Here is the picture of cylinder seal VA/243.

cylinder seal VA/243

Image credits: Z. Sitchin

This seal was named like that because it is number 243 in the collection of the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin.

What is the correct meaning of the star symbol (including 11 dots around) shown below?

cylinder seal VA/243 - star symbols

So in total 12 mysterious objects (I guess).

This is I guess explained in A Brief Analysis of Cylinder Seal VA 243, however it's still not clear for me.

And the star in the middle, is it our Sun or it's not?

If it's not, is it referring to some specific constellation?

  • 1
    kenorb, you're right: the source is criticising the "ancient astronaut" theory. I think this question might be more helpful if you briefly summarised why you want to more about that symbol (although the link "A Brief Analysis of Cylinder Seal VA 243" does explain this, it would be easier for most people reading this question if they didn't have to read the entire paper to understand the background behind this question.
    – user62
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 23:59

8 Answers 8


My name is Emerson C Velloso, and this is my archaeoastronomical contribution to Professor Michael S Heiser:

The man seated is Ninurta, He's not only the God of the Farmers and Plow, He is also the God of War, related to the planet Saturn!

The big star in the center is Saturn.

Ninurta - the God of the Farmers and Plow, the God of War, planet Saturn

These Akkadian representations are not realistic, but only systematic... even so, the astronomical order is right: the planets on the ecliptic trajectory passes between Betelgeuse/Aldebaran and the Pleiades.

star symbol of cylinder seal VA/243 - Orion, Betelgeuse, Pleiades, Saturn, Aldebaran


Something I never see mentioned concerning this seal and the "solar system" is why only including Pluto makes no sense. Since you can't see all the planets with the naked eye, I believe the idea is that the information of our "correct" solar system was passed down by those posing as "gods".

However, here lies my issue. If you do a simple Google search for dwarf planets, you can see others which are close in size to Pluto. Eris, for example is basically the same size. My inclination would be that any "correct" solar system provided to the ancients by otherworldly beings (let's assume for the sake of argument) would either list 8 (not counting the smaller "dwarf" planets) or at least 10 (Eris and Pluto) or up to 15 (with smaller, similarly sized dwarf planets). None of which correspond to the proposed "solar system model.


Nope. Not even close (okay, a little bit).

According to my source, the symbol is actually a star (just one). It looks kinda confusing like a solar system or a Sun. To make a Sun, you must at least meet this regulation for this type of art:

The sun symbol always has either four arms plus wavy lines extending from a "ball" in the middle, or it is a ball with wavy lines. VA 243 has no wavy lines. It does not depict the sun.

In fact it is a star rather than our beloved Sun. As seen in the picture below, the picture you showed is a star as it has 6 - 8 points. This time it has 6 points.

Caption: Below are examples of star symbols. Stars could have 6, 7, or 8 pts in Sumero-Mesopotamian art (VA 243 has six):

Star from the main image

So your picture is a star, not a constellation. It represents a star in the sky, even the dots are part of the star.

  • 5
    Does this really answer the question? The question asks about the meaning of the star symbol.
    – Piper
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 22:11
  • @PythonMaster If you say this is our beloved Sun, what are the dots around?
    – kenorb
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 15:16
  • It is not the sun I said. The picture is a star, not the Sun. Commented May 1, 2015 at 15:19
  • 2
    @PythonMaster Perhaps add information about what stars represented to the Sumerians to better answer this question?
    – Piper
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 15:41
  • @PythonMaster - "even the dots are part of the star." I don't think your source supports that. The PDF linked there provides more complete information, and states they are also stars, likely representing some constellation (Section III - Surrounding "Dots").
    – femtoRgon
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 20:17

Apparently, either my research jiu-jitsu is flawed, or the first cylinder is a forgery. First of all, it does not resemble any of the Cuneiform writings that are historically known, secondarily there is no such item in the VA (I checked the items archive online and JSTOR for any notice of VA item 243). If you want to know more about Sumerians, I recommend more reliable sources (I'm an amateur, critical thinker at best). In these times no planets above Saturn were known, even cities and Ziggurats were constructed in accord with this view.

Not much is known about the Sumerian astrological/astronomical system, however much later, Babylonians did have an idea of spatial depth called "assuraku", is it not enough to call these civilizations highly advanced star-cultures without all the unnecessary superficialities?

enter image description here

Rochberg-Halton, F. "Stellar Distances in Early Babylonian Astronomy: A New Perspective on the Hilprecht Text (HS 229)." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 42, no. 3 (1983): 209-17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/545074.

As a proof that no other planets above Saturn were known, all architecture modelled after the spheres and universe as it was known did not exceed the number seven:

enter image description here enter image description here

James, Peter, and Marinus Anthony Van Der Sluijs. "Ziggurats, Colors, and Planets: Rawlinson Revisited." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 60 (2008): 57-79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25608622

As for the Stars, Thirty-Six of them were of great referential significance for the Babylonians

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Van Der Waerden, B. L. "Babylonian Astronomy. II. The Thirty-Six Stars." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8, no. 1 (1949): 6-26. http://www.jstor.org/stable/542436.

I've just discovered something while looking at all this and comparing it to old Arabic constellations in Stellarium. The "First Lucky Star of the King" in Arabic starlore is Alpha Aquarius. Alpha Aquarius is a Star of Ea - Gu.la in the Tenth Month of Tebitu. La, i'lu is designating a 'Deity'.

enter image description here

enter image description here

It is also a prefix for every deity:

enter image description here


Hammurabi, Anton Deimel, Alfred Pohl, R. Follet, and E. Bergmann. 1930. Codex Hammurabi. Roma: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum.

Interesting, huh?


It's a date-stamp that indicates which Akitu festival the seal is commemorating. Akitu was a barley festival, andwas celebrated twice per year (sowing and reaping.) The Akitu festival marked the beginning of each half-year of the Sumerian Calendar. Here's another seal depicting the other Akitu festival. Note that it shows the constellation Cancer - a half year later than the alignment shown in the first seal. http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a178/belmarduk/sargoncoronation.jpg


We actually have 12 planets in our solar system including dwarf planets not 15 brody Also pythonmaster these are people's interpretation of what they think to be correct.. everyone wants to disprove someone ( put themselves first ) instead of working together. Since these people took so much time to detail and considering they would consider our sun a "star" and not their "sun" ( if they even distinguished that difference like we do ) because they are not from this system and we are the 7th station and why does no one point out the 13th planet on the tablet maybe they count the planet that is now the inner belt? But don't get me wrong that dot was no mistake and is not talked about. The nibiru system ( we getting crazy now ) is supposedly a ultraviolet system with many objects rotating around a dwarf star ( one theory ) that emits no visible light and ultraviolet rays ( could be the "sun" with rays coming off it ) which some believe is why their eyes are always so large when carved into these tablets. ( highly controversial, I know ) but at the end of the day I think we still haven't the slightest clue about any of this and need a more public space program that will not hide information and block what we are "allowed" to view in the night sky.

  • 1
    If you include dwarf planets then the count is an awful lot higher than 12!
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 8:42
  • Well if we go classifying all natural satilites as dwarf planets we would have hundreds essentially everything within the oort cloud is locked around our star..
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 17:07
  • Gibet look at sculptures from across the world like olmecs or Maya they all represent themselves... different features for different regions and sub species of humans I as a Caucasian man have no features of the olmecs nor the Maya..
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 17:16

Watch "Symbols of an Alien Sky" on YouTube. It's got nothing to do with aliens and everything to do with plasma physics. The "sun" with wavy lines you refer to is not Sol it is Saturn and Saturn also is represented with a six pointed star called seal of Saturn. If you watch the documentary and the rest of Thunderbolt Projects videos, all will be answered. The lightning scarred planet Mars is jaw dropping.

  • 2
    You will have to include the relevant answer here, at least some cite or reference.
    – kenorb
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 17:32

It is definitive a depiction of the solar system. It begins on the lower right above the elbow of the person with Mercure, then Venus, then Earth with it's moon (outside the planetsry ring), then Mars with two moons (one is visible in the above pictures, the other is hidden in the shadow of the edge), then Tiamat at the place of the current asteroid belt (refer to the Enuma Elish for that), then Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptun and at last the smaller Pluto. The special details of this depiction (earth with moon at the third place followed by Mars with two moons and the planet Pluto depicted smaller) are to consider as proof that it is a depiction of our Solar system.

  • The ancient Mesopotamians would not have been able to see Neptune or Pluto, so this is clearly wrong.
    – cmw
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 4:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.