The ancient Babylonians have long been recognized as the preeminent astronomers of the far, distant past of the ancient world. Several thousands of years before Copernicus they realized that the earth and other planets were spherical and that all revolved around the sun. With this knowledge they were able to accurately predict the eclipses of the sun and the moon. Up until modern times, most scholars assumed that the Babylonians had developed this astronomy themselves, the result of their need to do accurate calculations for their astrology. This however turns out not to be the case. Newly translated Babylonian texts indicate that the position of the stars and planets were calculated instead according to complex equations inherited  from the Sumerian civilization.
             The Babylonians seemed not to understand the foundations of these equations and formulas, they only knew how to use them. The Sumerians had an even more exact knowledge of the solar system and its place in our universe than did the Babylonians, whom they predate. The Sumerian calender was originally crafted as early as 3,000 B.C. and is also the model for our calendar today. They based their calender on the cycles of the moon, thereby breaking the year into 12 months, with a leap month put in every three years. Besides the fundementals of day counting, the Sumerians also had knowledge of more arcane astronomical features, some of which are hard to fathom just how they knew. For example, as the earth spins on it’s axis it wobbles, so that a line drawn from the north pole into space traces a circle as the years go by.
             To be precise, the pole traces a circle at a rate of about one degree every 72 years – effecting which star we call the north star over long periods of time. This phenomenon is called the earths precession. You can observe this effect with a toy top or a gyroscope. At first it stays stationary after the initial spin, but as the spinning slows down, the top of the top begins to trace little circles, which grow bigger and bigger until it falls over. A Great Year, the time it takes for the north pole to point to the same north star again is 25,920 years, calculated by multiplying the 72 years it takes to move one degree by the 360 degrees in a circle.The Sumerians knew of and understood the precession and also knew the length of the Great Year, a truly extraordinary feat given the lengthy observations required to discover this and also given the primitive instruments they had to use to make measurements.

         The Sumerians were also able to measure the distance between stars very precisely. But how is it possible that earthbound, primitive, pretechnological people were able to do this? And even more mysteriously, why? Such star maps would be neccessary for space travellers, but not for the ancient primitive Sumerians. Given the extraordinary accuracy of Sumerian astronomical calculations, perhaps it is prudent to have another look at those areas where their information differs from ours. The Sumerians assign 12 “celestial bodies” to the solar system, the sun, the moon and 10 planets. Today we recognize 11 of these, but it was not always the case. Until the late 18th century Western astronomers only knew of the existence of 6 planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus was discovered in 1781, Neptune in 1846, and Pluto in 1930. In this light, is it possible that the Sumerians 12th celestial body is yet to be discovered, a planet that the Sumerins called Nibiru?  Interestingly, in 1972 Joseph L. Brady, an astronomer at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory discovered a pertubation in Halleys comets orbit that could be explained by the presence of a Jupiter sized planet that orbits ever several thousand years. More recently, it has been found that the trajectories of space craft like the Voyagers are being disturbed by an unknown gravitational force.

         Could these and other anomolies be explained by Nibiru orbiting far out in space?Perhaps most fascinating of all, are the claims that the Sumerians inherited their knowledge from the “gods”.