The Dogon of Mali

The Africans have no business knowing this.
—Kenneth Brecher, MIT physics professor, 1977

For centuries, the Dogon of Mali have had an excellent understanding of the solar system, particularly the Sirius star system. The Dogon, in addition to plotting the orbits of the stars circling Sirius, identified one of its companions—Sirius B—as being one of the densest and tiniest stars in our galaxy. The most notable aspect of their observations is that Sirius B is invisible to the unaided eye.

The Dogon name for Sirius B is po tolo (po: the smallest seed known to them; tolo: star). They established that it moves in a 50-year orbit around Sirius and rotates on its own axis. In addition, they observed a flashing object near Sirius B, which was only recently discovered by the NASA Einstein X-ray satellite. The flashing object proved to be dwarf nova.

Centuries later, in 1862, the Dogon's observations were brought to light when astronomer Alvan Clark, using the best optical telescope in the world at the time, detected that Sirius did indeed have a companion star, Sirius B. In 1970, it was first photographed by the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Since the Dogon did not use Western technology or scientific method to arrive at their conclusions, European scientists explained—or rather, rationalized—their findings in interesting ways. Robert Temple of the Royal Astronomical Society postulated that "space creatures" came down from the stars and told the Dogon about Sirius B. Astrophysicist Carl Sagan posited that "a far more credible [explanation] than an ancient extra-terrestrial educational foray among the Dogon might be a comparatively recent contact with scientifically literate Europeans."
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Creation Secrets of the Dogon Shaman, the Star Sirius and the New Age Prophecies, Anthony K. Andoh and Kali Sichen. North Scale, 1998.
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Dogon, Chukwuma Azuonye. Rosen Publishing Group, 1996.
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The Dogon of West Africa (Celebrating the Peoples and Civilizations of Africa), Christine Cornell. Powerkids Press, 1997.
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The Science of the Dogon: Decoding the African Mystery Tradition. Destiny Books, 1998.
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The Sirius Mystery: New Scientific Evidence for Alien Contact 5,000 Years Ago. Destiny Books, 1998.
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Videos & DVDs

The Art of the Dogon (1988). VHS, 24 minutes.
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