The Ancient Astronaut theory, first proposed in 1919, explores the possibility that Extra-Terrestrials visited our ancestors. Since 1919 the phenomenon theories has been popularized by authors like Erich Von Daniken (Chariots of the Gods?) and most recently by the History Channel hit Ancient Aliens.
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Over the past 8 seasons the series has turned millions of curious viewers into loyal fans and has become a pop-culture phenomenon. However, the theory has received considerable criticism from some parts of the scientific community. The Smithsonian Institute bluntly classifies the whole subject as pseudo-science and renowned scientist Carl Sagan had this to say about Von Daniken:
“I hope for the continuing popularity of books like Chariots of the Gods? in high school and college logic courses, as object lessons in sloppy thinking. I know of no recent books so riddled with logical and factual errors as the works of Von Däniken” – Carl Sagan
10. Saqqara Bird
Supposedly, this wooden artifact is not the model of a bird at all (despite the beak and eyes); it is a small scale model of a glider or airplane, thus proving the ancient Egyptians had the power of flight. The show goes on to explain that many advanced tests, utilizing such space-age technologies as wind tunnels, have proven that with the addition of some important features, the “bird” is aerodynamic. The show also successfully tested a larger-scale version and found that a model made out of different materials, and with a horizontal, stabilizing tail-wing, would fly.
The conventional analysis of this artifact is that it may have been a toy, a ceremonial object, or a weather vane. And that it is undoubtedly the depiction of a falcon, a common representation of the Egyptian deities Ra and Horus.
9. Aliens VS Dinosaurs
This episode, “Aliens and Dinosaurs”, features scenes like something straight out of a mashup of Jurassic Park and Independence day. It also enlists the help of young-earth creationist Willie Dye, billed on the program as an archaeologist, to describe how humans and dinosaurs were alive at the same time (of course using evidence and arguments that have been proven false). While there is some speculation in the scientific community as to what exactly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs the ideas put forward by the show are certainly not any of them.
Smithsonian Magazine took exception to this particular episode, pointing out the incorrect assumptions that aliens may have been running an experiment with the dinosaurs or that they directed an asteroid towards earth in order to make way for humans. At a certain point the show decides that those theories might be too complicated, and that the aliens may have just nuked the dinosaurs.
8. Jonah And The USO
Ancient astronaut theorists love analyzing old religious texts. The bible in particular, is an infinite well of inspiration. While many bible stories are based on some kernel of truth, the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale is one of the more impossible stories. In fact, some people believe the tale of Jonah to be a parody of earlier Greek myths. However not only do Ancient Aliens and Giorgio Tsoukalos believe the story of Jonah’s miraculous survival to be true, but that there is even more to it. Tsoukalos points out that in some descriptions, Jonah notices that the “ribs” of the whale are gleaming bronze.
“Jonah was not, in fact, swallowed by a whale… but a U.S.O. An unidentified submersible object.”
7. The Grim Reaper Was An Alien – And The Aliens Caused The Plague
This is the kind of thing that people in the middle ages might have believed while the black death was still decimating the European population. They were willing to blame demons, witches, and at one point they even blamed the Jews. Though modern science blames fleas carrying the Yersinia pestis bacteria for the outbreak, ancient astronaut theorists, like author William Bramley, blame extra-terrestrials.
To explain how the aliens infected us the theory utilizes another fringe favorite: chem-trails. Basically, humans were sprayed with toxic fumes the same way farmers spray their crops with pesticides. Possibly for the same reason, or maybe just for the sake of experimentation.
People may also remember that the image of the “grim reaper” emerged around this time. Apparently some victims of the plague, in their delirium, hallucinated images of a dark hooded figure. In the hysteria people also reported hooded figures appearing in the wheat fields outside of towns right before the plague struck them. The Grim Reaper soon became the most iconic personification of death. Some theorist suggest that if it wasn’t chem-trails, perhaps the extraterrestrials elected for a more “personal” touch and gassed our food supply from up close, dressed in black cloaks. According to theorists, period stories of lights in the sky or visitations from the Virgin Mary (an alien) offer more proof that Aliens were involved with the Plague.
6. Pakal’s Rocket
K’inich Janaab’ Pakal was the ruler of the Mayan city-state of Palenque in the 7th century C.E. Upon his death he was placed inside an ornate sarcophagus and sealed in a tomb within the Temple of Transcriptions. When archaeologists uncovered his tomb they remarked on the decorative sarcophagus lid calling it an example of classic Mayan art. The common iconography made it easy for scholars to interpret the symbols and themes of the artwork. Everything from the background patterns to the posture of the subject was understood and accounted for.
On the other hand, ancient astronaut theorists consider this one of their best pieces of evidence. According to Erich Von Daniken the artwork is “Incredible… absolutely proof for extra-terrestrials”. According to other theorists the artwork on the lid of Pakal’s sarcophagus depicts an astronaut ascending into space on a rocket. Allegedly his hands are manipulating controls, his feet are on pedals, he is wearing a breathing tube, and there is exhaust firing out the bottom of the rocket. The problem with the Ancient Alien theory is that each example was either a well known Mayan symbol or was just too far of a stretch. Also, would extra-terrestrials really be using a technology so primitive as a rocket?
5. Hybrid Creatures Are The Result Of Genetic Engineering
Historically there has been no shortage of “mythical beasts”. Many stories tell of animals like the griffin (half lion, half eagle), or Medusa, a monster from Greek mythology whose hair was a tangles mess of venomous snakes. Ancient religious figures were often depicted as hybrid creatures. In fact, almost all of the Egyptian gods sported animal heads on top of their human bodies.
Some Ancient Astronaut theorists think these tales have an explanation; Ancient Alien genetic experimentation. Humans themselves have begun to dabble in genetic engineering, so, they claim, is it so crazy to believe ancient visitors would have done the same? If the rest of the theory is true, it wouldn’t be a surprise. However, the theory rests on the fact that any of these creatures even existed at all. Even today we tell silly stories of creatures like “Nessy” or Big-Foot.
4. Teotihuacan Is A Computer… Or Something.
Teotihuacan is an ancient Toltec city near what is now Mexico City. Much of the cite is devoted to religiously inspired temples and monuments, including the famous Pyramid Of The Sun. Ancient Astronaut theorists believe it is also a giant computer circuit board. This is because, well, the layout “resembles one”. Numerous articles and documentaries from the community reference this fact.
What about Teotihuacan specifically looks so much like a circuit board? Actually, not too much. The theory also claims that some of the temples are “processors” without much of a reason why this is the case. But the theorists go further; pointing out that mica was incorporated into some of the structures and a few underground rooms were filled entirely with mica (an electrical insulator). However, many ancient civilizations were known to use mica.
3. Dendera Light
This one is very similar to “Pakal’s Rocket” in that the theory begins with an image that allegedly depicts modern technology. However, unlike Pakal’s Rocket, this one actually does look a lot like the modern artifact it is purported to depict: a light bulb.
But the problem here is that it also looks like something else… a depiction of Egyptian mythology using typical Egyptian symbols. Specifically, an Egyptian version of the “creation” myth. In the Heliopolitan version; Atum, (sometimes in the form of a serpent) emerges from a Lotus flower into the universe, or as it was thought, a bubble of air in a dark infinite ocean.
But beyond on that, the other evidence that suggests the Egyptians had the power of electric light also fall flat. First of all, despite there being other relatable images of the creation story, this is the only image that looks anything like a light bulb. This would be surprising if the Egyptians possessed any knowledge of such an intriguing device, let alone used it to light their pyramids/temples.
“In fact a recent ceiling cleaning conducted at the Temple of Hathor, which is the same temple where the so-called light bulb relief is found, they uncovered a brightly colored ancient ceiling painting that had never before been noticed.
What was covering it up you ask? I will quote them directly, they said the ceiling was covered with “hundreds of years of black soot” That’s kind of funny, you have to admit.” -AncientAliensDebunked.com
2. Nazis Had Help From Extra-Terrestrials
Did Adolf Hitler base his plans for world domination on secret extra-terrestrial knowledge? – Ancient Aliens actually asks that. This may sound way out there, however, the “Nazi UFO” theory has a lot of support. As it turns out, the Nazi’s had some pretty advanced technology when it came to rockets. They developed both the V1 and V2 rockets during the war and used them with great success against England and France. According to Ancient Aliens: German rocket scientist, Herman Oberth claimed that this technology was only possible because they had help from “beings from another world”. This, of course, suggests that the Nazi’s had contact with Aliens. (However, the origin of this quote is under debate.)
The subject of the Nazis comes up in the UFO Community quite a bit. The term “Foo-Fighter” refers to the numerous stories of strange aerial phenomenon observed by allied pilots over German. And the idea that the Germans were trying to build a fleet of saucer shaped craft called “Haenebu” has been around for a while. According to these theories the technology for such a craft, was acquired when German engineers reverse engineered an alien spacecraft that crashed in the woods of Bavaria.
1. The Sword In The Stone
The legend of the sword in the stone is one of the most famous tales of King Arthur. However, the Celtic legend of a magical weapon, only movable by one divine figure, is not necessarily an original. It is quite similar to the Norse god Thor’s hammer, and countless other folk-tales. In addition, historians have been hard pressed to find any evidence that King Arthur himself actually existed.
But according to some proponents of the Ancient Astronaut theory, not only is the story of King Arthur pulling a magic unmovable sword from a stone absolutely true, it also involved aliens. Some other notable suggestions made along these lines include; Arthur’s sword Excalibur, as well as Joan of Arc’s sword, were “Alien laser weapons”, and that the Arthurian figure Merlin may have been an alien.