In our time, the public’s imagination has been fired up with visions of alternative and allegedly hidden histories involving ancient but unacknowleged advanced human civilizations and the influence of ancient aliens on our development.
In the 1950s Harold T. Wilkins presented notions of hostile UFO activity with his other works focused on Atlantis or another imagined “white god” pre-Colombian civilization of white people.
In the 1970s Erich Von Daniken made “ancient astronauts” a household name and a little later Zecharia Sitchen brought forth what would become a popular narrative of ancient aliens operating in the specific setting of the first civilization to rise along the Tigris-Euphrates.
Today, we have had several years of the History Channel bring us via its Ancient Aliens show a detailed elaboration of the imaginings of these pioneers, one of whom, Erich Von Daniken, remains with us and with descendent scholars on that show.
Here are their basic points:
~Extraterrestrials created homo sapiens through genetic engineering of hominids.
~Extraterrestrials inspired and guided mankind’s first civilizations and spurred the development of our technologies.
~Extraterrestrials are the gods mentioned in ancient texts and inspired the creation of our religions.
~Extraterrestrial factions, according to so-called “ancient alien theorists”, are at war with each other with us in the middle as manipulated proxies.
(Erich Von Daniken from The Gold of the Gods, pg 59: “If we [in ancient texts] replace the word ‘heaven’ by the modern concept ‘universe’, then in the twinkling of the eye the legends and myths of wars between the gods become gigantic battles in the universe between 2 hostile camps…”)
The only way to address this is to review ancient texts, records, and the archaeological sites that trigger the imaginative speculations of ancient alien theorists. While they make record breaking leaps with unfounded and unnecessary imaginings, there ARE some curious signs.
Various endogenous cultures have pushed back against ancient alien notions that seemingly rob people of the dignity of being responsible for the creation of their own culture.
Here is some reporting of that, from:
Excerpt from article:
“The popularization of the theory of alien architects as having a basis in science rather than consisting of only fictional musing can be attributed to Swiss author Erich von Däniken’s 1968 publication of the book Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past.Originally published in German and subsequently translated into English, it was one of the first popularly sold books to suggest that extraterrestrial life forms, not humans, built structures associated with our ancient civilizations. In 1966, Carl Sagan and Iosif S. Shklovskii had already speculated that contact with extraterrestrials might have occurred in their book Intelligent Life in the Universe, but von Däniken took this theory to new levels.”
“A potent combination of tabloids and television helped to make von Däniken’s book a bestseller in the United States. Historian of pseudoscience John Colavito has remarked that while the book became a bestseller in Europe, it was the National Enquirer’s underscoring of von Däniken’s work through a serial series published in the tabloid that introduced it to readers in the US in 1970. Three years later, NBC aired an adaption of the book retitled In Search of Ancient Astronauts (featuring a cast of all white men) which translated and visualized pseudo-theories of archaeology and science for broad popular consumption.
It is notable that many (though not all) extraterrestrial theories focus on archaeological structures at sites within Egypt, Africa, South America, and North America — a fact that has led some academics to see beliefs in ancient alien engineers as a stalking horse for racism. In a piece for the online journal The Conversation rather frankly titled “Racism is Behind Outlandish Theories about Africa’s Ancient Architecture,” Julien Benoit, a postdoctoral researcher in vertebrate paleontology at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), addressed the continued harm of these theories:
Firstly, these people try to prove their theories by travelling the world and desecrating ancient artefacts. Secondly, they perpetuate and give air to the racist notion that only Europeans – white people – ever were and ever will be capable of such architectural feat.”
While the AA notions can be seen to be casually shared widely, I hope people deepen their study of our history and culture. That is the only real antidote for being taken in by false notions.
The first paper covers India, Persia, and the southern Russian steppes.