With my lengthy reviews of Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens, I’ve been producing 8 article-sized blog posts a week, and that’s getting ridiculous. So instead of another lengthy piece today, you’re getting a short discussion of a weird claim that’s been circulating across the fringe history blogosphere this week. I first encountered it in an article that ran on the Native American Indian Country Today Media Network website last week. The piece claimed that a series of pipes dating back 150,000 years had been found near the city of Delhi (or Delhinga) in the Chinese province of Qinghai in China’s desert west. The article cited the Epoch Times to the effect that tour operators in the vicinity claimed that the pipes, which supposedly lead from a pyramid-shaped mountain to a lake, were the work of extraterrestrials.
Turning to the source, the Epoch Times, is an exercise in futility since the Epoch Times, a multilingual Chinese diaspora paper, is well known for publishing fringe claims, typically recycled from television fringe shows or Chinese ancient astronaut books. A recent article claimed, for example, that America Unearthed had proved the existence of Celtic settlements in Oklahoma, while another piece on July 24 credulously reported on an ancient Chinese UFO sighting using internet claims I challenged last year.
The Epoch Times in turn based its article on still earlier Chinese media reports dating back to a 2002 article from Xinhua, the official state news agency of China, widely considered a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist government. That august agency attributed the claim that the pipes were of alien origin to the credible source of “someone”: “Someone has suggested that the site might have been a launch tower left by ET.”
The Epoch Times, however, dutifully noted that there are alternative explanations for the supposed pipes. They may be the remains of magma tubes, or possibly fossilized tree roots. No images of the pipes were provided (the pipe in the Epoch Times article is a file picture of an actual metal pipe), and there was no indication why extraterrestrials would want a series of pipes of varying non-standardized widths.
Western scholars do not seem to have investigated the alien pipes, though I suppose that could be due to a conspiracy to suppress the truth.
According to declassified CIA documents, such as the one I posted in my U.S. Government Ancient Astronaut and Fringe History Files section a long time ago, Sinologists in the U.S. and even the former Soviet Union have long noted that the Chinese have actively encouraged belief in ancient astronauts as a way of bolstering communist materialism against Western spirituality, and in 2012 the Chinese government even endorsed claims that ancient astronauts visited earth 100 million years ago.
As a Soviet source put it (in CIA translation) back in the 1980s, “The activities of adherents of this new scientific trend in China demonstrate [the] methodology and tasks of the Chinese historical science in general.” In other words, if an extreme claim about aliens comes out of China, don’t believe it. Even the alleged global government conspiracy to suppress the truth about UFOs doesn’t buy it. And when even the Soviets thought a whole country’s ancient astronaut claims were untrustworthy, it’s probably a good bet that they are. Sadly, as the 2012 museum exhibit shows, not much has changed in China since the 1980s.
But why would Native Americans want to align themselves with these weird claims except as an exercise in opposing “mainstream” historiography?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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