Baalbek, situated in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon, undoubtedly presents us with what I consider to be one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world. It was the site of a most impressive Roman temple complex dedicated to Jupiter. However, the very name Baalbek suggests an earlier connection with the Caananite/Phoenician god Baal.
Peter Mungo Jupp has suggested that the original temple at Baalbek had involved Holy Prostitution in the service of Baal(z), while another commentator has even suggested a link with Indian yogis!(t)
Although the Roman remains are still impressive, it is some blocks in the lower and presumably earlier courses(d), that have continued to stump archaeologists, three of which are of cut limestone and are estimated to weigh up to 800 tons(c). (compare with the content of the link(k))
An article(q) by Gian J. Quasar regarding this strange masonry is worth a read.
Even more disturbing is a block still lying in a nearby quarry, where it was cut, and which has been calculated to exceed 1000 tons and named The Stone of the Pregnant Woman. Another block, in the same quarry, was only discovered in the 1990’s and is thought to be even heavier at 1200 tons(g).
In 1997, Andrew Collins ventured to suggest that Baalbek because of its high elevation “hints at the fact that it once served as some kind of platform for the observation of celestial and stellar events”(v). Collins expanded on his views in two later papers on his website(w)(x).
While the Baalbek monoliths are astoundingly impressive, they would appear to be outshone by the unfinished stele in the quarry at Yangshan in eastern China. Its estimated weight has been put as high as over 6,000 tons. Its creation is attributed to the reign of the Yongle Emperor in the early 15th century. However, others claim much greater antiquity, insisting that “although it is a limestone quarry, the stones were not cut and shaped with hammer and chisel, as you will see. They were machined.(y)!
Hugh Newman, a self-described ‘megalithomaniac’(r), has produced a paper(s) on the enormous Baalbek monoliths, in which he cites Graham Hancock speculatively dating the age of Baalbek megaliths at 12,000 years or more.
In March 2014, it was widely reported(e) that even heavier megaliths had been identified on Siberia’s Mount Shoria. However, the images I have seen suggest to me a natural origin(f). A short video clip is available(j).
We do not know how such huge objects were made or moved in ancient times. I often think that the bigger question is why did they bother to cut such large blocks! An online article(b) tells how the ingenuity of our ancestors produced the most powerful hand crane in history which multiplied the force of its operator 632 times. However, just because we do not yet know precisely how the Baalbek blocks were manipulated, does not justify wild claims that they were moved by high-tech Atlanteans or extraterrestrials. I may not know how stage magicians saw ladies in half, but that does not compel me to label them Atlantean or alien.
The most persistent question relating to all megalithic structures is “how did they manage to build them using such large heavy rocks and blocks”? Many ingenious solutions are on offer, but perhaps the most remarkable is that proposed by W. T. Wallington who demonstrated that using basic materials, which were available to the Egyptians, one individual can manipulate a 4500kg stone block. His website includes a remarkable video clip of his method. A review(n) of this video is worth a read. Another or comparable technology may have been used by Edward Leedskainin when he single-handedly built Coral Castle in Florida City(o). What is certain is that Leedskainin had no help from intergalactic visitors.
The late Alan Alford wrote an extensive paper on Baalbek(a). Immanuel Velikovsky and others have supported the idea that Baakbek was in fact the location of the biblical city of Dan, recorded as the most northern city of ancient Israel. Furthermore, the earlier notes on the subject by Velikovsky are also available online(i) in which he suggested that Baalbek was the temple built by Jeroboam in the north of the former Kingdom of Israel to compete with Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem in the south.
December 2014 found the latest estimate for the weight of the largest dressed stone found at Baalbek was calculated to be 1650 tons(h). It is clear that some explanation is required, hopefully, something better than the implication of extraterrestrial intervention. I would like to think that if we had alien visitors that their technology would be in advance of the ‘stone’ age. Surely they would have something better to produce than enormous foundation stones, which to my puny mind does not smack of the best that a civilisation capable of travelling across the cosmos would have to offer! I find the claims of Graham Hancock or Erich von Dániken equally unconvincing in this instance.
A sober well-referenced article outlining the arguments in favour of identifying the megaliths as Roman is available online(k) as well as supportive blogs from Frank Dörnenburg(m).
A UNESCO-sponsored hitech survey of the Baalbek site as part of a Risk Preparedness Strategy is now proposed so that the most appropriate remedial action can be taken in the event of natural deterioration or even war damage(l).
Brian Foerster’s website(p) has some remarkable images of the Baalbek masonry.
There are a number of YouTube videos featuring the Baalbek ruins(u).
(a) See: Archive 3414
(k) See: Archive 2653
(s) See: Archive 3409
Ancient Astronauts and their technology is often promoted as the inspiration behind aspects of many ancient religions such as the vimanas of the Hindus, the flying chariots of Ezekiel as well as the gods of Mesopotamia. The most widely known proponents of these ideas are Erich von Däniken and the late Zecharia Sitchin.
However, I must also include Josef Blumrich who proposed that the biblical Ezekiel had encountered an alien spaceship in his 1973 book . It is worth noting that a decade earlier Arthur W. Orton wrote The Four-Faced Visitors of Ezekiel which was recently republished  and offers similar ideas as Blumrich. Ulrich Magin has written a critical review of Bloomrich’s interpretation of Ezekiel’s visions(m).
Extraterrestrial visitors have been suggested by a few of the more imaginative and sometimes unscrupulous authors and their publishers, as the source of an advanced civilisation in the past, remembered today as Atlantis. Martin Brady makes such a claim in a brief paper available online(s).
Another example of this genre of b.s. is offered by Tricia McCannon, who delights us with an account of Atlantis as “the seat of a Great Galactic Empire, with many extraterrestrial races coming and going from its shores”, with lots more of the same(t).
Decades before von Däniken, Harold T. Wilkins was already suggesting prehistoric extraterrestrial visitors in the 1950s. He also wrote a couple of books about Atlantis. Not long after that, Egerton Sykes wrote some short articles for his Atlantis magazine(i) that were sympathetic to the idea of ancient astronauts.
R. Cedric Leonard is another Atlantis researcher who has written about Atlantis and ancient alien technology. A more recent attempt to link Atlantis with ancient astronauts came from Kevin Falzon, who closely follows Sitchin while locating Atlantis in his native Malta. Richard Mooney speculated on a connection between Atlantis and ancient aliens four decades ago.
However, Professor Emilio Spedicato may have added some degree of respectability to the concept when he wrote(u) “There are significant indications in worldwide traditions that intelligent people from planets within a few hundred light-years from Earth visited our planet and intelligently interacted with our biosphere”. He went on to claim that around 5500 BC some of these visitors landed in the Hunza valley of Pakistan where they engaged in a little genetic engineering which led to the ‘creation’ of Adam and Eve!
It should be noted that Plato’s account does not relate any technology beyond that of a Late Bronze Age society, whereas any civilisation founded by alien astronauts should offer some evidence of technologies at least equal to if not more advanced than that of our present-day capabilities.
Nevertheless, the idea of visitors from other worlds is often traced back to the 18th century and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)(e), who not only argued that extraterrestrial beings had visited our planet, but that he had met them! Greg Little has also recently(g) credited Swedenborg as the originator of the alien visitors’ idea, but Jason Colavito has rubbished Little’s article(f) and traced the concept of extraterrestrial encounters back to Lucian (125-180 AD) together with a few others before Swedenborg. Colavito and Little are not ‘best friends’, so I can only conclude that Colavito simply wished to undermine Little’s credibility as a researcher.
Ever since Kenneth Arnold saw ‘flying saucers’ near Mt. Rainier in 1947, his report paved the way for the ancient astronaut idea to evolve into the prolific writings of W. Raymond Drake and later Erich von Däniken, among others. In turn, this seemed to lead naturally to speculation of a possible linkage with Atlantis.
Jason Colavito has also drawn attention(a) to an exhibition held in Beijing in July 2012, which purported to offer evidence of these ancient visitors, and has published(b) the official U.S. Government view on ancient astronauts. He also offers an overview of alien theories and scathingly criticises their proponents(c). In 2011 Colavito published a free ebook with the self-explanatory title of The Origins of the Space Gods(j).
Colavito has also an interesting blog for 29/08/14 which quotes from a 1977 magazine that has an article suggesting that Jesus was an American astronaut who came back from the future, no doubt inspired by the film Planet of the Apes!(d)
Bill Hanson and Bert Thurlings are some of the more recent promoters of this idea of an alien origin for Atlantis. Hanson has been joined by the German researcher, Dieter Bremer, who claims(v) that the winged disks found in Sumerian art represent a space station, which crashed! Bremer also provides a spirited defence of The Manna Machine by George Sassoon (1936-2006) and Rodney Dale, combined with some bizarre theories regarding Christ. Incredibly, Bremer was invited to deliver a paper to the 2011 Atlantis Conference on the concentric circles of Plato’s Atlantean capital. He has published two books on his view of Atlantis[1022/3]. A more rational review of The Manna Machine is offered by Frank Dörnenburg(w).
The late Flying Eagle and his partner Whispering Wind specified the planet Xylanthia((aa) in the Sirius star system as the original home of a visitor who fell in love with an earthling and later became known as Poseidon!
The History Channel’s series entitled Ancient Aliens(y) has been heavily criticised on the Bad Archaeology website(x) and elsewhere. October 2011 saw another claim that the Maya had contact with extraterrestrials and that a documentary providing evidence is planned(z).
A sceptical review of extraterrestrial visitations was published in the 26th January 2014 edition of Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch(ab).
I feel compelled to include a quote from the Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson who wrote “The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that they have never tried to contact us.”
Perhaps even more disconcerting is the results of a survey(h) carried out by Chapman University that show 20% of Americans believe in ancient astronauts!
In 2020, we had a bizarre tweet from the billionaire, Elon Musk, claiming that “aliens built the pyramids”(l), I hope that this was a tongue-in-cheek comment!
Nevertheless, there are still (2021) attempts to promote the ancient astronaut idea using the same material that has failed to convince in the past(k).
An example of this is the 2023 book, Prehistory Explained  by Shane Leach, who recycled some of the ideas of von Däniken and Sitchin and then for good measure threw in the old suggestion that our Moon and the Martian moon Phobos are artificial. Of course, Atlantis was not ignored, which he placed in Antarctica and deemed that Stonehenge had been laid out like the Pleiades constellation!
More depressing is the study by Graham E.L.Holton, which surveyed the ancient astronaut literature and found nothing but superior white blond ‘gods’, usually male, such as Quetzalcoatl(n). This theme was continued in later UFO reports. Erich von Däniken is arguably the best-known of the ancient astronaut proponents, but he was not the first and certainly not the last(n). Jason Colavito has reviewed the racism expressed by von Däniken(o). Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews was equally critical of Däniken’s racist views(p).
2023 also saw the publication of Gods of the Bible  by Mauro Biglino, who also wrote a paper as ‘Author of the Month’ for Graham Hancock’s website(q). In both, he explores the Bible for evidence of ancient extraterrestrial visitors who interacted with humans, just as Zechariah Sitchin had done nearly half a century ago using Mesopotamian texts.
There are also some who have endeavoured to use the Palermo Stone as evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in our ancient past(r)!
Avi Loeb who is probably better known as a contributor to the Ancient Aliens TV series has recently (Nov. 2023) endeavoured to develop his ‘fame’, by offering by offering an alternative to the conventional theories offered to explain UFOs, now redesignated UAPs (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena). Jason Colavito(ad) has drawn attention to an attempt by Loeb to suggest that UFOs, sorry, UAPs, might be remnants from a very early highly technologically advanced civilisation.
“Any technological infrastructure left on the surface of Earth from that early civilization could have been demolished by geological activity including subduction, covered by water or tarnished by meteor impacts and weathering.
However, functional relics could have been preserved in space. Within the past century of modern technology, our civilization has launched many thousands of functional devices in orbit around Earth. A more advanced or longer-lived technological civilization could have used more sophisticated devices. Are there unfamiliar technological relics in our sky?” (ac).
For those interested in having a look at other entries touching on the subject of Atlantis and ancient astronauts see: Jack Countryman, Christos A. Djonis, Andrew Greig, Kurt Jurgen Hepke, Marius Lleget, Louis Millette, Semir Osmanagic, Hubert Zeitlmair.
(i) Atlantis, Volume 20, No.3, May/June 1967.
(m) Spaceship or God’s apparition? The Visions of Ezekiel – Mysteria3000 (link broken)
(t) https://web.archive.org/web/20200219183927/http://triciamccannonspeaks.com/atlantis-the-lost-civilization/ (link broken) See: https://www.triciamccannon.com/dvd-time-travel-ufos-atlantis-and-world-changes/
(ab) See: Archive 2098
Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010) was born in Russia and grew up in Palestine where he studied ancient Semitic languages and became one of the few to master the reading of the cuneiform writing of the Sumerians. After studying at the London School of Economics he took up a career in journalism. There are some questions regarding his academic credentials that were briefly explored by Frank Dörnenburg(g).
Then Sitchin began to develop his theory of ancient astronauts visiting earth in the past from the planet Nibiru (Planet X) and their colonisation of territory in what is now part of Iraq and the genetic manipulation of humans there. He based his theories on his interpretation of Sumerian cuneiform tablets. He also claimed that Nibiru had an orbit that took it to the outer reaches of the solar system and would return soon.
The late Alan F. Alford was initially an enthusiastic supporter of Sitchin’s ancient astronaut ideas but later recanted(k).
Understandably, his ideas provoked a storm of controversy that lasted until his death and after. For my part, I cannot understand how a race capable of space travel did not teach the Sumerian ancestors a writing system better than cuneiform and a medium better than clay tablets. Furthermore, the idea that the climate of a planet with such an unusual orbit could support the development of an advanced race capable of surviving the consequent extremes of temperature, is something I also find hard to comprehend.
In the late 1990s, the debate raged with many like Willard Van de Bogart who thought that “The work of Zechariah Sitchin is without question the most mind-stretching cosmology to date. Furthermore, it appears unchallengeable academically(t)“ On the other hand Rob Hafernik sums up Sitchin as being “just another nut making a living selling books that treat folks to a tale they want to believe in(u).”
Ian Lawton, the British researcher, wrote a rebuttal of Sitchin’s theories ten years ago(a). Further refutation came from Dörnenburg as well as on the PaleoBabble website(b) of Michael S. Heiser(e), a scholar in the fields of biblical studies and the ancient Near East. Heiser has another website with the blunt title of sitchiniswrong.com, which includes an overview of what he perceives as Sitchin’s errors(l).
Peter James commenting on Sitchin wrote that “He uses the Epic of Creation Enuma Elish as the foundation for his cosmogony, identifying the young god Marduk, who overthrows the older regime of gods and creates the Earth, as the unknown ‘Twelfth Planet’. In order to do this he interprets the Babylonian theogony as a factual account of the birth of the other eleven planets. The Babylonian names for the planets are established beyond a shadow of a doubt—Ishtar was the deity of Venus, Nergal of Mars, and Marduk of Jupiter—and confirmed by hundreds of astronomical/astrological tables and treatises on clay tablets and papyri from the Hellenistic period. Sitchin merrily ignores all this and assigns unwarranted planetary identities to the gods mentioned in the theogony. For example, Apsu, attested as the god of the primeval waters, becomes, of all things, the Sun! Ea, as it suits Sitchin, is sometimes planet Neptune and sometimes a spaceman. And the identity of Ishtar as the planet Venus, a central feature of Mesopotamian religion, is nowhere mentioned in the book—instead Sitchin arbitrarily assigns to Venus another deity from Enuma Elish, and reserves Ishtar for a role as a female astronaut.“(r)
In late 2017 and early 2018, a two-part article(i)(j) by two young researchers, Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer added further criticism of Sitchin’s linguistic capabilities. Later in 2018, Jarrell & Farmer published a third follow-up article(s). On March 13th, 2018, Clyde Winters also published on the same website a further refutation of Sitchin’s ‘ancient astronaut’ interpretation of the Sumerian seals.
In 2021, Jarrell & Farmer had their two-part article about the Anunnaki recycled by Ancient Origins(m)(n), in which they again concluded “that rather than making the Anunnaki the equivalent of the “Elohim” who created man in the Book of Genesis; they should more properly be compared to the Nephilim and the fallen angels described in Genesis Chapter 6, 1 Enoch, and other extra-biblical texts.”
Additional scathing criticism came from a Christian website claiming that Sitchin had an agenda coloured by his association with the Masonic Order!
Jason Colavito has also drawn attention(c) to the probability that Sitchin drew on the work of the British Assyriologist, George Smith (1840-1876), but distorted Smith’s conclusions to bolster his own theories.
Sitchin did not address the question of Atlantis directly until 2004 when he devoted a chapter of The Earth Chronicles Expeditions +, where he considered the Minoan Hypothesis and found it wanting. He did not propose any specific location but suggested that there was a possible transatlantic connection. In the same chapter three, he discusses at some length the Phaistos Disk and a possible association with Atlantis! However, his broader views did find favour with a number of fringe Atlantis commentators such as the late Rob Solarion, Andrews and Zeitlmair.
Another follower of Sitchin, Thomas Ashmore, has suggested that some of the Annunaki ‘gods’ were exiled to Scandinavia where their deeds were preserved in Norse mythology(d). Further support came from William L. Saylor in a series of articles(o).
Some of Sitchin’s other books such as The Twelfth Planet + and Genesis Revisited + are available online. In 2015, Sitchin’s niece, Janet Sitchin included some previously unpublished material of her uncle in The Annunaki Chronicles. A rather negative review(h) was offered by essayist Noel Rooney.
J. Douglas Kenyon, the editor of Atlantis Rising magazine, wrote a review (Issue 5) of Sitchin’s work and its reception by both the public and professionals.
>As of January 2024, Sitchin’s website was still live.(q)<
(d) Nexus, Dec 2013/Jan 2014, (p.41)
(g) See Archive 2909
(h) Fortean Times FT342, July 2016 (p.59)
(k) https://www.eridu.co.uk (link broken July 2018)
(r) Fortean Times No. 27 (Nov. 1978) & SIS Workshop No. 7, vol. 2, no. 2 (Nov. 1979)
In 1992 together with his geologist wife Edith, also now deceased, he published a work describing two cometary collisions in the 11th and 8th millennia BC. This is available online in German with the Introduction in English(d). Frank Dörnenburg has written a highly critical review (in German) of this book, concluding with the comments – Alles in allem habe ich mit ein wenig Internetsuche und Schulstoff die Basisbeweise des Buches aushebeln können, und diese nicht auf Fehler sondern unzweideutige Manipulationen der Autoren zurückführen können. “All in all I have with a little Internet search and schoolwork can nullify the basic proofs of the book, and this can not be reduced to unambiguous error but manipulation of the authors. Ich kann Autoren die bei so etwas derart dreist zu Werke gehen nicht trauen, und jeden Beleg nachzuprüfen ob sie wenigstens da die Wahrheit gesagt haben, dafür ist mir meine Zeit zu schade. I can authors with something so brazenly works will not be trusted, and verify each document if they have at least as telling the truth, but my time is too precious.” (Google translator) >Dörnenburg was not a lone critic, as many other academics offered negative and sometimes nasty reviews(k).<
With a mass of technical data, they also claim that there was an earlier impact around 11,000 BC when a comet struck the northern hemisphere in fragments.
Wikipedia offers an interesting critical review(b) of the Tollmanns’ theory, while the Golden Age Project established by Christian O’Brien presents a more sympathetic assessment(c).
These Late-Glacial impacts are suggested as the cause of the ‘Debacle’ flood in Ontario and the ‘Spokane Flood’ in the Columbia Basin. The Tollmans then claim that a second cometary impact occurred in 7552 BC that broke into seven pieces, one of which fell in the Atlantic. They maintain that the consequences of this event were the Flood of Noah and the Holocene Extinctions.
>Heinrich P. Koch has proposed a similar impact scenario as the Tollmann’s with an extraterrestrial body fragmenting before impacting the Earth, generating catastrophes on a global scale(j).<
The Tollmanns backed up their claim with the results from field studies around the Köfels crater in the Austrian Tyrol. In 2008 two British researchers, Alan Bond & Mark Hempsell, controversially proposed that the Köfels impact was caused by an asteroid that was recorded on an Assyrian cuneiform tablet, which itself is a copy of an earlier Sumerian document dated to 3123 BC. It is also suggested that the same event was responsible for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Towards the end of his life Tollman appears to have become somewhat irrational, for example, based on the prophecies of Nostradamus as well as a local ‘prophet’, Alois Irlmaier, together with the solar eclipse of August 11, 1999, and other signs, he predicted a global catastrophe for August 1999 and retreated to a bunkered existence, fearing the impending destruction(f).
Over ten years later other scientists claimed that a field of craters around Lake Chiemsee, in southeast Bavaria, was caused by fragments from a huge comet or asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere(a). The Wikipedia entry for the ‘Chiemgau impact hypothesis’ dismisses the hypothesis as an “obsolete scientific theory”. However, others beg to differ(g)(h).
>It should be noted that Lake Chiemsee is just north of the Austrian border and only about 50 km from the Köfels crater. Artefacts, including coins, seem to have been strongly heated on one side. This fact, together with Roman reports of stones falling from the skies and dendrochronology has suggested a date of around 200 BC for the event.>At the 2010 Quantavolution Conference in Paris, a conflicting date of 465 BC was proposed(i).<
(f) See Archive 2968) mixed German & English