

Well, I could be wrong.

A little OT but I'm always amused by the belief that our putative space visitors needed large terrain features to find their landing fields. Even forty years ago in Vietnam, we could put the needed electronics in a backpack.

Edited by PersonFromPorlock, 29 November 2009 - 03:14 AM.


#10    Qoais

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 03:32 AM

kmt_sesh

Quote

If nothing else, it would be my hope that Sitchin acolytes at UM would see this and realize how duplicitous and shady a character Sitchin is. And if they read it and still side with Sitchin, it would be my hope that they seek immediate psychiatric help. Fringies at UM often complain about how unfair orthodox scholars are to their favorite fringe writers, and yet one of their high priests, Zecharia Sitchin, appears not only to be a sloppy and misleading researcher but an outright criminal as well

Right - and never, ever - has any orthodox person ever sinned!!  Nobody is perfect kmt.  If a brilliant scientist is a pedophile, and is found out and convicted - do we throw away all his scientific discoveries?  Not.  You're saying that because Sitchen may or may not have been charged with something, and may or may not be guilty of it - his books are total lies.

PersonFromPorlock

Quote

Making false statements to a grand jury' is at least a real crime.
  Again - it has to be proven they were false statements and that's all in the eye of the beholder.  Look at your ex-president - the sex maniac.  From his point of view he didn't make a false statement when he said he didn't have sex with Monica baby - just because she had his member in her mouth - well - that's not SEX.  Posted Image

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#11    kmt_sesh

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 04:36 AM

View PostQoais, on 29 November 2009 - 03:32 AM, said:

kmt_sesh


Right - and never, ever - has any orthodox person ever sinned!!  Nobody is perfect kmt.  If a brilliant scientist is a pedophile, and is found out and convicted - do we throw away all his scientific discoveries?  Not.  You're saying that because Sitchen may or may not have been charged with something, and may or may not be guilty of it - his books are total lies.

Everyone sins. No one is a saint, but that's not at issue here. At issue is the integrity of research and the conveying of false and misleading material in one's literature. I've demonstrated in two simple and separate threads that Sitchin most definitely is guilty of that. I don't know that I look at his books as lies, but misleading? Absolutely. It comes down to whether Sitchin actually believes in what he writes, or if he is simply out to make a buck. If it is the latter case, then, yes, I think his books are lies. I'm not convinced he sees it that way, however.

My gut feeling is that he does believe in what he writes, and that puts it in a different perspective. In this case he probably does not mean to lie and probably doesn't think he's doing so. He is positing questionable conclusions based on distortions of known historical facts, which nearly all fringe writers do. It is a form of dishonesty, and on a professional level it causes all of his arguments to be void.

Quote

Again - it has to be proven they were false statements and that's all in the eye of the beholder.  Look at your ex-president - the sex maniac.  From his point of view he didn't make a false statement when he said he didn't have sex with Monica baby - just because she had his member in her mouth - well - that's not SEX.  Posted Image

I stress again my uncertainty of internet sources, and to be perfectly frank I don't know how reliable the information is. That's why I posted it--to see if someone who knows more about the matter than I could provide some insight. Some of those charges seem a bit odd to me, too. I have to agree with PersonFromPorlock on that score. I don't know if the post in the forum I came across is even legitimate, so I do caution skepticism on all fronts. I apologize that I didn't save the link because now I can't seem to find that forum again.

Perjuring a grand jury is a very serious offense, so if it's true, Sitchin could be in deep doo-doo about that one. LOL To tell you the truth, I'm a little regretful that I even posted this information. I just wanted to know if someone knows more about it. I had heard that Sitchin had been arrested, but I don't know any details.

If it's all false information, I've painted myself a fool and I apologize to Zecharia Sitchin. I apologize to everyone here for wasting time on the matter.

More importantly, I'd rather discuss and debate the original post. That's what matters. This one's my fault, however. By writing about the charges I've opened the door, so it's fair game. I just don't think it's as interesting as discussing the material in the book I've been reading. ^_^

As for Bill Clinton, I bow to your logic there, Qoais. That was just embarrassing to all of us Americans. By the way, the sex maniac is our ex-ex-president. You remember the next fellow, right? George Bush, ex-president and war-maniac? Posted Image

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#12    Golden Hawk

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 04:41 AM

View PostPersonFromPorlock, on 29 November 2009 - 03:12 AM, said:

A little OT but I'm always amused by the belief that our putative space visitors needed large terrain features to find their landing fields. Even forty years ago in Vietnam, we could put the needed electronics in a backpack.

Yep, those backpacks came in handy, unless you were like my husband, he was communications in Viet-Nam; USMC SSEP1966-OCT1968.  

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#13    Golden Hawk

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 04:53 AM

View Postkmt_sesh, on 28 November 2009 - 08:28 AM, said:

Sitchin has been writing for so many years that I'm not sure if he is principally guilty of initiating the misinformation that has been wrapped around this poor little monument, or if he is merely following on the folly of earlier writers who did not perform adequate research.

Here Sitchin is trying to build on his idea that the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre at Giza were actually beacons for his Anunnaki aliens flying about in their celestial craft. That may be how it exists in his head, but this association between Hathor and the Great Pyramid did not exist to the Egyptians themselves. It is inaccurate.

So called authorities deserve to be exposed ASAP.  The fact that the world of acedemia continues to hire them and keep them on staff is a literal curse of its' own; the mummy's curse being another :blush: .

Too often the historians continue to approve of the dis-information that was written 100+ years ago refusing to come out of their dusty closets long enough to find this is the 21st Century, not the 19th or early 20th.

We know the pyramids were built by people; citizens of Kmt and not slaves.  Were reused as were so many of the tombs and the temples.  Idiots like Sutchin contaminate the field of research and should be regulated janatorial duties sweeping out the museums and halls of learning and mopping the floors.  <_<

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#14    Golden Hawk

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 04:59 AM

Kmt-sesh,

I could use your help and expertise with my :rolleyes:  book on Kmt in the 15th and 16th Dynasties.  I'm having a problem with proper and given names.  Thanks.

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#15    kmt_sesh

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 06:23 AM

There's something in my original post which I neglected to clarify. I wrote that "Sitchin asserts that archaeologists have found 'independent evidence' that this small pyramid 'was in fact dedicated to Henutsen,' who is described as a wife of Khufu." I wanted to stress that no such "independent evidence" exists. Archaeologists have never uncovered any sort of textual or inscriptional information, beyond the Inventory Stela itself, to prove that the queen's pyramid designated G1c was built for or used by a royal lady named Henutsen. The only object that attributes Hentusen to the reign of Khufu is the Inventory Stela, which I demonstrated does not belong to Dynasty 4 but to Dynasty 26. This is the sort of misinformation that reveals the dubious nature of Sitchin's approach.

We all owe a debt to a vetted and recognized scholar by the name of Michael Heiser. Most scholars simply ignore fringe writers like Sitchin because the material fringe writers produce contains little to no veracity. Heiser is somewhat different. It might be because Sitchin is exploiting an area of ancient history in which Heiser happens to be a properly trained expert, and as such Heiser feels compelled to set the record straight.

On his own website Heiser explains in very clear and detailed terms exactly why Sitchin is wrong. This is principally in the area of ancient Near Eastern linguistics, a field in which Sitchin has no discernible training. His own books bear that out, and Heiser's website serves to reinforce the fact.

I just came across an article written by Michael Heiser and thought I would pass it along. It's dated September of this year. Some highlights are worth posting directly:

Quote

A simple author search in a religion or humanities database available at any college or public library will reveal that Zecharia Sitchin has never put his theories forward in scholarly publications where they can be reviewed by experts in the fields in which he is supposed to be expert. Instead, he writes for the non-specialist who cannot evaluate his work. That Sitchin has no peer-reviewed publications is an indictment on his desire to have his work tested, and perhaps even his ability to write anything that experts would not think ridiculous.

Also:

Quote

Followers of Sitchin love to point out that he quotes a number of books written by Sumerian and Mesopotamian scholars, but they miss two important items: Sitchin often does not record full titles or page numbers (so he can be checked), and he to date has offered no instances where the scholars whose books he quotes agree with his extraterrestrial interpretations. It is simply dishonest to quote a Sumerian scholar in regard to the birth of Sumerian civilization and then later claim that source backs up his work in other regards.

The full text of the article is here.

I directly quoted the two above portions because they are aspects of Sitchin's writing that bother me, too. A book that is self-edited and not subject to professional review will find its way into the New Age sections of book stores, not into the sections of history and science. This is something on which I commented in my recent thread about Sitchin's misinterpretation of pyramids. It seems Sitchin deliberately avoids having any of his work vetted by recognized experts prior to publication.

The nature of the second quote is something that jumped out at me in The Stairway to Heaven. As with other fringe writers, Sitchin will pick and choose information from respectable publications of professional historians, in an effort to make it seem as though proper research backs up his conclusions. But of course, it does not. Sitchin did this with Ahmed Fakhry's book The Pyramids, early in Chapter 8 when Sitchin misrepresents certain facts about the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. There is a quote from Fakhry, but no page number and no discernible context. It's also notable that Sitchin does not include proper citations and bibliography. All of this make his conclusions very much dubious.

I recommend everyone who reads this post to read Heiser's article in the above link. It's fairly short but brings up very good points why a writer like Zecharia Sitchin cannot be trusted to present accurate historical facts. As harsh as I tend to be on Sitchin, Michael Heiser, an actual historian and linguistics expert, is absolutely unforgiving. ;)

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Words of wisdom from Richard Clopton:
For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.

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