Actress Megan Fox, an ardent fan of Ancient Aliens, made headlines again with a ridiculous claim in the Los Angeles Times in which she alleged that the Egyptian government is covering up the true origin and purpose of the Great Pyramid. She also said she wants to host her own fringe show on the Viceland channel, corporate cousin to the History Channel and Ancient Aliens. According to Fox, an unnamed person “high-ranking in the field” confessed the truth about the Great Pyramid while giving Fox and Shia LaBeouf a tour of Khufu’s construction in 2009.
“They presume they may have been some type of energy plant at some point,” she told Los Angeles Times. “The sarcophagus that is in the Great Pyramid was put there by the government for tourism. And that sparked in me an interest in really exposing this sort of sort of [sic] thing, because I realized I have access to things I shouldn’t have access to because of what I do for a living.”
Yes, indeed, the best way to keep a conspiracy secret is to give access to Hollywood starlets.
The claim that the Great Pyramid was a power plant derives from the work of Christopher Dunn.
The sarcophagus in the Great Pyramid has been there since the building was constructed (being smaller than the door to the King’s Chamber) and wasn’t just visible to nineteenth century tourists but was also recorded by medieval Arab tourists. Al-Maqrizi, writing around 1400, made this plain in describing the opening of the pyramid by Al-Ma’mun in 832: “Al-Ma’mun had opened a breach in this pyramid and discovered a corridor that led to a sloping path, which rose upward to a cube-shaped room, on the floor of which was a marble coffin, still in place today because nobody has been able to move it” (Al-Khitat 1.40, my trans.). The language is a little imprecise—it’s granite, not marble—but the account is recognizably that of King’s Chamber as it is known to us.
But today I’d like to talk about a different bit of ancient astronautics, one I stumbled upon by accident while doing research into Tutankhamun’s dagger of meteoric iron. What surprised me most about the story is that ancient astronaut theorists seem to be unaware of it, and an interesting moment in their own history seems to have fallen into general obscurity. If found only one brief modern mention in a 2012 book of he unexplained.
Our story begins, as much as it can be said to have a beginning, around 1895 when the American astronomer Percival Lowell published his book Mars, which claimed that dark lines on the red planet’s surface were canals from an intelligent Martian civilization. The claim created a public frenzy, though most astronomers were skeptical. Across America in 1896 and 1897 newspapers reported stories, largely hoaxes and jokes, about Martians visiting America in mysterious airships. Across the Atlantic, H. G. Wells took inspiration from Lowell in crafting The War of the Worlds. He started writing the book in 1895, and it began serializing in Pearson’s in Britain and Cosmopolitan in America in the spring of 1897.
During this period, American newspapers were prone to printing sensational but entertaining material, more often than not with very little concern about its accuracy. In the early months of 1897, papers started running an undated, unverified bit of filler meant to take up space to even out a newspaper column. It could have been weeks, months, or even years old. But it said that a Belgian man had been hit by a meteorite that weighed thirty pounds and had strange hieroglyphs carved on the side.
Clearly, no one thought much of the claim, presented as humorous filler for months wherever space needed to be filled. But then in November of that year, the meteors struck again—right here in upstate New York! More strange writing fell to Earth in the garden of an upstate doctor.
“Prof.” Jeremiah MacDonald was a physician, astrologer, and con artist in Binghamton, New York, a seventh-generation New Yorker. He claimed to have graduated medical school in 1893 in Chicago (records are unclear whether this was true) and moved to Binghamton in 1895 to start diagnosing patients by the stars. There, he began a patent medicine company in 1897 and launched an astrological almanac that remained in print for 90 years. His Atlas Compound medicine promised to cure all “impurities” of the blood. Twenty years later, MacDonald pleaded guilty to fraud when it was discovered that his Atlas Compound was a combination of baking soda and laxative, with a sugar coating. After paying his $30 fine, MacDonald died the next year, in 1918. His almanac continued without him, and presumably without the mail order offer to diagnose illness by astrological signs and planetary positions.
I mention this so you will understand why our snake oil charlatan is not entirely to be trusted when he ran to the newspapers on November 14, 1897 with a shocking story that would happily enough give him the publicity he needed to launch his almanac and his patent medicine business. MacDonald claimed that the previous night he had returned to his Park Avenue home when a large meteor crashed into his garden. While it was still hot, he said he plunged it into water and broke it open, finding within a metal tablet on which were inscribed “a number of curious marks that some think to be characters,” as the New York Times put it a few days later. A teacher at the local high school examined the rock and declared it a meteor, and the collected intelligentsia of Binghamton declared that the characters resembled Egyptian hieroglyphs. MacDonald told the local press that the he believed that the meteor was intended to be a message from another world, probably Mars.
A few days later, the Canadian quack Ezekiel Stone Wiggins became interested in the case. Wiggins was a character of the first order, but was once considered a respected scientist and educator. At various times, he argued that dinosaurs still walked the Earth and were mistaken for sea monsters, that invisible planets’ gravity caused Noah’s Flood, that the sun was really a gigantic light bulb that generated no heat, and that the position of the planets could predict earthquakes and the weather. His attempts to predict the weather through astrology (dressed up in the language of gravity and astronomy) failed, and by the end of the 1880s he had become a joke. Even Mark Twain made fun of him, joking that a meteor would “lift him straight up into the back yard of the planet Mars, and leave him permanently there in an inconceivably mashed and unpleasant condition.” Nevertheless, he kept making predictions and weird claims—including one doozy that comets could never strike the Earth because their positive electric charge would cause them to be repelled from the positively charged Earth!
It seems that the New York Times considered him a good source of humorously eccentric nonsense, so they asked him to comment on the Binghamton meteor. He did not disappoint, delivering an early ancient astronaut theory that suggested that the Bible had been written by Martians!
My opinion is that stones have for many thousands of years fallen from space upon the earth which actually contained written characters. The ancient Jews and other nations speak of their sacred books as having fallen from heaven. As the earliest important records were preserved in stone, it seems probable that the idea originated with aerolites, like that of Binghamton. There is no doubt in my mind that there are thousands of these stones that have fallen to our planet since man arrived here and are messages from another planet.
So there you have it—meteors brought Martian texts to Earth!
Years later, experts recognized that the marks mistaken for hieroglyphs were natural lines and fractures caused by crystallization, but this strange little flap in year of Martian airships and Martian literature and Martian meteors seems to have fallen by the wayside among ancient astronaut theorists. What a shame; it’s a heck of a lot more interesting than most of the crap that passes for “facts” on Ancient Aliens, or with Megan Fox.
I have posted all of the original newspaper and magazine stories in my Library.
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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