Ancient Aliens tried to claim that the undead were not “mere myths” but aliens in the episode “Aliens and the Undead.” Sadly, however, the first half hour did not focus on vampires and zombies as promised but instead went the more prosaic route of exploring whether Egyptian mummies had a relationship to alien cryogenic body preservation technology, and whether afterlife deities were actually extraterrestrials.
Much hay was made from the odd shape in the depiction of the heads of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton and his family, arguing that this was an imitation of alien skulls. Similar skulls, the program notes, are found in Peru, but such deformations are rather easy to produce with infant head-binding. There is no particular reason to imagine a connection between Egypt and Peru, much less an extraterrestrial one. While the program claims "only" the alien-influenced cultures of Peru and Egypt practiced cranial deformation, in fact Neanderthals did it 45,000 years ago, as did early human cultures of the Neolithic and historically-documented groups in Australia, the Pacific Islands, North America, and late Antique Europe (the Huns and Alans, and the Germanic peoples they influenced). So, chalk one up to another flat-out Ancient Aliens lie.
Then, halfway through, we finally got to the vampires. But of course Ancient Aliens managed to muck it up by conflating vampires with vengeful spirits and blood-sucking demons and then calling all of them “extraterrestrials abandoned here on earth.” Because aliens apparently like to suck blood (“cosmic fuel,” the narrator said) since, you know, creatures from another world clearly evolved to survive on the blood of mammals. (Funny, I thought the aliens ate gold, as per Laurence Gardner, building on Zecharia Sitchin.) But no! Minutes later it isn’t that aliens are eating the blood. Instead, the “theory” is now that human blood loss leads to altered states of consciousness that open human minds to extraterrestrial worlds through some kind of quantum window. Or, as David Hatcher Childress claims, ritual bloodletting, as in Mayan rituals, is merely the aliens’ way of showing us “how important” our blood is. As opposed, apparently, to spinal fluid or various internal organs.
The program wonders what it takes to bring a dead person back to life (other than, of course, CPR, or, today, a defibrillator). Childress, stupidly, states: “What kind of powers would you have to have to do that? The powers of an extraterrestrial?” No, just a lifeguard. Remember, this man spent the last three decades vehemently arguing that he was not an ancient astronaut theorist. Now he talks of how the aliens will shepherd our souls to the stars after death.
Ancient Aliens speculates that the “aliens” exist on a separate plane from us, and our souls will move to that space after death, where we will rejoin the aliens in a cosmic paradise. At some point these aliens stopped having any meaningful distinction from the gods they were originally proposed to replace. At this point, we might as well give up the concept of “ancient aliens” altogether and admit that the ancient astronaut theorists just want the pagan gods to be real so they can give them magic gifts.
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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