At the inauguration of a new airport in southern Dhi Qar, Iraqi transportation minister Kadhem Finjan al-Hamami asserted that Sumerians, the members of an ancient Iraqi civilization, built “the first airports” and “Sumerian spaceships used to launch from here towards the other planets” 7,000 years ago.
“It’s a long story, maybe you don’t know about it. Maybe even people from Dhi Qar don’t know – the first airports that were built on planet Earth were built in the 5th Century BC in Dhi Qar,” al-Hamami said, in an Al Jazeera translation. “There were Sumerians who launched spaceships [from Dhi Qar] and headed to other worlds,” he added, arguing that all the world’s angels “were Sumerian” and suggesting that Sumerians had discovered a new planet during their time.
هل تصدقون أن هذا المهرطق هو وزير النقل العراقي الحالي
الملائكة سومريون !👆
وعندهم مركبات فضائية ..
والحمد لله على نعمة العقل pic.twitter.com/KBw3EGHNsx
— عامر الكبيسي (@amer_alkubaisi) September 29, 2016
There is scant evidence of such a claim. Al Jazeera noted that his remarks “puzzled onlookers and even appeared to confuse his entourage.” The Saudi-based news outlet Al Arabiya notes that his claims “have been found to be inaccurate,” as al-Hamami cited an ancient history professor who did not mention anything about extraterrestrial activity in his works, only the fact that evidence indicates ancient Sumerians enjoyed a healthy interest in astronomy.
The claim that ancient civilizations possessed advanced space travel technology is a popular one among some global alien-friendly communities, however. Legendary Times magazine — the premier ancient astronaut theory publication in the United States, has published articles arguing that Sumerians discovered “the recorded home of our human ancestors,” a planet named “Nibiru” which no modern scientists have evidence of existing.
“Ancient Sumeria and Babylon (modern-day Iraq), historically-speaking, was the ‘first’ place we can trace extraterrestrial contacts in mankind’s remote past,” a 2006 Legendary Times article argued, suggesting that “experts in the field of ET research” believe the 2003 invasion of Iraq was an attempt to preserve evidence that ancient human beings had contact with extraterrestrials.
Legendary Times magazine founder Giorgio Tsoukalos, known to American audiences as the host of the History Channel program Ancient Aliens, has suggested that both ancient Sumerian and Egyptian cultures had access to extraterrestrial technology. “With the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, there’s no evolution in technology,” he argues. “They didn’t start somewhere and then gradually perfect their style. All of those things just suddenly popped up as if they knew perfectly well what they were doing.”
With the exception of the aforementioned Iraqi transportation minister, these are not commonly held beliefs among mainstream historians or politicians — an online column in the Smithsonian has referred to Tsoukalos’s program Ancient Aliens as “some of the most noxious sludge in television’s bottomless chum bucket.”
Internet users, the Middle East Monitor notes, have responded with similar vitriol to al-Hamami’s claims, suggesting that his words highlight the incompetence of a government that has allowed Iran-backed Shia militias and the Islamic State to thrive. “Iraqi transport minister’s hallucinations about spaceships in Nasiriyah proves that the [Haidar] Al-Abadi government is full of fools, hashish addicts and the most worthless of humanity,” the Monitor quotes one social media user as stating.
Al-Hamami’s claims recall similar historical revisions from a much more prominent world leader: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has argued on multiple occasions that Muslims discovered America. Erdogan cites a diary written by Christopher Columbus where he compares Caribbean islands to the domes of a mosque, incorrectly asserting that Columbus said he found literal mosques in the West Indies. Historians have soundly rejected this claims, as has the Cuban government, where Erdogan used his claim to argue the communist government should allow Turkey to construct new mosques to convert locals.