What Is Xenoarchaeology?
Xenoarchaeology is a broad field of hypothetical science involving the study of the remains of extraterrestrial civilizations. In science fiction, xenoarchaeology is practiced on distant planets, studying alien cultures much as one studies ancient civilizations here on earth. In the realm of fringe science here on earth, xenoarchaeology refers to a field of study exploring whether extraterrestrial beings influenced prehistoric human societies. This area of study is also called Paleo-SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), Paleo-Contact Theory, Ancient Astronaut Theory, or Exoarchaeology. The field can be traced back to the Giovanni Schiaperelli's 1877 observation of channels, or canali, on Mars, leading to theories that the Martian surface had been altered by an intelligent civilization. The astronomer Percival Lowell was a famous proponent of this since-discredited theory of Martian civilization.
Beginning with the Theosophical writers of the late nineteenth century, some began claiming that non-human archaeological remains could be found on earth, especially in the form of megalithic ruins. This theory was popularized in the work of twentieth century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, whose tales of prehistoric extraterrestrial visitation inspired the contemporary ancient astronaut theory. The modern ancient astronaut theory argues that prehistoric human achievements, such as the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the statues of Easter Island, and Tiwanaku in Bolivia are either the direct work of extraterrestrials or were built under extraterrestrial influence or directives. Prominent proponents of this theory include Erich von Däniken, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, and the late Zecharia Sitchin.
In a broader sense, xenoarchaeology can also encompass related fields, including claims regarding Atlantis, lost civilizations, and advanced prehistoric technologies. These areas frequently overlap the ancient astronaut hypothesis and utilize much of the same evidence and reasoning to support controversial claims.
What Is Skeptical Xenoarchaeology?
Skeptical xenoarchaeology applies rigorous critical, logical, and scientific methodology to evaluate claims for extraterrestrial influence in the human past or extraterrestrial archaeological remains on earth, the moon, Mars, and elsewhere. In a broader sense, skeptical xenoarchaeologists examine controversial claims about extraterrestrial influence, lost civilizations, Atlantis, advanced technology, and other controversial claims about the human past. To date, no incontrovertible evidence of alien influence or an advanced lost civilization has withstood skeptical scrutiny.