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The Dogon Tribe of Mali

People of Amma


The Dogons are a small community of about three hundred thousand people living in the African region of Bandiaraga, Mali. They claim to be the descendants of the god Amma from the star Po-Tolo. One of their religious rites is celebrated every fifty years; during this ceremony called "Sigui", the Dogons use a snake mask about 10 meters high, which they hide in a secret cave at the end of the ceremony.


We know their customs thanks to two French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, who, from 1931 to 1952, devoted their studies to them. Dogon religious rites would be based on the binary nature of Sirius, a double-star system revolving around the same axis: Sirius B's orbit around Sirius A is explicitly described and the first, the smallest, takes fifty years to go around the second. The Dogons would owe these astonishing knowledge to ancient Egyptians, who would have in turn received them from the inhabitants of Sirius. But even if we do not believe this last point, the mystery remains as to how the Dogons were able to acquire such knowledge in astronomy, that man has only begun to understand thanks to the help of the most sophisticated modern technologies.

A unique star

The peculiarity of Sirius lies in its sothial cycle: that is to say, its reappearance in the sky after a periodic absence, immediately after sunrise. As for Sirius, this absence lasts 365.25 days, which coincides exactly with our terrestrial year. Among billions of stars, Sirius is the only one with this feature. How could these ancient populations know this without the help of our modern ultra-sophisticated technologies?

According to another theory, Sirius was chosen precisely because it is the only star to traverse the cycle of a terrestrial year and to move in the right direction behind other stars. That would have been known thousands of years before our time, before falling into oblivion for centuries.

However, some argue that these theories are easily refutable. The Dogons are a people who, to avoid any conflict, rarely contradict their interlocutors and who maintain many contacts with modern civilization. Among researchers who have studied them, none have found any trace of secret or exceptional knowledge, knowing moreover that Sirius seems to be of secondary importance in their culture.


Hidden truths

The question therefore remains unresolved: does the Dogon religion really conveys very precise notions of astronomy on Sirius, or is it only an extrapolation from us, confirmed by the Dogons in the sole concern of not contradicting us?

For now, we do not know the answer or the secret location of the caves where they hide the sacred mask of the Serpent god ...


People and Civilization