So, today, I’d like to offer a different case study, one that doesn’t rely on any archaeological site that has been attributed to alien influence.
And yet one of these walls became the subject of a singular legend. In between Abensberg in Bavaria and Cologne is a stretch of earthwork once topped with a long-vanished wooden palisade. Last reinforced under the emperor Probus (276-282 CE), the wooden palisade rotted away, leaving only a long, high earthen wall stretching across the landscape. (Most of this earthwork has vanished now but was still partially visible in the nineteenth century.)
During the Middle Ages this earthwork was the subject of much wonder by the ignorant peoples who no longer remembered the achievements of Rome. According to the folklore of the region, this was now the “Devil’s Wall,” a supernatural edifice that had been thrown up by a gigantic boar rooting around in the earth on the orders of the Infernal One. Jacob Grimm recorded this medieval legend as still current (though not necessarily believed) in the nineteenth century in his Teutonic Mythology, and the same process applied to innumerable large-scale ruins (and even natural formations) in the Middle Ages, all attracting legends of diabolic construction since the medieval people could not conceive of the ancients as possessing building skills they themselves did not.
If this process could occur only a few centuries ago with ruins whose origins and construction were documented, what credence can we give to the myths and legends of the ancients, recorded hundreds or thousands of years after the fact, that any given ancient site was of non-human origins?
Ancient astronaut theorists like to use the example o cargo cults as an analogy for alien influence. The cargo cults of the Pacific built wooden “airplanes” in honor of the “gods” who had flown there on military missions during World War II, thus suggesting to ancient astronaut theorists that ancient humans did the same with extraterrestrials and their spacecraft. But the Devil’s Wall and similar examples show that completely ordinary achievements, made by well-known processes, could and were seen as supernatural and were later attributed to gods and monsters. Such counterexamples serve as an important rebuttal to the cargo cult analogy: No superior technology or anomalous achievements are necessary to generate the types of myths ancient astronaut theorists see as extraterrestrial in origin.