Here’s how Coast to Coast AM summarized Klarfeld’s argument:
Klarfeld cited four forms of ancient evidence for this theory: text or cuneiform, cylinder seals, sculptures, and structures. Structures such as the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge could not have been created by the local folk, and suggest some type of outside assistance, he argued. The pyramids were built as navigation devices for the Annunaki's spaceships, he believes, and further, the giant stones in Baalbek, Lebanon could have been their launching pad. The Annunaki first came here 450,000 years ago, arriving from their planet Niburu, he detailed. They built their own cities, but eventually decided to genetically alter homo erectus, so the beings would be more suitable as their workers, said Klarfeld. This was accomplished by taking the eggs from the females and transferring them to the Annunaki female, whose offspring resulted in homo sapiens, he explained.
At this point, there is really no reason to go over these threadbare ideas another time. There is no Nibiru and never has been; no intergalactic space ship worth its salt would need a giant rock as a launch pad; there is no evidence of non-local intervention at Stonehenge or the pyramids; etc. And if the aliens genetically engineered humans, they did a really crappy job. Why make workers who are less strong than Homo erectus, more prone to injury, etc.?
Oh, and most importantly: where are these cities? If even a single building from 450,000 years ago survives, it would transform our understanding of history. But alternative theorists never want to provide the absolute proof they keep telling us they have.
But what interests me about these types of theories is the way they recapitulate the old racist arguments of the nineteenth century but extend the argument to include now all ancient peoples, not just the non-white ones. The assumption that ancient people were simply too stupid and too primitive to have built the buildings that were obviously their own work was first applied by European explorers in the Age of Discovery to the works of the Native peoples of ancient America and the Polynesians of the Pacific. In both cases, explorers assumed that brown-skinned people were unable to stack stone one atop the other because their skin color precluded such cognitive effort, and they attributed the works of the Americas and the Pacific to everything from Atlantis to Phoenicians to an all-purpose lost white race.
But now modern theories have expanded these racist old ideas to include monuments built by European ancestors as well, a sort of equal-opportunity degradation of ancient accomplishments. In the nineteenth century, the racist versions of these theories served a particular ideological purpose, reinforcing the social and political hierarchy of empire. Today’s theorists seem a bit different. Yes, they are still saying native peoples are inferior idiots, but now they include all ancient peoples. The dividing line is no longer between white and non-white but between modern and pre-modern. These theories are no longer weapons in a race war; instead, the war is on tradition and history itself. By demolishing the past’s claims to greatness, these theories build up modernity as preferable, as better. It seems to me that this reflects anxiety about the current state of the world and the need to make sense of its troubled state—especially the disorienting effects of rapid change—by providing a narrative that assuages that anxiety.
I wonder if it is entirely a coincidence that in the 1990s—during the so-called “holiday from history”—the dominant “alternative” theory was the lost civilization theory (i.e., Atlantis), which attempted to provide a glorious ancient analog to our own modern world that was better and more noble and worthy of emulation. After 9/11, the ancient astronaut theory made a comeback that I never expected. I thought it was dead and buried, to be honest. This theory posits an invasion by beings from another culture, imposing their ideas, their culture, and even their DNA onto human beings. Especially in its most recent form, the ancient astronaut theory has become quite frightening, imagining these invaders as essentially puppet masters controlling every human action, terrifying monsters from a past best forgotten.
I think there is something deeper at work. Alternative theories exist to express anxieties by recreating the past in the image of the present. It seems that the dominant fear right now is about the corruption of culture through contact with the Other.