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The Dogon of Mali

Posted by Walter Gido on

The Dogon of Mali
In Mali, west Africa, lives a clan of people called the Dogon. Their astronomical lore goes back thousands of years to about 3200 B.C. According to their traditions, their migrations began from the Northeast of Mali, about 1,400 years ago, finally leading them to their present habitat - a harsh, forbidding land bordering the Bandiagara Cliffs, in southeastern Mali.
Their populations is estimated to be about 300,000 people living in the Southwest of the Niger loop in the region of Mopti, Mali (Bandiagara, Koro, Banka), near Douentza & part of North of Burkina Faso (North west of Ouahigouya). Though clear links to the ancient Nilotic system are everywhere evident in their thought, they seem to have more or less independently elaborated ideas in astrophysics & cosmology that go well beyond what is known of ancient Nile Valley science.
Such ideas are advanced enough to compare favorably with certain principles in Einsteinian physics & quantum mechanics. How could a "pre-literate," post-neolithic people arrive at such a high level of thought? How could such a complex system be created without benefit of telescope, microscopes, mathematics, or any of the technical paraphernalia that undergird modern science. Brecher was racking his brains over these issues when he said:
"The problem for us ... is how the Dogon could have known a host of astronomical facts, all of which are invisible to the unaided eye. In particular, how, could they have known about the existence of Sirius B? How could they have known of its incredible density? It elliptical orbit? Its 50-year period? They have no business knowing any of this."
This was blurted out by an eminent M.I.T. scientist. It is not altogether easy to know how to assess the Dogon, & in many ways, they are the most astonishing & perplexing people in Africa.

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