Was mankind the beneficiary of advanced knowledge? Were we visited by well-meaning aliens who traveled great distances to our little planet amongst the stars? Science fiction and alien documentaries aside, there are some weird things out there. Let’s see what we find…
In the late 1960s, well 1968 to be precise, a plump man with round childlike eyes and a mischievous curiosity about ancient structures published a book called Chariots of the Gods? He was Erich von Däniken, a Swiss hotel manager and part-time author who was about to cause a major upset in the bestseller lists.
His book hypothesized a past where alien beings had visited earth and provided a fledgling humanity with the tools and knowledge to create civilizations. A theory also known as the paleocontact hypothesis, it’s been an eyesore for mainstream scientists and archaeologists, and a weekend picnic gala for the public.
Yet, is there no truth to these claims? Why do pyramids all over the globe have similar characteristics? Why do the Pumapunku ruins contain stones which are as hard as diamonds, and yet so precisely engineered so as to draw blood from unwary fingers scraping against them? Ever seen an episode of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel? That adorable series full of speculation, striking imagery, and wild haired researchers. Getting a bit ahead of ourselves are we? Let’s slow down and try to understand how all this hoopla began.
An Introduction to Ancient Astronaut Theories
Although the proverbial poop hit the fan with the success of Däniken’s book, there had always been such speculation in the shadowy world of alternate science and history. Charles Fort, one of the pioneering investigators into paranormal phenomena had said something quite disturbing as early as 1915. Known for his critical, stoic observances, it’s a little disconcerting to know that he thought – The Earth is a farm. We are someone else’s property.
Another pre-Däniken author was Harold T. Wilkins, who believed that a lost race of White Gods once roamed ancient South America, and were the builders of the fabled city of Atlantis. Yet, even as late as the 1960s, there was commentary on ancient advanced races. One of these was the venerable doyen of astronomy, Carl Sagan, who wrote of the possibility that there may have been human-alien contact during prehistory.
However, von Däniken truly overturned the applecart with Chariots of the Gods? It made striking interpretations of ancient history and of the very basis of civilization itself. Chariots of the Gods? had talk of alien adventurers visiting early humans, constructing or helping to build massive structures like the Giza pyramids, Stonehenge, and the temple complex of Pumapunku. He was followed by writers like Zecharia Sitchin, who claimed to have decoded ancient Sumerian texts, and they spoke of a race of beings called the Anunnaki.
Over the decades, many writers have followed the trail blazed by the likes of Däniken, and this sub-genre of speculative, pseudo-historical writing has become a veritable cottage industry. So, are these claims just fantasy? Evidence, although unproven and unsubstantiated, exists in plenty all over the world, if only one has a mind to look, a full stomach, and a high-speed Internet connection.
Hello Earthlings! – Sego Canyon, Utah (5500 BC)
Artistic representations of humanoid figures have often been cited by the proponents of the ancient alien theories, as pointers toward extraterrestrial visitation. These paintings can be found in several places across the globe, and are not limited to cultures or races. The image here is from the Sego Canyon, Utah and dated around 5500 BC. The figures look pretty alien, except for their general humanoid form. Even more bizarre are the cave paintings in Val Camonica, Italy.
These 10,000-year old drawings show human-shaped figures with a bulbous dome-like apparatus over their heads, an artifact similar to the modern space helmet. Was it just the imagination of our cave-dwelling forefathers or were they witness to a close encounter of the third kind?
Even spookier are the Wondjinas of Australia. Part of the ritual paintings of the Mowanjum tribe, these humanoid figures look very much like our present-day gray alien. Large heads and slim, almost frail bodies, with black wraparound eyes, the Wondjina are the bringers of monsoon, and can mold the land to their will. They are painted even today by the aboriginal tribes to maintain a sense of continuity, and are considered sacred.
Moving on to more modern times, there are several depictions of flying saucers to keep one guessing. Probably the most famous of these is the painting, The Madonna with Saint Giovannino. It is attributed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, dating to the 15th century, and depicts Mother Mary looking down in supplication while a UFO hovers in the background. A man and his dog stare at the object. The man even has his hand lifted as if to shade his eyes from the object, and the dog seems to be barking. Another famous painting resides in the Visoki Dečani Monastery in Kosovo, Yugoslavia. Painted sometime in the 14th century, it depicts the crucifixion of Jesus, but with two flying vehicles in the sky above him. They are manned by humans who seem to be steering the craft. The image is spectacular with jets of light emanating from both objects.
Though these images don’t mean we were being helped along by aliens, they do make for interesting speculation.
Desert Drawings – The Nazca Lines
In the torrid deserts of southern Peru, an ancient, vanished civilization carved drawings in the earth. Not just any peyote-fueled scratchings in the mud either, these are hundreds of feet in diameter, and some are so huge that they have been photographed by orbiting satellites. Archaeologists date the drawings to around 400/650 AD. The lines have been made by removing the red topsoil to reveal the white-gray desert floor beneath, giving them a striking contrast in comparison to the stark, almost Martian landscape. There are lines in the sand miles long, and then there are complex figures of monkeys, hummingbirds, spiders, and even orcas. One geoglyph known as the Condor is 440 feet in length. Although these lines have been studied since the early part of the 20th century by archaeologists and historians, the Nazca lines gained notoriety after von Däniken’s bestseller discussed them in detail.
According to the ancient astronaut theory, these lines were made by the Nazcans who received guidance from hovering airships of extraterrestrials. It’s suggested that they might have served as landing strips for ancient alien crafts that were visiting earth. However, Professor Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky undertook the investigation of these lines and constructed similar geoglyphs using wooden stakes and strings, with a little help from the volunteering student body.
The purpose of the Nazca lines remains shrouded in mystery, although there is speculation that they were part of religious ceremonies, or offerings to the Gods. What is a bit unnerving is this; there are not just lines in the Nazca desert, whole tops of hillsides have been leveled, to create flat stretches of land, some miles long. No matter how skeptical one may be, they sure do look like modern landing strips. The sheer logistics of such a task seems herculean for a civilization living in the desert, struggling for survival in harsh conditions. Or maybe they were just bored?
Clues in Religion
Apparently, ancient astronauts are being seen in religion and mythology too. It does require some interpretation though, no sacred text explicitly declares that there has been any contact. Any such claim is purely from the attempt at extrapolating the religious descriptions of incredible happenings to technologies available today, or maybe to alien beings.
The Book of Ezekiel from the Old Testament of the Holy Bible is often cited as describing something otherworldly, albeit, as a divine visitation.
From Ezekiel 1:4 : I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north–an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal.
Ezekiel 1:5: and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man.
Ezekiel 1:14 – 1:15: The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
Morris Jessup, a UFO researcher first came up with this theory that Ezekiel is describing a descending spacecraft here, and the creatures are all aliens. The fire and brimstone can also be taken as exhaust and afterburners from the ship. Ezekiel was also taken for a ride in this chariot, and God granted him prophetic powers. We are in the deepest realm of speculation here folks, and it’s best to take our leave.
Another theory circulating in alien documentaries is that ancient Indians had access to advanced flight technology, and built intricate flying machines called Vimanas, which could be used for both military and civil purposes. The primary sources for such descriptions come from the Ramayana, where Prince Rama travels back to Ayodhya in the Pushpaka Vimana, a flying chariot of the vanquished Ravana. The epics also describe massive explosions which poisoned the land and water, and created winds of fire raging across the battlefield, what modern researchers think could be the use of thermonuclear weapons. Again, we are in la-la land here people, there is no extant proof to substantiate any of this.
Made in Alien?
The best proof is often presented in the form of ancient sites of building activity. Now, some of these structures are thousands of years old, and have faced the ravages of time pretty well. So well in fact, that people have been unable to destroy them. The Egyptian Sultan Al-Aziz Uthman had a go at the pyramid complex at Giza, but soon realized his forces were no match for it. Proponents of the paleocontact hypothesis often cite the construction of the pyramids as the work of aliens. Let’s take a look at some astonishing facts often explained as the work of our ET friends.
➤ Over 2,300,000 stone blocks were used in the construction of the largest pyramid, that of Khufu. They weighed between 2 to 30 tons each. Moving them would have been a real task.
➤ The Great Pyramid is aligned to true north with only a 3/60th margin of error. Such precision would have been hard to achieve with such a huge structure. For comparison, the Meridian Building at the Greenwich Observatory deviates from true north by 9/60th of a degree.
➤ What is truly amazing is that the Great Pyramid sits in the geometrical center of the earth, and was proposed as the prime meridian, losing out to Greenwich only because the latter was a busy seaport.
➤ Dividing the perimeter of the pyramid by twice its height gives a number which we know very well – pi. Amazingly, this figure is accurate to 15 digits.
The list could go on and on. The Great Pyramid has dimensions which can be used to calculate things such as the mass of the earth, the distance to the moon, and the earth’s polar radius, among several others. Does this mean they were built by aliens? Not necessarily. Ancient Egyptians had knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and stone cutting, to a degree which we are only now discovering. However, the debate rages on.
A relatively unknown megalithic site is the temple complex of Pumapunku near Tiwanaku, in Bolivia. Although the original temple is lost to time and terrain, there are several low walls and stone blocks still present at the site. The date of its construction is still under debate, although archaeologists consider it to be more than 1,500 years old. Moving on to the fun parts.
➤ The red sandstone blocks are huge, the largest weighs around 131 tons, is 7.81 meters long, and over a meter thick. Makes an Egyptian pyramid stone look almost conservative in comparison.
➤ The stones are not local to the site. Research shows that these large blocks came from the area around Lake Titicaca, almost 6 miles away. The smaller andesite blocks are thought to be from a quarry nearly 55 miles away. They were then carried up a steep mountain incline to their ultimate destination.
The architecture of Pumapunku has alien astronaut sympathizers smiling like all-knowing sages.
➤ The stones have been cut and fitted together with such precision that not even a knife blade can fit into the gaps. There is no mortar used, as the stones are cut to such exact measurements that they form natural load-bearing joints.
➤ Moreover, the stones are made of granite and diorite, anything harder will face competition from nothing less than a diamond. So how did the ancient Incas of Pumapunku carve/cast these stones?
However, such cutting and building techniques were being used during this same period by the Romans and even the Aztecs. Several other sites show a similar level of workmanship, if not the exact designs. Pumapunku is therefore not unique in its architecture, yet, the workmanship is undoubtedly excellent. Any special cutting techniques may have been lost to time, as the civilization disappeared without any significant records, except these ruins. How they transported these massive blocks of stone is another challenge to modern investigators, although several theories abound, which offer reasonable explanations.
The Moai are human figures carved from stone and erected at the perimeter of Easter Island, between the years of 1250 and 1500. The tallest of these statues is 33 feet in height and weighs 82 tons, and an unfinished Moai would have reached a height of 69 feet and weighed a cool 270 tons.
They were carved by the ethnic Rapa Nui people and transported from the center of the island to the island boundaries, a highly forested and mountainous terrain. Just to complete the picture, there are 887 of them.
The statues are believed to have been carved and transported during a time when almost the entire region was under heavy forest cover. This, combined with the fact that the Rapa Nui had tools like rollers, ropes and wooden platforms, is rich fodder for our alien support group theory. Although several explanations have been put forth and even experiments conducted, showing how the logistics could have been handled, the Moai of Easter Island invariably find themselves the talk of the town at ancient alien forums.
On the pastoral plains of Wiltshire, under clear open skies, stands a monument that has puzzled scientists and archaeologists for decades. One of the oldest man-made structures in the world, it is also one of the most mysterious.
Stonehenge is dated to have been built between 3000 to 2000 BC, though there is evidence that the earliest foundations may be even older. The ring of megalithic stones (today considered to be a burial site) stands as a monument to man’s amazing industry and motive power, even before the invention of the wheel. Or does it? There are some surprising facts about this ancient site.
➤ The stones, from 4 tons to a 150 tons in weight, were transported from quarries in Preseli Hills in Wales, a location almost 200 miles away.
➤ Stonehenge also has certain astronomical properties such as being oriented toward the solstices and equinoxes.
➤ Some theories suggest it may have been used as an ancient observatory, though that is disputed by mainstream archaeologists.
According to alien astronaut theorists, such a construction endeavor would have been impossible without interstellar help. Maybe, but there are some recent theories which may explain how neolithic man transported such massive blocks over great distances.
Researchers from the University of Exeter believe, that round ball-like stones found near similar ancient sites in Scotland may have been used in conjunction with wood planks and animal power to move the stones. Still there are several unanswered questions regarding Stonehenge, and due to its extreme age, they may forever remain so.
Time to cue the creepy X-files theme here and stare at the night sky. Are ancient astronauts real? Whatever proof we have can be interpreted in several ways, and since most of it is so old, their true purposes are very much lost in obscurity. Maybe the temple complex at Pumapunku is just that, a temple complex made by intelligent people with developed skills, far in excess of what we credit them with. Why do we consider our ancestors inept anyway? They got us this far, after all, without their knowledge of science and architecture, we would have gone the way of the dodo, with first-class tickets. Yet, if there were ancient aliens and they did help us, sincere thanks are in order, please visit again, we’ve got some insane issues down here these days. Peace.