Zecharia Sitchin (July 11, 1920 – October 9, 2010) was an author of books proposing an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts.
Sitchin attributed the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Anunnaki, which he stated was a race of extraterrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune called Nibiru. He asserted that Sumerian mythology suggests that this hypothetical planet of Nibiru is in an elongated, 3,600-year-long elliptical orbit around the sun. Sitchin's books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 25 languages.
Sitchin's ideas have been rejected by scientists and academics, who dismiss his work as pseudoscience and pseudo history. His work has been criticized for flawed methodology and mistranslations of ancient texts as well as for incorrect astronomical and scientific claims.
Similar to earlier authors such as Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Däniken, Sitchin advocated hypotheses in which extraterrestrial events supposedly played a significant role in ancient human history.
According to Sitchin's interpretation of Mesopotamian iconography and symbolism, outlined in his 1976 book The 12th Planet and its sequels, there is an undiscovered planet beyond Neptune that follows a long, elliptical orbit, reaching the solar system roughly every 3,600 years. This planet is called Nibiru (although Jupiter was the planet associated with the god Marduk in Babylonian cosmology).
According to Sitchin, Nibiru (whose name was replaced with MARDUK in original legends by the Babylonian ruler of the same name in an attempt to co-opt the creation for himself) collided catastrophically with Tiamat (a goddess in the Babylonian creation myth the Enûma Eliš), which he considers to be another planet once located between Mars and Jupiter.
This collision supposedly formed the planet Earth, the asteroid belt, and the comets. Sitchin states that when struck by one of planet Nibiru's moons, Tiamat split in two, and then on a second pass Nibiru itself struck the broken fragments and one half of Tiamat became the asteroid belt.
The second half, struck again by one of Nibiru's moons, was pushed into a new orbit and became today's planet Earth. Sitchin also speculated that Pluto (which he identifies as both Gaga and Isimud) was originally a satellite of Saturn but Nibiru's gravity perturbed it, sending it to the outer Solar System and giving the body its peculiar orbital path, intersecting the orbit of Neptune.