Ancient astronauts

Ancient astronauts

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Some writers have proposed that intelligent extraterrestrial beings
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 have visited Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 or prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 and made contact with humans. Such visitors are called ancient astronauts or ancient aliens. Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of human culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, technologies
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s. A common variant of the idea is that deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 from most, if not all, religions are actually extraterrestrials, and their technologies were taken as evidence of their divine status.

These proposals have been popularized, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, by writers such as Erich von Däniken
Erich von Däniken
Erich Anton Paul von Däniken is a Swiss author best known for his controversial claims about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture, in books such as Chariots of the Gods?, published in 1968...

, Zecharia Sitchin
Zecharia Sitchin
Zecharia Sitchin was an Azerbaijani-born American author of books promoting an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts. Sitchin attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Anunnaki, which he states was a race of extra-terrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune...

, Robert K. G. Temple
Robert K. G. Temple
Robert K. G. Temple is an American author best known for his controversial book, The Sirius Mystery which presents the idea that the Dogon people preserve the tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system...

, David Icke
David Icke
David Vaughan Icke is an English writer and public speaker, best known for his views on what he calls "who and what is really controlling the world." Describing himself as the most controversial speaker in the world, he has written 18 books explaining his position, and has attracted a substantial...

 and Peter Kolosimo
Peter Kolosimo
Peter Kolosimo, pseudonym of Pier Domenico Colosimo was an Italian journalist and writer. Together with the later Erich von Däniken, he is ranked amongst the founders of pseudoarchaeology .Born in Modena, he lived in Bolzano for much of his life...

, but the idea that ancient astronauts actually existed is not taken seriously by most academics, and has received little or no credible attention in peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

ed studies.
Ancient astronauts have been widely used as a plot device
Plot device
A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot....

 in science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

.

Overview


Proponents of ancient astronaut theories often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of extraterrestrial
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 beings who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times, in that ancient astronauts acted as a “mother culture
Mother culture
A mother culture is a term for an early people and their culture, with great and widespread influence on later cultures and people. Though the original culture may fade, the mother culture's influence grows for ages in the future. Later civilizations either learn and build upon their old ways, or...

”. Ancient astronaut proponents also believe that travelers from outer space known as "astronauts" or "spacemen" built many of the structures on earth such as the pyramids in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and the Moai
Moai
Moai , or mo‘ai, are monolithic human figures carved from rock on the Chilean Polynesian island of Easter Island between the years 1250 and 1500. Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on stone platforms called ahu around the...

 stone heads of Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 or aided humans in building them.

Proponents argue that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from supposed gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is said to include archaeological artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 that they argue are anachronistic
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

 or beyond the presumed technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated (sometimes referred to as "Out-of-place artifacts"); and artwork
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

 and legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s which are interpreted as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies.

Certain mainstream academics have responded that gaps in contemporary knowledge of the past need not demonstrate that such speculative ancient astronaut ideas are a necessary conclusion to draw. Francis Crick
Francis Crick
Francis Harry Compton Crick OM FRS was an English molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, and most noted for being one of two co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, together with James D. Watson...

, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

, however strongly believed in what he called panspermia, the concept that earth was 'seeded' with life, probably in the form of bluegreen algae, by intelligent extraterrestrial species, for the purpose of ensuring life's continuity. He believed that this could have been done on any number of planets of this class, possibly using unmanned shuttles. He talks at length about this theory in his book Life Itself.

Thomas Gold
Thomas Gold
Thomas Gold was an Austrian-born astrophysicist, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society . Gold was one of three young Cambridge scientists who in the 1950s proposed the now mostly abandoned 'steady...

 a professor of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 suggested a "garbage theory" for the origin of life, the theory says that life on earth might have spread from a pile of waste
Waste
Waste is unwanted or useless materials. In biology, waste is any of the many unwanted substances or toxins that are expelled from living organisms, metabolic waste; such as urea, sweat or feces. Litter is waste which has been disposed of improperly...

 products accidentally dumped on Earth long ago by extraterrestrials.

The television series Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens is an American television series that premiered on April 20, 2010 on the History channel. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment, the program presents theories of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology and legends contain evidence of past...

 on the History channel features the main proponents in the ancient astronaut theory, and includes interviews with Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is a Swiss born Greek writer, television presenter, and proponent of the idea that ancient astronauts interacted with ancient humans...

, David Childress, Erich von Däniken
Erich von Däniken
Erich Anton Paul von Däniken is a Swiss author best known for his controversial claims about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture, in books such as Chariots of the Gods?, published in 1968...

, Dr. Steven Greer
Steven M. Greer
Steven M. Greer is an American physician and ufologist who founded the Orion Project and The Disclosure Project.-Biography:Greer claims that he is a contactee who has coined the term "close encounter of the fifth kind" to describe human-initiated contact with extraterrestrials.-The Disclosure...

 and Nick Pope
Nick Pope
Nick Pope worked for 21 years at the British Government's Ministry of Defence from 1985 to 2006. He is best-known for a job that he did from 1991 to 1994, where his duties included investigating reports of UFO sightings, to see if they had any defence significance...

.

Notable writers and publications


Paleocontact or "ancient astronaut" narratives first appear in early science fiction
History of science fiction
The literary genre of science fiction is diverse. Since there is little consensus of definition among scholars or devotees, its origin is an open question. Some offer works like the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh as the primal text of science fiction...

 of the late 19th to early 20th century. The idea was proposed in earnest by Harold T. Wilkins
Harold T. Wilkins
-Biography:Educated at Cambridge University in journalism, Wilkins regularly reported on the early television experiments of John L. Baird, during the years 1926—1932....

 (1954) and it received some consideration as a serious hypothesis during the 1960s, and has been mostly confined to the field of pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 and pop culture since the 1970s. Ancient astronauts appear as a feature of UFO religion
UFO religion
UFO religion is an informal term used to describe a religion that equates UFO occupants with gods or other semi-divine beings. Typically, the UFO occupants are held to be extraterrestials and that humanity either currently is, or eventually will become, part of a preexisting extraterrestrial...

s beginning with the Space opera in Scientology scripture (1967), followed by Raelism
Raëlism
Raëlism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim...

 (1974).

Erich von Däniken




Erich von Däniken was a leading proponent of this theory in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining a large audience through the 1968 publication of his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? and its sequels.

Certain artifacts and monumental constructions are claimed by von Däniken to have required a more sophisticated technological ability in their construction than that which was available to the ancient cultures who constructed them. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors. These include Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

, Pumapunku
Pumapunku
Pumapunku also called "Puma Pumku" or "Puma Puncu", is part of a large temple complex or monument group that is part of the Tiwanaku Site near Tiwanaku, Bolivia. In Aymara, its name means, "The Door of the Cougar"...

, the Moai
Moai
Moai , or mo‘ai, are monolithic human figures carved from rock on the Chilean Polynesian island of Easter Island between the years 1250 and 1500. Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on stone platforms called ahu around the...

 of Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

, the Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact...

, the ancient Baghdad electric batteries
Baghdad Battery
The Baghdad Battery, sometimes referred to as the Parthian Battery, is the common name for a number of artifacts created in Mesopotamia, during the dynasties of Parthian or Sassanid period , and probably discovered in 1936 in the village of Khuyut Rabbou'a, near Baghdad, Iraq...

.

Von Däniken claims that ancient art and iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 throughout the world illustrates air and space vehicles, non-human but intelligent creatures, ancient astronauts, and artifacts of an anachronistically advanced technology. Von Däniken also claims that geographically separated historical cultures share artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin. One such example is von Däniken's interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from the tomb of the Classic-era Maya
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 ruler of Palenque
Palenque
Palenque was a Maya city state in southern Mexico that flourished in the 7th century. The Palenque ruins date back to 100 BC to its fall around 800 AD...

, Pacal the Great
Pacal the Great
K'inich Janaab' Pakal was ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology...

. Von Däniken claimed the design represented a seated astronaut, whereas the iconography and accompanying Maya text
Maya script
The Maya script, also known as Maya glyphs or Maya hieroglyphs, is the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, presently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered...

 identifies it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree
Wacah Chan
World trees are a prevalent motif occurring in the mythical cosmologies, creation accounts, and iconographies of the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica...

 of Maya mythology.

The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as reactions to encounters with an alien race. According to his view, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 and the aliens themselves to be god
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

s. Von Däniken claims that the oral and written traditions of most religions contain references to alien visitors in the way of descriptions of stars and vehicular objects travelling through air and space. One such is Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

's revelation in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, which Däniken interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft.

Von Däniken's theories became popularized in the U.S. after the NBC-TV documentary In Search Of Ancient Astronauts hosted by Rod Serling
Rod Serling
Rodman Edward "Rod" Serling was an American screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form...

 and the movie Chariots of the Gods
Chariots of the Gods (film)
Chariots of the Gods is a 1970 West German documentary film directed by Harald Reinl. It is based on Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods?, a book that theorizes extraterrestrials impacted early human life...

.

Critics argue that von Däniken misrepresented data, that many of his claims were unfounded, and that none of his core claims have been validated.

Zecharia Sitchin


Zecharia Sitchin's series The Earth Chronicles, beginning with The 12th Planet, revolves around Sitchin's interpretation of ancient Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 and Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern texts, megalithic sites, and artifacts from around the world. He theorizes the gods of old Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 were actually astronauts from the planet "Nibiru", which Sitchin claims the Sumerians believed to be a remote "12th planet" (counting the Sun, Moon, and Pluto as planets) associated with the god Marduk
Marduk
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

. According to Sitchin, Nibiru continues to orbit our sun on a 3,600-year elongated orbit. Sitchin also suggests that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the shattered remains of the ancient planet "Tiamat
Tiamat
In Babylonian mythology, Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû to produce younger gods. It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is 'creatrix', through a "Sacred marriage" between salt and fresh water,...

", which he claims was destroyed in one of Niburu's orbits through the solar system. Modern astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 has found no evidence to support Sitchin's claims.

Sitchin claimed there are Sumerian texts which tell the story that 50 Anunnaki
Anunnaki
The Anunnaki are a group of Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian deities...

, inhabitants of a planet named Nibiru, came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago with the intent of mining raw materials, especially gold, for transport back to Nibiru. With their small numbers they soon tired of the task and set out to genetically engineer laborers to work the mines. After much trial and error they eventually created homo sapiens sapiens: the "Adapa
Adapa
Adapa was a Babylonian mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story is first attested in the Kassite period .-Roles:...

" (model man) or Adam
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 of later mythology. Sitchin contended the Anunnaki were active in human affairs until their culture was destroyed by global catastrophes caused by the abrupt end of the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 some 12,000 years ago. Seeing that humans survived and all they had built was destroyed, the Anunnaki left Earth after giving humans the opportunity and means to govern themselves. Modern archaeologists and experts in the ancient Sumerian culture and language reject every one of these claims insisting Sitchin had simply invented a non-existent Sumerian mythology, that the texts and tablets which Sitchin described do not actually exist, and that the texts of ancient Sumer, Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

, and Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 do not contain any of these stories or even variations on them. It has also been pointed out that many of Sitchin's translations of Sumerian and Mesopotamian words are not consistent with Mesopotamian cuneiform bilingual dictionaries, produced by ancient Akkadian scribes. The Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford has made available an online searchable database with English translations of the entire body of Sumerian literature for comparison.

Robert Temple


Robert K. G. Temple's 1976 book, The Sirius Mystery
The Sirius Mystery
The Sirius Mystery is a book by Robert K. G. Temple first published by St. Martin's Press in 1975. It presents the hypothesis that the Dogon people of Mali in west Africa, preserve a tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system.These beings, who are...

 
argues that the Dogon people
Dogon people
The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000 The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and...

 of northwestern Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 preserved an account of extraterrestrial visitation from around 5,000 years ago. He quotes various lines of evidence, including supposed advanced astronomical knowledge inherited by the tribe, descriptions, and comparative belief systems with ancient civilizations such as ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 and Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

. His work draws heavily on the studies of cultural anthropologists Marcel Griaule
Marcel Griaule
Marcel Griaule was a French anthropologist known for his studies of the Dogon people of West Africa, and for pioneering ethnographic field studies in France....

 and Germaine Dieterlen
Germaine Dieterlen
Germaine Dieterlen was a French anthropologist. She was a student of Marcel Mauss and wrote on a large range of ethnographic topics and made pioneering contributions to the study of myths, initiations, techniques , graphic systems, objects, classifications, ritual and social structure.She is most...

.

His conclusions have been criticized by scientists, who point out discrepancies within Temple's account, and suggested that the Dogon may have received some of their astronomical information recently, probably from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an sources, and may have misrepresented Dogon ethnography.

Shklovski and Sagan



In their 1966 book Intelligent Life in the Universe astrophysicists I.S. Shklovski
Iosif Shklovsky
Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky was a Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist...

 and Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 devote a chapter to arguments that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history. However, Shklovski and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven.

Shklovski and Sagan argued that sub-lightspeed interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late '60s; that repeated instances of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth were plausible; and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with outsiders. Additionally, Shklovski and Sagan cited tales of Oannes, a fishlike being attributed with teaching agriculture, mathematics, and the arts to early Sumerians, as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of paleocontact due to its consistency and detail.

In his 1979 book Broca's Brain, Sagan suggested that he and Shklovski might have inspired the wave of '70s ancient astronaut books, expressing disapproval of "von Däniken and other uncritical writers" who seemingly built on these ideas not as guarded speculations but as "valid evidence of extraterrestrial contact." Sagan argued that while many legends, artifacts, and purported out-of-place artifacts were cited in support of ancient astronaut theories, "very few require more than passing mention" and could be easily explained with more conventional theories. Sagan also reiterated his earlier conclusion that extraterrestrial visits to Earth were possible but unproven, and perhaps improbable.

UFO religions


Various new religious movement
New religious movement
A new religious movement is a religious community or ethical, spiritual, or philosophical group of modern origin, which has a peripheral place within the dominant religious culture. NRMs may be novel in origin or they may be part of a wider religion, such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, in...

s including theosophy
Theosophy
Theosophy, in its modern presentation, is a spiritual philosophy developed since the late 19th century. Its major themes were originally described mainly by Helena Blavatsky , co-founder of the Theosophical Society...

, Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

, Scientology
Scientology
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

, The Urantia Book
The Urantia Book
The Urantia Book is a spiritual and philosophical book that discusses God, Jesus, science, cosmology, religion, history, and destiny. It originated in Chicago, Illinois, sometime between 1924 and 1955...

, Raëlism
Raëlism
Raëlism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, now known as Raël.The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, which they call the Elohim...

, and Heaven's Gate
Heaven's Gate (religious group)
Heaven's Gate was an American UFO religion based in San Diego, California, founded and led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles...

 believe in ancient and present-day contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Many of these faiths see both ancient scriptures and recent revelations as connected with the action of aliens from other planetary systems. Sociologists and psychologists have found that UFO religions have similarities which suggest that members of these groups consciously or subliminally
Subliminal stimuli
Subliminal stimuli , contrary to supraliminal stimuli or "above threshold", are any sensory stimuli below an individual's threshold for conscious perception. The large majority of research has found that subliminal messages do not produce strong or lasting changes in behavior...

 associate enchantment with the meme
Meme
A meme is "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena...

s of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

.

Ancient religious texts


Proponents cite ancient mythologies to support their viewpoints based on the idea that ancient creation myths of gods who descend from the heavens to Earth to create or instruct humanity are actually representations of alien visitors, whose superior technology accounts for their reception as gods. Proponents attempt to draw an analogy to occurrences in modern times when isolated cultures are exposed to Western technology, such as when, in the early 20th century, "cargo cult
Cargo cult
A cargo cult is a religious practice that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults focus on obtaining the material wealth of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices...

s" were discovered in the South Pacific: cultures who believed various Western ships and their cargo to be sent from the gods as fulfillment of prophecies concerning their return.

Ramayana



In Hindu mythology
Hindu mythology
Hindu religious literature is the large body of traditional narratives related to Hinduism, notably as contained in Sanskrit literature, such as the Sanskrit epics and the Puranas. As such, it is a subset of Nepali and Indian culture...

, the gods
Hindu deities
Within Hinduism a large number of personal gods are worshipped as murtis. These beings are either aspects of the supreme Brahman, Avatars of the supreme being, or significantly powerful entities known as devas. The exact nature of belief in regards to each deity varies between differing Hindu...

 and their avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s travel from place to place in flying vehicles (variously called "flying chariots", "flying cars" or Vimana
Vimana
Vimāna is a word with several meanings ranging from temple or palace to mythological flying machines described in Sanskrit epics.-Etymology and usage:Sanskrit vi-māna literally means "measuring out, traversing" or "having been measured out"...

s
). There are many mentions of these flying machines in the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, which dates to the 5th or 4th century BCE. Below are some examples:

From Book 6, Canto CXXIII: The Magic Car:
Is not the wondrous chariot mine,

Named Pushpak, wrought by hands divine.



This chariot, kept with utmost care,

Will waft thee through the fields of air,

And thou shalt light unwearied down

In fair Ayodhyá's royal town.


From Book 6, Canto CXXIV: The Departure:
Swift through the air, as Ráma
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 chose,

The wondrous car from earth arose.

And decked with swans and silver wings

Bore through the clouds its freight of kings.


Erich von Däniken discusses the Ramayana and the vimanas in Chariots of the Gods? chapter 6, suggesting that they were "space vehicles". To support his theory, he also offers a quotation which he says is from an 1889 translation of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

by C. Roy: "Bhima
Bhima
In the Mahābhārata, Bhima is one of the central characters of Mahabharata and the second of the Pandava brothers...

 flew with his Vimana on an enormous ray which was as brilliant as the sun and made a noise like the thunder of a storm".

See also Vaimanika Shastra
Vaimanika Shastra
The Vaimānika Shāstra वैमानिक शास्त्र is an early 20th century Sanskrit text on aeronautics obtained by psychic channeling and automatic writing...

, a text on Vimanas supposedly "channeled" in the early 20th century.

Book of Genesis and Book of Enoch


The Book of Genesis, chapter 6 verses 1–4, states:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God
Sons of God
Sons of God is a phrase used in Levantine Bronze and Iron Age texts to describe the "divine council" of the major gods.- The term "sons of God" :...

 saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
...
The Nephilim
Nephilim
The Nephilim are the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" in Genesis 6:4, or giants who inhabit Canaan in Numbers 13:33. A similar word with different vowel-sounds is used in Ezekiel 32:27 to refer to dead Philistine warriors....

 were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them.
— Genesis 6:1–4 (New International Version)


One interpretation is that the Nephilim are the children of the "sons of God" and "daughters of humans", although scholars are uncertain. The King James Version replaces the term "Nephilim" with "giants".

The first part of the apocryphal Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel...

expands and interprets Genesis 6:1. It explains that the "sons of God" were a group of 200 "angels" called "Watchers". Against God's wishes, these Watchers descended to Earth to breed with humans. Their offspring are the Nephilim, "giants" who "consumed all the acquisitions of men". When humans could no longer sustain the Nephilim, they turned against humanity. The Watchers also instructed humans in metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 and metalworking
Metalworking
Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills,...

, cosmetics
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

, sorcery
Sorcery
Sorcery may refer to:* Magic * Maleficium * Witchcraft* Sorcery , a video game for the PlayStation 3 utilizing the PlayStation Move* Sorcery , 1995* Sorcery , 1974...

, astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

. God then ordered the Watchers to be imprisoned in the ground. He created the Great Flood to rid Earth of the Nephilim and of the humans who had been given knowledge by the Watchers. However, to ensure humanity's survival, Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 is forewarned of the oncoming destruction. Because they disobeyed God, the book also describes the Watchers as "fallen angel
Fallen angel
Fallen angel is a concept developed in Jewish mythology from interpretation of the Book of Enoch. The actual term fallen angel is not found in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. Christians adopted the concept of fallen angels mainly based on their interpretations of the Book of...

s".

Some ancient astronaut theorists believe that this story is a historical account of extraterrestrials visiting Earth. In their interpretation, the "angels" are extraterrestrials and were called Watchers because their mission was to observe humanity. Some of the extraterrestrials disobeyed orders; they made contact with humans, cross-bred with human females and shared knowledge with them. The Nephilim were thus half-human-half-extraterrestrial hybrids.

Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman argue that modern UFOs carry the fallen angels, or offspring of fallen angels: the Nephilim of Genesis, who have now returned. They believe it was this interbreeding between the angels and humans that led to what they call “the gene pool problem.” Noah was perfect in his “generations,” that is “Noah’s genealogy was not tarnished by the intrusion of fallen angels. It seems that this adulteration of the human gene pool was a major problem on the planet earth.”

Von Däniken also suggests that the two angels who visited Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 in Genesis 19 were not angels, but ancient astronauts. They may have used atomic weapons to destroy the city of Sodom
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

. In any case, the otherworldly beings acted as if there was a time set for Sodom’s destruction. Von Däniken questioned why God would work on a timetable and why an "infinitely good Father" would give "preference to ‘favorite children,’ such as Lot’s family, over countless others."

Marc Dem completely reinterprets Genesis by claiming humanity started on another planet and that the God of the Bible is an extraterrestrial.

Book of Ezekiel



In the Biblical Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, chapter 1 of the Book of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

recounts a vision in which Ezekiel sees "an immense cloud" that contains fire and emits lightning and "brilliant light". It continues: "The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures". These creatures are described as winged and humanoid, they "sped back and forth like flashes of lightning" and "fire moved back and forth among the creatures". The passage goes on to describe four shiny objects, each appearing "like a wheel intersecting a wheel". These objects could fly and they moved with the creatures: "When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose".

In chapter 4 of Chariots of the Gods?, entitled “Was God an Astronaut?”, von Däniken suggests that Ezekiel had seen a spaceship or spaceships; this hypothesis had been put forward by Morris Jessup in 1956 and by Arthur W. Orton in 1961. A detailed version of this hypothesis was described by Josef F. Blumrich in his book The Spaceships of Ezekiel
The Spaceships of Ezekiel
The Spaceships of Ezekiel is a book by Josef F. Blumrich written while he was chief of NASA's systems layout branch of the program development office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.-Content:...

(1974).

Other suggested biblical mentions


The characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 and the Urim and Thummim
Urim and Thummim
In ancient Israelite religion and culture, Urim and Thummim is a phrase from the Hebrew Scriptures or Torah associated with the Hoshen , divination in general, and cleromancy in particular...

 have been said to suggest high technology, perhaps from alien origins.

Robert Dione
Robert Dione
Robert Dione born 1922, South Portland, Maine, United States, was a school teacher in Connecticut and an author on two books on UFO and ancient astronauts.-Life and career:...

 and Paul Misraki
Paul Misraki
Paul Misraki was a French composer of popular music and film scores. Over the course of over 60 years, Misraki wrote the music to 130 films, scoring works by directors like Jean Renoir, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Becker, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jean-Luc Godard, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Orson Welles, Luis...

 published books in the 1960s claiming the events in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 were caused by alien
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

. Barry Downing
Barry Downing
Barry Downing born 1938 in Syracuse, New York is a reverend and a Presbyterian minister. He is most well known for his book The Bible and Flying Saucers in 1968, which claims UFO phenomena are responsible for many of the events in the Bible...

, a Presbyterian minister wrote a book in 1968 claiming that Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 was an extraterrestrial
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

, citing (John 8: 23) and other biblical verses as evidence.

Some ancient astronaut proponents such as Von Daniken and Barry Downing
Barry Downing
Barry Downing born 1938 in Syracuse, New York is a reverend and a Presbyterian minister. He is most well known for his book The Bible and Flying Saucers in 1968, which claims UFO phenomena are responsible for many of the events in the Bible...

 believe that the concept of hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 could be a real description of the planet Venus
Venus
Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. The planet is named after Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows...

 brought to earth by extraterrestrials showing photos of the hot surface on Venus to humans.

Ancient artwork



Other artistic support for the ancient astronaut theory has been sought in Palaeolithic cave paintings. Wondjina
Wondjina
In Aboriginal mythology, the Wondjina were cloud and rain spirits who, during the Dream time, created or influenced the landscape and its inhabitants...

 in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Val Camonica
Val Camonica
Val Camonica is one of the largest valleys of the central Alps, in eastern Lombardy, about 90 km long. It starts from the Tonale Pass, at 1883 metres above sea level and ends at Corna Trentapassi, in the comune of Pisogne, near Lake Iseo...

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (seen above) are claimed to bear a resemblance to present day astronauts. Supporters of the ancient astronaut theory sometimes claim that similarities such as dome shaped heads, interpreted as beings wearing space helmets, prove that early man was visited by an extraterrestrial race.

More support of this theory draws upon what are claimed to be representations of flying saucers in medieval and renaissance art. This is used to support the ancient astronaut theory by attempting to show that the creators of humanity return to check up on their creation throughout time.

Nazca Lines



The ancient Nazca Lines
Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima...

 comprise hundreds of enormous ground drawings etched into the high desert landscape of Peru, which consist primarily of geometric shapes, but also include depictions of a variety of animals and at least one human figure. Many believers in ancient astronauts cite the Nazca lines as evidence because the figures created by the lines are most clearly depicted or only able to be seen when viewed from the air. Writing professor Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell
Joe Nickell is a prominent skeptical investigator of the paranormal. He also works as an historical document consultant and has helped expose such famous forgeries as the purported diary of Jack the Ripper. In 2002 he was one of a number of experts asked by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr...

 of the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, also known as UK, is a public co-educational university and is one of the state's two land-grant universities, located in Lexington, Kentucky...

, using only technology he believed to be available to people of the time, was able to recreate one of the larger figures with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Ancient artifacts


Alleged physical evidence includes the discovery of artifacts in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 (the Saqqara Bird
Saqqara Bird
The Saqqara Bird is a bird-shaped artifact made of sycamore wood, discovered during the 1898 excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. It has been dated to approximately 200 BCE, and is now housed in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. The Saqqara Bird has a wingspan of and...

) and Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

-Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, which are claimed to be similar to modern planes and gliders, although these have been interpreted by archaeologists as stylized representations of birds and insects.

Megalithic sites


Evidence for ancient astronauts is claimed to include the existence of ancient monuments and megalithic ruins such as the Giza pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for...

 in Peru, or Baalbek
Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

 in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, the Moai of Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 and Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 of England. Supporters contend these stone structures could not have been built with the technical abilities and tools of the people of the time and further argue that many could not be duplicated even today. They suggest that the large size of the building stones, the precision with which they were laid, and the distances many were transported leaves the question open as to who constructed these sites. These contentions are categorically rejected by mainstream archeology. Some mainstream archeologists have participated in experiments to move large megaliths. These experiments have succeeded in moving megaliths up to at least 40 tons, and they have speculated that with a larger workforce larger megaliths could be towed with ancient technology. Such allegations are not unique in history, however, as similar reasoning lay behind the wonder of the Cyclopean masonry walling at Mycenaean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 cities in the eyes of Greeks of the following "Dark Age
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

," who believed that the giant Cyclopes
Cyclops
A cyclops , in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead...

 had built the walls.

Reception


Despite the proponents' own interpretations of ancient writings and artifacts, there has yet to be found any hard evidence to support the ancient astronaut hypothesis.

Alan F. Alford, author of Gods of the New Millennium (1996), was an adherent of the ancient astronaut theory. Much of his work draws on Sitchin’s theories. However, he now finds fault with Sitchin’s theory after deeper analysis, stating that: “I am now firmly of the opinion that these gods personified the falling sky; in other words, the descent of the gods was a poetic rendition of the cataclysm myth which stood at the heart of ancient Near Eastern religions.”

The Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 creationist community is highly critical of many of the ancient astronaut ideas, the young earth creationist author Clifford A. Wilson published Crash Go the Chariots in 1972 in which he attempted to discredit all claims made in Von Daniken's book Chariots of the Gods
Chariots of the Gods
Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past is a book written in 1968 by Erich von Däniken...

.

In a 2004 article in Skeptic
Skeptic (U.S. magazine)
Skeptic is a quarterly science education and science advocacy magazine published internationally by The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs...

magazine, Jason Colavito argues that von Däniken plagiarized many of the book's concepts from Le Matin des Magiciens
Le Matin des Magiciens
The Morning of the Magicians was first published as Le Matin des magiciens. Written by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in 1960, it became a best seller, first in French, then translated into English in 1963 as The Dawn of Magic, and later released in the United States as The Morning of the...

, that this book in turn was heavily influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos
Cthulhu Mythos
The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, based on the work of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.The term was first coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent of Lovecraft, who used the name of the creature Cthulhu - a central figure in Lovecraft literature and the focus...

, and that the core of the ancient astronaut theory originates in H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

's short stories "The Call of Cthulhu
The Call of Cthulhu
The Call of Cthulhu is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928.-Inspiration:...

" and "At the Mountains of Madness
At the Mountains of Madness
At the Mountains of Madness is a novella by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in February/March 1931 and rejected that year by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright on the grounds of its length. It was originally serialized in the February, March and April 1936 issues of Astounding Stories...

".

Popular culture


  • 1897: Garrett P. Serviss
    Garrett P. Serviss
    Garrett Putnam Serviss was an astronomer, popularizer of astronomy, and early science fiction writer. Serviss was born in upstate New York, and majored in science at Cornell. He took a law degree at Columbia, but never worked as an attorney...

     (book, Edison's Conquest of Mars
    Edison's Conquest of Mars
    Edison's Conquest of Mars, by Garrett P. Serviss, is one of the many science fiction novels published in the 19th century. Although science fiction was not at the time thought of as a distinct literary genre, it was a very popular literary form, with almost every fiction magazine regularly...

    )
  • 1919: Charles Fort
    Charles Fort
    Charles Hoy Fort was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort's books sold well and are still in print today.-Biography:Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, New York, of Dutch...

     (book, The Book of the Damned
    The Book of the Damned
    The Book of the Damned was the first published nonfiction work of the author Charles Fort . Dealing with various types of anomalous phenomena including UFOs, strange falls of both organic and inorganic materials from the sky, odd weather patterns, the possible existence of creatures generally held...

    )
  • 1928: H.P. Lovecraft (short story, "The Call of Cthulhu
    The Call of Cthulhu
    The Call of Cthulhu is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928.-Inspiration:...

    ")
  • 1954: Harold T. Wilkins
    Harold T. Wilkins
    -Biography:Educated at Cambridge University in journalism, Wilkins regularly reported on the early television experiments of John L. Baird, during the years 1926—1932....

     (book, Flying Saucers from the Moon)
  • 1956: Morris K. Jessup
    Morris K. Jessup
    Morris Ketchum Jessup , had a Master of Science Degree in astronomy and, though employed for most of his life as an automobile-parts salesman and a photographer, is probably best remembered for his pioneering ufological writings and his role in "uncovering" the so-called "Philadelphia...

     (book, UFOs and the Bible)
  • 1957: Peter Kolosimo
    Peter Kolosimo
    Peter Kolosimo, pseudonym of Pier Domenico Colosimo was an Italian journalist and writer. Together with the later Erich von Däniken, he is ranked amongst the founders of pseudoarchaeology .Born in Modena, he lived in Bolzano for much of his life...

     (book, Il pianeta sconosciuto (The Unknown Planet))
  • 1958: George Hunt Williamson
    George Hunt Williamson
    George Hunt Williamson , aka Michael d'Obrenovic and Brother Philip,was one of the "four guys named George" among the mid-1950s contactees...

     (book, Secret Places of the Lion)
  • 1958: Henri Lhote
    Henri Lhote
    Henri Lhote was a French author, explorer, ethnographer, and "expert on prehistoric cave art" who described and is credited for the discovery of "important cave paintings" in an "assembly of 800 or more magnificent works of primitive art...in a virtually inaccessible region on the edge of the...

     (book, The Search for the Tassili Frescoes: The story of the prehistoric rock-paintings of the Sahara)
  • 1959: Matest M. Agrest
    Matest M. Agrest
    Matest M. Agrest was a Russian ethnologist and mathematician known chiefly for being an early proponent of the existence of ancient astronauts, which reached its peak of popularity in the 1970s....

  • 1959: Jacques Bergier
    Jacques Bergier
    Jacques Bergier , was a chemical engineer, member of the French-resistance, spy, journalist and writer...

     and Louis Pauwels
    Louis Pauwels
    Louis Pauwels was a French journalist and writer.- Biography :Louis Pauwels was a teacher at Athis-Mons from 1939 to 1945 , Louis Pauwels wrote in many monthly literary French magazines as early as 1946 until the...

     (book, The Morning of the Magicians)
  • 1960: Brinsley Le Poer Trench (book, The Sky People)
  • 1963: Robert Charroux
    Robert Charroux
    Robert Charroux was the best-known pen-name of Robert Grugeau .-Early career:Robert Charroux worked for the French post office until becoming a full-time writer of fiction in the early 1940s...

     (book, One Hundred Thousand Years of Man's Unknown History)
  • 1964: W. Raymond Drake
    W. Raymond Drake
    W. Raymond Drake , a British disciple of Charles Fort, published nine books on the ancient astronaut theme, the first four years earlier than Erich Von Däniken's bestseller Chariots of the Gods. Many writers on flying saucers in the mid-1950s, such as Desmond Leslie, George Hunt Williamson, Daniel...

     (book, Gods or Spacemen?)
  • 1965: Paul Misraki
    Paul Misraki
    Paul Misraki was a French composer of popular music and film scores. Over the course of over 60 years, Misraki wrote the music to 130 films, scoring works by directors like Jean Renoir, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Becker, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jean-Luc Godard, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Orson Welles, Luis...

     (book, Flying Saucers Through The Ages)
  • 1966: Iosif Shklovsky
    Iosif Shklovsky
    Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky was a Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist...

     and Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

     (book, Intelligent Life in the Universe)
  • 1967: Brad Steiger
    Brad Steiger
    Brad Steiger is an American author who has written or co-written over 170 books, a number of which focus on paranormal subjects.-Childhood:...

     (book, The Flying Saucer Menace)
  • 1967: John Michell
    John Michell (writer)
    John Frederick Carden Michell was an English writer whose key sources of inspiration were Plato and Charles Fort...

     (book, The Flying Saucer Vision)
  • 1968: Erich von Däniken
    Erich von Däniken
    Erich Anton Paul von Däniken is a Swiss author best known for his controversial claims about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture, in books such as Chariots of the Gods?, published in 1968...

     (book, Chariots of the Gods?)
  • 1968: Barry Downing
    Barry Downing
    Barry Downing born 1938 in Syracuse, New York is a reverend and a Presbyterian minister. He is most well known for his book The Bible and Flying Saucers in 1968, which claims UFO phenomena are responsible for many of the events in the Bible...

     (book, The Bible and Flying Saucers)
  • 1969: Robert Dione
    Robert Dione
    Robert Dione born 1922, South Portland, Maine, United States, was a school teacher in Connecticut and an author on two books on UFO and ancient astronauts.-Life and career:...

     (book, God Drives a Flying Saucer)
  • 1969: Jean Sendy
    Jean Sendy
    Jean Sendy is a French writer and translator, author of works on esoterica and UFO phenonema. He was also an early proponent of the ancient astronaut hypothesis.-Ancient Astronauts:...

     (book, Those Gods Who Made Heaven and Earth; the novel of the Bible)
  • 1971: Andrew Tomas
    Andrew Tomas
    Andrew Tomas was a UFO researcher, Freemason and author. An accountant by trade, Thomas was appointed to the position of official Sydney observer for the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau after meeting AFSB founder, Edgar Jarrold.- Personal :Tomas was born in St...

     (book, We are not the first: riddles of ancient science)
  • 1972: Thomas Charles Lethbridge
    Thomas Charles Lethbridge
    Thomas Charles Lethbridge was a British explorer, archaeologist and parapsychologist. According to the historian Ronald Hutton, Lethbridge's "status as a scholar never really rose above that of an unusually lively local antiquary" for he had a "contempt for professionalism in all fields" and...

     (book, The Legend of the Sons of God: A Fantasy?)
  • 1974: Charles Berlitz
    Charles Berlitz
    Charles Frambach Berlitz was an American linguist and language teacher known for his books on anomalous phenomena, as well as his language-learning courses. He is listed in The People's Almanac as one of the fifteen most eminent linguists in the world.-Life:Berlitz was born in New York City...

     (book, The Bermuda Triangle
    The Bermuda Triangle (book)
    The Bermuda Triangle is a best-selling 1974 book by Charles Berlitz which popularized the belief of the Bermuda Triangle as an area of ocean prone to disappearing ships and airplanes...

    )
  • 1974: Josef F. Blumrich (book, The Spaceships of Ezekiel
    The Spaceships of Ezekiel
    The Spaceships of Ezekiel is a book by Josef F. Blumrich written while he was chief of NASA's systems layout branch of the program development office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.-Content:...

    )
  • 1974: Claude Vorilhon aka Rael (book, Le Livre Qui Dit La Vérité (The Book Which Tells the Truth))
  • 1974: Robin Collyns
    Robin Collyns
    Robin Collyns was an author from New Zealand who wrote books on ancient astronauts and biological warfare.-Life and career:Collyns was born and educated in New Zealand. He developed an interest in the paranormal at an early age. He had basic training in electronics but left education to become a...

     (book, Did Spacemen Colonise the Earth?)
  • 1975: Graham Cairns-Smith
    Graham Cairns-Smith
    Alexander Graham Cairns-Smith is an organic chemist and molecular biologist at the University of Glasgow, most famous for his controversial 1985 book, Seven Clues to the Origin of Life...

     (a biochemist
    Biochemist
    Biochemists are scientists who are trained in biochemistry. Typical biochemists study chemical processes and chemical transformations in living organisms. The prefix of "bio" in "biochemist" can be understood as a fusion of "biological chemist."-Role:...

     who suggested that the ancestors of humans might have had alien biochemistries and presented some evidence to support this possibility in a biological research journal)
  • 1975: Serge Hutin
    Serge Hutin
    Serge Hutin born in France, was an author on books on esoterica and the occult.-Writer:Hutin was a writer of many books on the occult and esoteric, he wrote about Freemasonry, secret societies, Rosicrucianism, alchemy and astrology and many other occult topics...

     (book, Alien Races and Fantastic Civilizations)
  • 1975: Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    (British television series): the serial Pyramids of Mars
    Pyramids of Mars
    Pyramids of Mars is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 25 October to 15 November 1975.-Synopsis:...

    featured a conflict on Earth between aliens of a race named the Osirans forming the basis of Egyptian mythology, and a number of other Doctor Who serials have used similar ideas.
  • 1976: Robert K. G. Temple
    Robert K. G. Temple
    Robert K. G. Temple is an American author best known for his controversial book, The Sirius Mystery which presents the idea that the Dogon people preserve the tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system...

     (book, The Sirius Mystery
    The Sirius Mystery
    The Sirius Mystery is a book by Robert K. G. Temple first published by St. Martin's Press in 1975. It presents the hypothesis that the Dogon people of Mali in west Africa, preserve a tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system.These beings, who are...

    )
  • 1976: John Baxter
    John Baxter (author)
    John Baxter is an Australian-born writer, journalist, and film-maker.Baxter has lived in Britain and the United States as well as in his native Sydney, but has made his home in Paris since 1989, where he is married to the film-maker Marie-Dominique Montel...

    , Thomas Atkins (book The Fire Came By: The Riddle of the Great Siberian Explosion)
  • 1977: John Philip Cohane
    John Philip Cohane
    John Philip Cohane, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was an archaeologist for the University of Pennsylvania. He later moved to Ireland to become an author on books on pseudohistoric and Ancient astronaut themes.-Books:...

     (book, Paradox: The Case for the Extraterrestrial Origin of Man)
  • 1977: Warren Smith
    Warren Smith (author)
    Warren Smith, also known as Warren William Billy Smith, was an author from Iowa, who wrote books on cryptozoology and the hollow earth theory.-Life and career:...

     (book, UFO Trek)
  • 1978: George Sassoon
    George Sassoon
    George Thornycroft Sassoon was a British scientist, electronic engineer, linguist, translator and author.-Early life:...

     and Rodney Dale
    Rodney Dale
    Rodney Dale , from Haddenham in Cambridgeshire, is an English writer and owner of the publishing company Fern House Publishing.Dale usually writes books about science and engineering but also about urban legends, jazz and Louis Wain.-Works:...

     (book, Manna Machine
    Manna Machine
    The Manna Machine is an ancient astronaut book by George Sassoon and Rodney Dale which concludes that a machine device was given to the Israelites, when they went on their 40 year journey in the Sinai Desert. The device was said to create manna, a type of algae. It explains how the Israelites...

    )
  • 1978: Zecharia Sitchin
    Zecharia Sitchin
    Zecharia Sitchin was an Azerbaijani-born American author of books promoting an explanation for human origins involving ancient astronauts. Sitchin attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the Anunnaki, which he states was a race of extra-terrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune...

     (book, The 12th planet)
  • 1984: Don Elkins, James McCarthy, Carla Rueckert (book, The Ra Material: An Ancient Astronaut Speaks (The Law of One
    The Law of One
    The Law of One is a series of five philosophical monographs written between 1982 and 1998 by L/L Research. The series presents commentary and transcripts of a dialogue between a "Questioner" and an extra-terrestrial being "Ra"...

     , No 1)
    )
  • 1988: Riley Martin
    Riley Martin
    Riley L. Martin is a self-described alien contactee, author, and radio host. Martin is the author of the book The Coming of Tan, which describes his life and his alleged abduction by aliens. He hosts The Riley Martin Show on the Sirius Satellite Radio channel Howard 101...

     (book, The Coming of Tan)
  • 1993: David Icke
    David Icke
    David Vaughan Icke is an English writer and public speaker, best known for his views on what he calls "who and what is really controlling the world." Describing himself as the most controversial speaker in the world, he has written 18 books explaining his position, and has attracted a substantial...

     (book, --and the truth shall set you free)
  • 1996: Alan F. Alford
    Alan F. Alford
    Alan F. Alford, B. Com, FCA, MBA is a British writer and speaker on the subjects of ancient religion, mythology, and Egyptology.His first book Gods of the New Millennium drew on the ancient astronaut theory of Zecharia Sitchin and became a number 11 non-fiction bestseller in the UK...

     (book, Gods of the New Millennium)
  • 1996: Murry Hope
    Murry Hope
    Murry Hope Richard Ellis, Imagining Atlantis, 1998. Alfred A. Knoft - original from University of Michigan; pp. 64-70, 269. ISBN 0679446028. is an English woman writer, lecturer, psychic, healer, astrologer, numerologist, palmist, former lyric singer and universal occultist. She makes part of the...

     (book, The Sirius Connection: Unlocking the Secrets of Ancient Egypt)
  • 1996: Richard C. Hoagland
    Richard C. Hoagland
    Richard Charles Hoagland, is an American author and a proponent of various conspiracy theories about NASA, lost alien civilizations on the Moon and on Mars and other related topics....

     (book, The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever)
  • 1998: Lloyd Pye
    Lloyd Pye
    Lloyd Anthony Pye is an American author best known for his promotion of the Starchild skull, which Pye claims is the relic skull of a human-alien hybrid.-Writing:...

     (book, Everything You Know is Wrong — Book One: Human Evolution)
  • 1998: James Herbert Brennan
    James Herbert Brennan
    J. H. "Herbie" Brennan is a lecturer and the author of over one hundred fiction and non-fiction books for adults, teens, and children.-Biography:...

     (book, Martian Genesis)
  • 1999: David Hatcher Childress
    David Hatcher Childress
    David Hatcher Childress is an American author and publisher of books on topics on alternative history and historical revisionism. His works cover such subjects as pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact, Atlantis, Lemuria, Ancient Astronauts, UFOs, Nikola Tesla, the Knights Templar, lost cities and...

     (book, Technology of the Gods, The Incredible Science of the Ancients)
  • 1999: Laurence Gardner
    Laurence Gardner
    Laurence Gardner was a writer and lecturer in the "alternative history" genre of research.-Career:Laurence Gardner's first book Bloodline of the Holy Grail was published in 1996. The book was serialized in the Daily Mail and a best seller...

     (book, Genesis of the Grail Kings: The Explosive Story of Genetic Cloning
    Jesus bloodline
    A Jesus bloodline is a hypothetical sequence of lineal descendants of the historical Jesus and Mary Magdalene, or some other woman, usually portrayed as his alleged wife or a hierodule...

    )
  • 2003: Burak Eldem
    Burak Eldem
    Burak Eldem is a Turkish writer/researcher, a former radio and TV programmer, web developer and journalist. He is the author of "2012: Rendez-vous With Marduk" , Fraternis: Lost Books, Secret Brotherhood and Talismans Protect Thee...

  • 2010: Ancient Aliens
    Ancient Aliens
    Ancient Aliens is an American television series that premiered on April 20, 2010 on the History channel. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment, the program presents theories of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology and legends contain evidence of past...

    (documentary television series)


See also


  • Ancient Aliens (TV series)
    Ancient Aliens
    Ancient Aliens is an American television series that premiered on April 20, 2010 on the History channel. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment, the program presents theories of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology and legends contain evidence of past...

  • Ancient astronauts in popular culture
    Ancient astronauts in popular culture
    Ancient astronauts have been addressed frequently in science fiction and horror fiction, especially in TV and film, as human-like aliens are usually easy to cast and cheap to clothe. Early occurrences in the genres include:- Novels and comics :* Garrett P...

  • List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
  • Pseudoarchaeology
    Pseudoarchaeology
    Pseudoarchaeology — also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology — refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the academic archaeological community, which typically also reject the accepted scientific and analytical methods of the...

  • The Space Gods Revealed (book)
    The Space Gods Revealed
    The Space Gods Revealed: A Close Look At The Theories of Erich Von Däniken is a book written in 1976 by Ronald Story, with an introduction by Carl Sagan. It was written as a refutation to the theories and evidence in Erich von Däniken's most famous work, Chariots of the Gods?, almost page by...

  • UFO conspiracy theory
    UFO conspiracy theory
    A UFO conspiracy theory is any one of many often overlapping conspiracy theories which argue that evidence of the reality of unidentified flying objects is being suppressed by various governments around the world...

  • Xenoarchaeology
    Xenoarchaeology
    Xenoarchaeology is a hypothetical form of archaeology that exists mainly in science fiction works concerned with the physical remains of past alien life and cultures...

    (archaeology about supposed alien cultures)


Further reading

  • Avalos, Hector (2002) "The Ancient Near East in Modern Science Fiction: Zechariah Sitchin's The 12th Planet as Case Study." Journal of Higher Criticism, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 49–70.
  • Harris, Christie (1975) Sky Man on the Totem Pole? New York: Atheneum.

External links