Columbus, Ohio • Aug 21, 2014 •
Archaeology | No evidence of aliens helping ancient cultures
Tuesday January 28, 2014 8:42 AM
The Giza Pyramids near Cairo, Egypt
Did aliens visit Earth in ancient times? It’s possible.
The late Carl Sagan once argued that there was a “statistical likelihood that Earth was visited by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization at least once during historical times.”
A statistical likelihood is one thing. Is there any reliable evidence that any such thing ever actually happened?
So why do 3 out of 4 Americans believe there are signs that aliens have visited Earth in the past? I think there are two reasons. First and most fundamentally, when most people see a wonder of the ancient world, such as the Egyptian pyramids, they can’t imagine how our so-called primitive ancestors possibly could have built it.
Second, there are charlatans out there willing to take advantage of that lack of imagination by making exuberant claims that various cultural achievements in antiquity could have been accomplished only with the help of friendly aliens.
In the current issue of Skeptic magazine, documentary filmmaker Chris White shoots down a few of the most popular claims of past alien intervention.
For example, ancient alien enthusiasts find it unbelievable that Egyptians could have carved the huge stone blocks used to build the pyramids, especially since they didn’t have iron tools. Yet there is abundant archaeological evidence that shows teams of stonemasons used simple hammer stones to shape the blocks.
But fans of ancient aliens say that even if Egyptians somehow shaped the enormous blocks of stone, no mere humans could have moved them into place.
The truth, however, is indeed out there.
White explains that there are many ancient carvings that show “Egyptians using wooden sleds to move … blocks the size and shape of the ones used for the pyramids.” It is amazing what our ancestors could achieve with creativity, determination and a large workforce.
Believers in ancient aliens frequently point to an engraved stone slab from a Mayan tomb, which they claim depicts an astronaut at the controls of a spacecraft.
If you take the time to study the symbolism of the Mayan religion, however, it is clear that the “spacecraft” actually is the primordial world tree with a celestial bird perched in its upper branches. And the barefoot “astronaut” really is the deceased Mayan king descending into the underworld.
These examples are typical of what is offered as evidence of ancient aliens. The purveyors of this nonsense assume our ancestors were ignoramuses. If they accomplished some great thing, then aliens must have helped them.
Champions of ancient astronauts look through volumes of prehistoric art and cherry-pick images that bear — at best — only a superficial resemblance to something that could be construed as alien technology.
They give no thought to what those images represented in their original cultural contexts. Using this method, an Egyptian carving of a lotus flower can be reinterpreted as an electric light bulb, and a South American sculpture of a sucker-mouth catfish can be imagined to be a delta-wing fighter jet.
Archaeologists don’t take these views seriously, but by ignoring them, we allow 3 out of 4 Americans to buy into a fantasy.
Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.
This Week Only
Mamma Gulley (MammaG)
Thank you, Bradley. I am incensed that television programs parade such unscientific garbage as fact. Networks such at the History Channel should stick to factual history, not raving lunatics and their unsupported fantasies. There is zero evidence for ancient aliens, bigfoot, angels, ghosts, or gods.
Jerry Ross (Jerry_Ross)
Not according to my t-shirt! (from Columbus’ own Amorphia Apparel): http://controversy.wearscience.com/design/ufo/
Bob McGillicuddy (BobMcGillicuddy)
I too am incensed–at the total lack of knowledge demonstrated by the author of this article. If he had actually read Sagan’s book, he’d know that Sagan concluded that it is likely Earth is visited by spacefaring civilization (i.e. “aliens”) every 10,000 years. Sagan also spends a great deal of time outlining precisely the evidence he uses to come to this conclusion. Sagan’s data, while compelling, is merely the tip of the iceberg. Further, the great pyramids present an unsolved mystery, notwithstanding the author’s reassurances that “ancient carvings” show how they were created. (They do not. And none are even remotely contemporary with the era in which the pyramids are supposed to have been contructed.) Sir Flinders Petrie wrote the “bible” on the pyramids, detailing their extraordinary precision, often down to a fraction of an inch. Many facts evident for anyone to peruse (such as the *fact* that the Khufu pyramid is aligned to the cardinal directions to a precision greater than the current Greenwich observatory!), but the author is clearly unwilling to be bothered by such data. Veteran machining engineer Chris Dunn has also proved that components of the Giza Plateau structures were designed with high speed drills and that some surfaces are more level than can be achieved with modern technologies. Evidence of aliens? Perhaps not. But the idea that primitives in loin cloths pounded out perfection with soft copper implements is ridiculous on its face. This article is a waste of space, at best, and a dangerously misleading piece of propaganda at worst. Stick to writing about something you have a clue about, Mr. Lepper.
Shane Hammell (ShaneH)
Bob’s reaction us pretty common for the credulous, but I can’t understand why. What do they have invested in this idea? Citing a pseudoscience peddler and a nineteenth century racist is not an argument. This reaction is exactly why articles like this are important. I would like to address a few points: 1) Sagan expressing possibilities is not evidence for alien intervention; 2) if you’re going to say that the author’s information is wrong, I need to know why you’re so sure your knowledge of pyramid construction is right; 3) flinders Petrie published some pyramid stuff over 100 years ago, science doesn’t use “bibles” on any subject, and Petrie was a racist who had trouble conceiving of ancient Africans building such impressive monuments. Chris Dunn has a lot of crazy ideas, but not much evidence. 4)Accusing the author of ignoring data while using these sources to refute him is laughable. 5) the phrase ” primitives in loincloths” shows a profound ignorance of history. With this worldview, it’s no wonder these people need extraordinary alternate explanations. 6) the article is a ” misleading piece I propaganda?” Propaganda for what? Reason? I think it’s ridiculous that this article is even necessary, but obviously it is.
Doug De Long (alienreality)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to to direct your attention to the next exhibit and pay particularly close attention to it as this will be more than likely a learning lesson for you. In this exhibit we find a now extinct breed of **** sapiens namely the famed “Ignoramus Professorus” who was so bereft of imagination that they failed to see what was obvious before even the most uneducated person’s eyes. That there was no way in **** that primitive man with ropes and pulleys and sheer muscle alone could have possibly built our most ancient and mysterious structures when even in their modern times humans didn’t have the machinery necessary to accomplish that same feat some three to tour thousand years later! Yet they dug in their heels and continued to insist that primitive man armed with nothing better than dinner knives could have quarried and carved an enormous slab of limestone and made an obelisk out of it! The second and primary reason for his extinction was the fact that he was a political animal, ever willing to brush aside the truth or new enlightening evidence that would alter the established mindset of the “learned men” of his day. Because sadly this pitiful creature valued being right or being perceived to be right over the truth. Poor foolish Ignoramus Professorus. Humanity however is far better off without him.