When Kenneth Arnold saw the first flying saucers seventy-five years ago, it took very little time for fantasists to cherry pick pieces of history to create the ancient astronaut theory as a sort of prehistory for UFOs. Arnold saw his saucers on June 25, 1947, and on July 3 San Francisco theosophical occultist Ole J. Sneide became the first known person to connect flying saucers to ancient astronauts. Since then, the two ideas, UFOs and ancient astronauts, have revolved around one another, and eventually most ufologists come to embrace some version of the ancient astronaut theory. Therefore, it was no surprise that the man with the U.S. Senate’s ear on UFOs, Lue Elizondo, came out as an ancient astronaut theorist in a recent interview, as The Daily Grail recently reported.
Speaking to the Theories of Everything podcast recently, Elizondo talked about some of the so-called “evidence” ancient astronaut theorists have beaten into the ground as support for his views about the long history of UFOs. He specifically cited the 1561 Nuremberg woodcut, vimanas from Sanskrit epics, and the infamous Ica Stones. The Nuremberg woodcut comes from a sixteenth century German newspaper and depicts a particularly dramatic sundog. UFO enthusiasts have interpreted the drawing—made secondhand by an artist who did not witness the atmospheric lightshow—as a picture of UFO armadas engaged in battle.
Anyone who has read my many reviews of Ancient Aliens is aware that the claims for UFO vimanas are conflations of wild exaggerations and hoaxes, rooted not in the myths of flying chariots in Sanskrit epics but in a “channeled” astral text from the twentieth century, as I discussed long ago. The channeled text, published in 1952 but alleged to have been received from the spirit realm between 1918 and 1923 claimed that flying palaces and chariots of myth were actual, physical modern-style airplanes, and included discussion of their supposed propulsion systems.
The Elizondo called the Ica Stones—which he misnames as “Inca Stones”—“very interesting” is a damning assessment of his critical faculties. The stones, a modern hoax created by Dr. Javier Cabrera, who hired local artisans to carve bizarre designs featuring humans interacting with dinosaurs and high technology. The stones’ carvers confessed, and analysis of the stones demonstrated their modern provenance. Elizondo says he visited the Ica Stones and photographed them on a visit to the Air Force Intelligence Office in Lima, Peru. Like every good ancient astronaut theorist, he intends for you to believe the claims, while offering enough qualifiers to ensure that he can claim never to have endorsed the hoax. “Is that proof positive or evidence of anything? No. Could be someone’s wild imagination, y’know there’s lots of that out there. But y’know could be something else, too.”
Kirsten Gillibrand better get her drafting pen ready. It looks like we’ll soon need a second Pentagon office to watch Ancient Aliens and start “investigating” its national security implications.
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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