History Channel Launches "Ancient Aliens" Companion Volume and Coloring Book; Plus: An Ancient Alien Coin?
Note: This post has been updated to include the solution to the alien coin mystery.
Regular readers will remember that last year the History Channel (or as it now bills itself “HISTORY™ network”) put out a children’s book to teach tweens about the ancient astronaut theory. This year, they’ve set their sights slightly higher. In partnership with HarperCollins, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., History is launching a companion book to the TV series Ancient Aliens, along with an adult coloring book of the same. The two volumes are scheduled for publication next month, in time for the lucrative holiday buying season.
The more interesting thing to note is that the ancient astronaut theorists who make up the Ancient Aliens crew couldn’t be bothered to contribute anything resembling scholarship to the volume that supposedly represents a flagship presentation of the ancient astronaut theory. Instead, the description states that the book is cobbled together from “in-depth interviews with [the show’s] most popular experts, specially selected by the show’s producers.” In other words, they seem to be saying that they built the book out of interviews they already had signed releases for, and the rest of the text, like the children’s book last year, was farmed out as work-for-hire.
You needn’t take my word for it. The book’s table of contents states explicitly that “the content of this work is derived in part from prior interviews with the named contributors to the Ancient Aliens® series.”
Each chapter of the book will cover one of the most frequent topics discussed on Ancient Aliens—Ezekiel’s vision, the pyramids, Puma Punku, Roswell, star gates, etc.—in the form of an interview with one “expert” per chapter: Erich von Däniken for Ezekiel, Giorgio Tsoukalos for the pyramids and Puma Punku, Linda Moulton Howe for Roswell, etc. This includes even the dead. Philip Coppens, who died four years ago, somehow contributes a chapter. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re just transcribing old interviews that you’ve already paid for.
The final thing to note is that the book doesn’t promise any new evidence or any new claims. The publishers seem to admit that the book is just a collection of recycled content and stock photos, packaged to exploit the show’s most loyal viewers, and the relatives who are looking for a Christmas gift.
This is pretty sad, considering that the children’s book version managed to have original (albeit false) content. After seven calendar years and eleven seasons on the air, you’d think that the show would have managed a book with more substance. On the other hand, even HarperCollins’s photograph of the book seems to be a computer-generated fake, and that seems just about right.
The less said about the coloring book, the better, but I would be remiss if I did not point out that the altered ancient images used within run the risk of misleading colorists into thinking that the original ancient art contains more explicit visions of space vehicles and aliens than they really do.
But before I conclude today, I wanted to point out a somewhat ridiculous claim that has been going around the internet the past week or so. Recently, websites have been posting pictures of what they claim is an ancient coin from Egypt depicting a space alien, and the claims filtered up to newspapers like Britain’s Sun. The image, which has been online for at least four years, is suspect for many reasons, including the fact that most ancient coins did not (and could not) depict their subjects in three-quarter profile. The inscription, which seems to be in Greek, is not cast in the ancient Greek style but looks later. The coin appears to have been altered, though I am not familiar with the underlying coin (or medallion, or token). I’m not even sure that there is a real and altered coin; a computer could have drawn the alien head onto a coin, accounting for the soft, brush-like strokes of the “face.”
I am amazed, however, that all of the advocates who claimed that the coin was real did not attempt to confirm this by reading the inscription on the coin. Surely this would give an indication of where the coin came from.
Update: My amazing readers, especially Ralf Buelow, solved the mystery of the alien coin in just minutes! The inscription on the coin reads BIΘΥΝΙΕΩΝ ΑΔΡΙΑΝΩΝ and the original coin was issued by Hadrian to commemorate his passage through Bithynia. The original coin featured the image of his lover, Antinous. The fake coin was computer generated from this real one, in fact, from this very photograph of it:
It is astonishing that my readers were able to find in minutes what fringe historians and even journalists could not uncover in four years.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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