The second book in the earth chronicles series – The Stairway to Heaven was a fascinating read. As a reader, I was enthralled by the theories that Sitchen puts forward but as a reviewer, I would split this book into two – theories that are backed by cuneiform tablets and suppositions that have no evidence whatsoever.
The books begins with an examination of Alexander the great’s quest for glory. As he moves his army through Europe and Central Asia, Sitchen reveals that he was in searching for something more than glory, an elusive spring/fountain of youth. He wanted to become an immortal, a god. And it was that quest that led him through Egypt, Central Asia and finally India. His reasoning seems convincing enough, though there is scant written evidence for this.
There are many chapters in this book that are devoted to the Egyptian funeral rites and the journey of the Pharaoh which was very interesting to read. And Sitchen puts forth his speculation – what if this journey really happened? What if the ancient scribes are really describing a journey that a pharaoh(s) made, though not to afterlife but to the heavens seated in a flying vehicle (ancient rocket)?
Next the book examines minutely the cuneiforms that describe Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the Sumerian Kings who too was on a quest for immortality. Gilgamesh is three-fourth God and one fourth human. Born to a goddess (annunaki woman) he yearns to join their ranks and blast off from the earth but he is not allowed to do so. Hence his quest for immortality begins. He journeys along with his friend to the Cedar forest, a place where the Anunakki land and take off towards the heaven. Using the location clues provided in the tablets, Sitchen believes this place to be the ancient temple of Baal called ‘Baalbeck’ located in Lebanon. A mysterious temple with unknown antecedents, many structures have been built on its foundation and destroyed, yet its bedrock is very ancient and old. Older than the traditionally held beliefs of human history!
What is surprising is that despite the strong Greek, Roman and Ottoman influence, this place is still known by its ancient name (though the name was changed to Heliopolis during Roman occupation).
Sitchen tries to plot Gilgamesh’s journey through the ancient words of the cuneiform and his quest for immortality reminded me of yet another story in Hindu mythology.
King Satyavrata (from Ikshavaku lineage) wanted to ascend to the heaven in his physical form but his Guru, Sage Vashishta refused to his request saying that it is possible to attain heaven only after death. Cursed by his guru’s son with a debilitating disease, Satyavrata wanders the forest desolate and forlorn. He meets Sage Vishwamitra in the forest who decides to help him. With the help of his mantras, Satyavrata ascends to the heaven but Indra refuses entry into heaven and he is thrown down. Angered by Indra’s insolence, Vishwamitra creates a whole new heaven for Satyavrata.
There are many such stories of immortality and the quest for the fountain of youth in our mythologies. For example, Yudhishtra was allowed entry into the heavens in his physical body while his brothers and wife were able to attain it after a physical death. Stories about people who live a extraordinary long life abound our scriptures. Ashwathama was cursed to be an immortal while Kripacharya, the guru of the Kurus was yet another one.
I couldn’t help but compare stories of Gilgamesh and those Enoch and Ezekiel (Prophets of Old Testament) with our own legends. This quest for immortal flesh has been going on, from ages unknown and our obsession for it might be because of a deep rooted memory of Gods who once came down to earth (ancient aliens).
Next the book moves towards Egypt’s great ancient wonder – The Great Pyramid. Why was it built? Who built it and the endless cycle of questions and mystery that surround it. Speculation about the pyramid has been around for centuries and many Egyptologists believe that it was built by Cheops because his name was etched in the heliographic found in the monument.
From this point on, speculation takes over. Sitchen believes that the heliographic was forged by the British explorer who gained entry into the pyramid hoping to find a treasure. While this could be very true, given the fact that many English explorers and treasure hunters had little knowledge or respect for the monuments as such, we really can’t be dead sure. Possibility of forging a heliographic are many and it has been done many times to fool authorities for glory and gain but one can’t be really sure about it at any point of time.
Leaving that point aside, Sitchen theorizes that the Pyramids of Giza was built by the Anunaki and they were beacons that was used to land their Chariots of Fire in the nearby spaceport. They were not built to bury the dead Pharaohs until much later. One curious fact that he points out was that while the perfect alignment of the Pyramid was architecture of the high order, none of the later pyramids could match or replicate the building technique of this ancient wonder. This does leave us wondering whether the later kings merely tried to copy the building design of the great pyramid rather unsuccessfully.
Plus Points: Loved the Pharaoh’s journey through afterlife and Gilgamesh’s adventures. Sitchen’s speculation and theories do ring right at many places
Minus Points: While hardcore ancient alien theorists will agree with everything that Sitchen puts forth, many may not, unless it is backed by strong historical evidence. So if you are a sceptic when it comes to alternate history and its very many theories then this book may not work for you. Just as I said with the first book of the series, you will need an open mind to read and analyze each theory.
Verdict: A must-read if you are a history buff.