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Great Unsolved Mysteries: Ancient Planisphere

Updated on March 31, 2012

by Christine B.


The word "Planisphere" simply means flat sphere—in other words, a planisphere is a map of a curved surface, i.e. the night sky on planet Earth, laid out in a flat, two-dimensional format. A planisphere was found from the time of the Sumerians and Babylonians that dates back to 3,300 BC. (Photo at right) So, where did these ancient people procure their vast knowledge of the night sky and universe, especially since the invention of the telescope was thousands of years in the future? Not only is this early map of the stars accurate, but it is still being used as the basis of star maps today.

The age of this map is only one of the unsolved mysteries surrounding it. Another is the fact that the stars visible in the skies over Earth don’t move uniformly throughout the year. Some constellations move in a back and forth pattern while others flip over and make 360 degree turns, and they also make their way across the sky at different speeds. Imagine the study and calculation it would have taken for these early people to figure out the movement of each constellation. Also, how would the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians know how these stars would be positioned in the northern and southern hemispheres? People didn’t travel as easily or nearly as often in 3,000 BC as they do now. But, the most obviously question has to be, if they believed the world to be flat, how could they come up with this planisphere at all? It is obvious that these ancient people knew in the third millennium BC that the world was round.

There can be only one explanation for the knowledge these ancient people possessed… they were given the information by a superior species who knew a great deal more concerning the Universe.

Sumerian texts have been translated and we have learned that they wrote about there being many gods “on Earth and in the Heavens.” These deities brought with them great knowledge and taught these people many things, including farming and instruction on becoming a great civilization. Where did these “gods” come from and why did they have so much concern for the progress of the people of Earth in those early times? That is a mystery that has yet to be solved.

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