Did Aliens Visit Our Ancestors?
By Steve Johnson
In 1968, Swiss author Erich Von Danikenís book, Chariots of the Gods? stunned the literary world by becoming a worldwide bestseller. Von Daniken suggested that extra-terrestrials had visited Earth and took on the mantle of gods by our awe-struck ancestors. His evidence came in the form of archaic writings, Biblical passages and, most imaginatively, ancient works of art, such as sculptures, rock art and jewellery, and enigmatic buildings and structures from ages past.
He was not the first to suggest that aliens had interfered with our history and he definitely was not the last, authors such as Zecharia Sitchin (The Twelfth Planet) and Alan Alford (Gods of the New Millennium) continued these themes with varying success, but he was absolutely the most successful.
Although derided by sceptics, the Ancient Astronaut Theory (AAT) has a healthy following around the world, particularly amongst internet groups and thousands of websites offer articles and images as evidence that our planet has been visited by alien beings across the millennia.
But is there any truth in the theory? Can we prove that aliens did indeed come to Earth and, possibly, caused our earliest civilisations to come into being? This article asks more questions than it can answer!
The Stone Age amulet on the left was found in Ecuador. If it is genuine, it suggests that ancient man knew that our planet was a sphere, long before Europeans made that discovery for themselves. Did the person who sculpted this simple piece of jewellery know for him or herself that the Earth was round, or was this information passed on from extra-terrestrials?
Why would aliens inform a primitive human about the Earth's place in the cosmos and explain how the Earth may be measured using lines of longitude and latitude?
Or is it merely an abstract, religious or decorative device, with no reference to what only seems to be depicted on its face?
The effigy on the right is also from Ecuador and shows a figure that bears a striking resemblance to a modern astronaut (indeed, an actual astronaut is shown as a reference). The being inside the suit appears to be non-human. It bears bulbous, almost almond-shaped eyes and its nose and mouth appear to be rudimentary. Was this an alien visitor, forever celebrated by the creation of this simple figurine? Or is it simply a representation of a shaman or god wearing ritualistic clothing?
It is a well-known device of archaeologists to define anything that has no logical explanation as 'ritualistic' or 'religious'. The principle of Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest and most likely explanation is that the 'astronaut' is an imagining of a human in ceremonial garb. Far more likely than a sculpting of an alien being, no? But what if that is what it actually is, a cosmonaut from beyond the stars?
Remaining in Ecuador for one more example, on the left is the lid of the famous Mayan ruler, Pacal. It was found in his burial pyramid in the ancient city of Palenque and the king's body was discovered beneath, thus suggesting that the figure in the carving is Pacal himself.
Mayan myth explains the depiction as the king falling into the night time Underworld, only to be risen again during the day. The Tree of Life above his head emphasises the king's journey after death.
Despite this description from actual Mayan texts, many researchers have claimed that the sarcophagus lid shows a figure sitting inside some form of airplane or spacecraft. There have even been attempts to recreate the lid utilising technical methodologies, as shown on the right.
A man in a piece of technology, his hands working controls, breathing apparatus enabling him to breathe? Or is it as the Maya themselves say, a representation of the dead king's journey into the afterlife? Surely the Maya know best. After all, they were there!
South America is filled with oddities: the Nazca Lines in Peru, the great Olmec stone heads of Mexico, the enigmatic city of Tiahuanaco, high up on the Bolivian Altiplano. We find great cities built from massive blocks of stone weighing hundreds of tons, seemingly abandoned in an instant and swallowed by the jungle or left to decay in the mighty Andes. But it is some of the smallest artefacts that furrow brows the most.
Explained away as depictions of animals such as birds, fish and bats, the trinkets bear striking resemblances to modern, delta-winged aeroplanes. There have even been claims by some researchers that aeronautical tests have proved that they are perfectly shaped for flight.
Trinkets of animals or scale models of aircraft? We may never know.
On the subject of ancient aircraft, we must not forget to mention the vimaanas of the mighty Sanskrit legend, the Mahabharata. These were described as fearsome flying machines, possessing devastating weapons, that were used by the gods in a great war against their enemies.
It seems, however, that the truth is far more down to Earth. Egyptian boats often had mastheads that were topped with what were probably weather vanes in the shapes of birds. These would tell the crew which way the wind was blowing. So that's one mystery solved at least!
Over in Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilisation arose in the regions between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Great cities such as Nippur, Uruk and Babylon thrived at a time when much of the rest of the world lived in Stone Age ignorance. They produced the first writings, the first mathematics, the wheel and the first laws.
Their legends told us that fish-like beings known as the Annunaki came to Earth and taught them everything they know. The cylinder seal on the right shows 'The Tree of Life' beneath a flying vessel above a crescent moon. Many have wondered why the Sumerians would show a tree in this way. It looks less like a large plant and more like a DNA molecule (the real tree of life).
The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin dates from 23rd-century BC Akkadia. The king is celebrating a victory over his enemies by paying homage to 'the solar disc'. A quick look at the stele, though, shows two solar emblems (at least three, actually if you look closely at the very top, damaged section). Since we have only ever had one sun, what do these other symbols represent?
An astronomical event such as a supernova or planetary conjunction? A comet passing by (Comet Hale-Bopp has been suggested)? Or even extra-terrestrial spacecraft hovering above the victorious king.
This would not be the first time that aerial phenomena have come to the aid of the warring dictators of millennia past. The Bible is filled with examples of Jehovah's angels coming to the assistance of the Hebrews in their battles with their enemies. Alexander the Great was helped by flying 'burning discs' as he laid siege to the city of Tyre and later, his army was dive-bombed by silver discs. If Naram-Sin did receive air support from above the clouds, then it suggests that aliens may have been tinkering with our history throughout the ages.
In the Tassili Mountains of the Sahara Desert, artwork was painted and carved into rocks at least 6000 years ago. Some of these depictions show very curious features that cannot be easily explained. Flying discs, strange animal forms and humanoid figures with bizarre features (such as 'The Great Martian God', left) have been explained away as drug-induced hallucinations or the products of the vivid imaginings of our ancestors.
Yet, amongst these strange forms are accurately-drawn renderings of the animals of the region, such as gazelles, so why include such abstract features? Perhaps the strange humanoid figures are depictions of native people wearing ceremonial headgear? How does this explain the flying discs? Our ancestors were excellent illustrators of nature. They drew what they saw. Is it possible that they saw alien life-forms come to earth and they simply recorded it for posterity?
To the left and right of the Cross there are two flying objects that are piloted by what seem to be humans. The vessel on the right emphasises its mechanical nature by having an insignia painted on its side! One seems to be pursuing the other and the chap on the right seems distressed that he is being chased by the serious-looking fellow on the left.
Is the painting a realisation of something was actually scene by the artist, or described to him by a witness? It is a bizarre piece of art. Beautiful and compelling, yet perplexing.
We have seen artworks from thousands of years ago right up to only a few hundred years ago. There are myriad other examples, but I have concentrated on only a few. Were Von Daniken and his counterparts correct? Have extra-terrestrials landed on our world and affected our history or are all the strange and mysterious representations we have seen nothing more than imaginative renderings by talented artists?
I know what I think, but I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions...
© 2005 Steve Johnson
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Updated 16th August, 2012