Ancient Aliens S06E08 “Mysterious Relics” continues the show’s decent into religious mystery-mongering, opening with the Shroud of Turin in its rundown of upcoming material. After the credits, we start with the 2013 U.S. Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House, which the show traces back to Roman medals of bravery from the second century BCE. The show wants to know why “metal” is so important for decoration and adornment. The ghost of Philip Coppens relates this to Judaism’s metal breastplates for the priests, and the narrators simply tells us that gold, silver, and platinum connect people to the “divine, or some might say extraterrestrial” powers. Obviously, the show no longer sees a meaningful difference between the two. Ancient Aliens is rapidly becoming a sort of Unitarian Universalist Hour of Power.
Alan Butler is on today—so he’s an ancient astronaut theorist now? I guess that explains his stupid moon theory.
Next we look at a Bronze Age gold cone-shaped hat with astronomical symbols, which survives in our culture today as the conical hats worn by wizards. The hat records the positions of the sun and moon over time, and the show considers this evidence of alien intervention, with Andrew Collins suggesting the knowledge came from another dimension during trances. Mike Bara concurs and explains that ancient people wore giant gold hats to receive energy beams channeled from the aliens in space directly into their brains. Philip Coppens and David Childress agree, with Childress suggesting that the aliens wore large conical hats themselves. I thought they wore space helmets. Oh, well, what do I know?
After this: Dead Sea Scrolls! We look at the Copper Scroll, an unusual scroll made of copper (with a bit of tin) that records locations where gold and silver treasures were buried. We get some conspiracy theories about secret codes in the scroll, with no evidence, and Giorgio Tsoukalos tells us that there may be a missing piece that will help us understand it. But that ends that… Even this show can’t pretend aliens wrote it because it’s so poorly written, almost illiterate. (Mainstream scholars think a semi-literate or illiterate artisan copied the characters onto the scroll.)
Following this, we look at Bulgarian bones unearthed in 2012 and carbon dated to the first century CE, which believers now claim belonged to John the Baptist. This discussion goes nowhere as various talking heads talked about how people like to venerate ancestral bones. This has nothing to do with aliens. This leads to legends about the tooth of the Buddha which survived his cremation. (There are actually seven teeth that all claim to be Buddha’s one tooth.) The show wonders if bones can connect believers to the afterlife and the gods, which more or less just accepts religious claims at face value, though Andrew Collins allows that this is “psychological” rather than physical. Childress stresses the importance of owning “divine” DNA, and Erich von Däniken suggests that the aliens told early humans to preserve their bodies so the aliens could return and clone them. (He suggests that the preserved people were their “darlings,” which gets into his horny-alien hypothesis, derived as everything in this stupid theory is, from Genesis 6:4).
Now we are on the Shroud of Turin, and the show tries to grapple with questions over the shroud’s authenticity, but only to the extent that they can establish doubt over how the image was made in order to open the window to a miracle, asserting that today we cannot duplicate such an image with all our technology. William Henry falsely claims that Italian scientists “proved” in 2011 that the Shroud was formed by an “unearthly” or “supernatural flash of light,” which is false on its surface since the supernatural is, by definition, beyond the purview of science; the scientists actually claimed the image was the work of “a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation,” which is not supernatural, or visible light. Henry says Jesus transformed into pure light and projected himself through the Shroud.
Next we look at the Blarney Stone, which folklore claims provided rhetorical gifts. David Wilcock tries to explain this, and his tangled syntax shows he clearly has not kissed the stone. The show takes this very seriously and asks whether stones really can impact our power of speech. Wilcock asserts that it’s “obvious” that Irish gods and goddesses were not “humans” so therefore they are aliens (a false dichotomy), and that they in turn “impregnated” rhetorical competence into the Blarney Stone through unknown “energy” technology which could be transmitted orally by placing one’s mouth on the stone.
After this, we look at the Stone of Destiny, the Lia Fáil, in Ireland, atop the Hill of Tara, where the Irish kings were crowned. Because Tara was associated with the gods, who had magical powers, this must therefore be an alien landing strip. Childress suggests that the aliens were “arriving in UFOs,” thus causing three days of darkness at Tara. This actually is a bit of a jolt since it is the only time the show breaks from religion and spirituality to go old school with aliens. Wilcock calls the stone—which is rock, I remind you—a piece of technology that could see through time to predict the future.
After the break, we’re on to meteors and the glass created in the Libyan Desert by a meteor impact. This is funny because Childress, long ago, asserted that this glass was the result of nuclear war between Lemuria and the land of Osiris in the days of the Rama Empire! (Those last two are Lemurian Fellowship creations that he used to believe in.) We discuss various meteor pieces used in ancient art, and references to meteors in Prometheus Bound and the Aeneid. Tsoukalos can’t manage to think of a reason these are actually alien and instead suggests that they were seen as symbolically alien for coming from space, which says nothing at all since here gods and aliens become again synonymous.
Moving from this, the show asserts that the Holy Grail (which they identify as Jesus’ cup at the last supper) was made of green meteoric glass from the Czech Republic called moldavite. This is a bit of a confusing claim, and I think it derives from the Chalice of Genoa, which was found during the Crusades at Caesaria Maritimia and believed to be made of emerald. Heralded in the early modern period as the Holy Grail, it fell into discredit when it broke during the Napoleonic Wars and was revealed to be green glass. We hear that “legend” ascribes to the Grail the property of being a green stone fallen from Lucifer’s crown during the rebellion of the angels, and this is from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival (c. 1205 CE), well, sort of.
Wolfram’s stone grail, described in Book 9 of Parzival, was in marked contrast to the earliest Grail, that of Chretien de Troyes, which was a gold dish, but so far as I can find in reading about a dozen translations of his description, it isn’t green. (Even Joe Nickell got this wrong.) Wolfram, unbeknownst to ancient astronaut theorists, specifically wrote that a pagan-Islamic astronomer (it was the Middle Ages; they didn’t know better), writing in Arabic, learned about the Grail “from the stars” and that beings from space (angels) brought the stone down from the stars with them. You’d think if Ancient Aliens bothered to read the original sources they’d have found evidence that supports their theory rather than undermine it by trying to make the grail into green Czech glass.
So how do we get to Lucifer’s emerald? Good question. Wolfram described the grail and then, immediately thereafter, said that “They who took no part in the conflict, when Lucifer would fight with Three-in-One, those angels were cast forth from Heaven’s height. To the earth they came, at God’s bidding, and that wondrous stone did tend” (trans. Jesse L. Weston). From this, some speculators read Hermes Trismegistus for the Three-in-One, and associated Hermes with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, from Arabian lore. Of course, the actual meaning of the lines is that the neutral angels tended the Grail while Lucifer battled God, the Trinity. It’s possible, given the attribution of the Grail myth to Arabic texts, that Wolfram had in mind the alleged alchemical power of the Emerald Tablet, also from Arabic texts, when describing the Holy Grail as essentially the Philosopher’s Stone.
This, in turn, ties in with a legendary set of songs supposedly composed by bards which included Wolfram, called the Wartburgkrieg, composed at least fifty years later. In the surviving accounts, one of the poems told how Lucifer’s crown had a stone that fell to earth thanks to St. Michael: “Sixty thousand angels who wished to drive God from heaven had a crown made for Lucifer. When the archangel Michael tore this from Lucifer’s head, a stone sprang loose from it, and that stone is the Grail” (trans. William Ashton Ellis). This, in its turn, derived from the medieval myth that Venus, the Morning Star, was the jewel from Lucifer’s crown. Many writers fail to distinguish between this poem and Parzival, and some fringe writers attribute these lines to Parzival.
In neither source, however, is the stone green, at least not in any English translation I’ve read. Perhaps the medieval German mentions it, but it doesn’t seem likely. The closest I can find seems to be the part where Wolfram says the Grail is carried on “achmardi,” his word for green brocaded silk. The green color in modern descriptions would seem to come with conflation of this with the Emerald Tablet and the emerald chalice of Genoa, which was proclaimed the Holy Grail around 1100 CE. In truth, however, the answer is still more prosaic, and sad. In 1832, “San Marte” (Albert Schulz) produced a loose paraphrase of Wolfram in which he interpolated the Wartburgkrieg text without indicating the distinction. He falsely makes Wolfram say:
The holy Grail is a stone of the most wondrous and mysterious kind. A number of angels having remained neutral and inactive during the battle of Lucifer and the rebel angels against God and the faithful heavenly hosts, after Lucifer’s fall they were condemned by God to support this stone, which had dropped from Lucifer’s crown, hovering between Heaven and Earth till the hour of redemption of sinful mankind. Then they brought it to Earth, and, formed into a costly vessel, it served for the dish out of which Christ ate the Pascal lamb, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received the Saviour’s blood. (trans. William Ashton Ellis)
Wolfram’s version stops at “support this stone.” Everything after is Schulz’s text. Victorian authors repeated this rather than bother to read the original (which, being medieval German they could not), and thus Wolfram became retroactively the originator of the claim of Lucifer’s crown. Modern people know the story because of glosses and notes on Wagner, using these Victorian sources, interpolated into editions of Parsifal. Again, even today, nobody checks the original source.
From this Robert Simmons, in The Book of Stones (2005/2007), apparently was the first to decide that the emerald grail was Czech moldavite, and he asserts that using moldavite can help us to “realign” our heart to God, activate the Grail in our hearts, and induce global “Christ consiousness.”
You can see how much I liked this episode since I spent most of my time on the only topic I found interesting. In fact, I found a fascinating discussion of the Lucifer stone that I have posted in my Library.
Back to the show…
Another stone is discussed, and it’s more of the same. Then we’re on to the Kaaba in Mecca, whose cornerstone is believed to be a meteorite. David Childress then libels Islam by claiming Muslims “worship” the “extraterrestrial stone,” which misunderstands the concept of veneration, and he comes dangerously close in his phrasing to asserting that the stone was itself a god equal to Allah. He states that Muhammad retained the stone for Islam (having previously been part of pagan faith) in “memory of some extraterrestrial event.” The narrator suggests that the stone had the power to teleport believers to other dimensions.
This leads, after the break, to a discussion of the magic power of the True Cross of Christ, described as the “most powerful” relic on earth. The show accepts at face value that St. Helena discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem. Childress finds it “fascinating” that the True Cross contains “divine” energy via “extraterrestrial power” we don’t understand, technological artifacts capable of great healing. At least he’s consistent in claiming religious believers of each stripe worship alien medical devices as gods. The show stops short of calling Jesus an alien.
In the end, though, the show isn’t quite able to decide whether relics are actual alien artifacts and chunks of aliens carrying magic DNA, or whether they were simply “strangely connected” to them through human belief in their symbolic relationship to the aliens and/or gods. The final words from the narrator assert that the “saints and martyrs”—his words—will “rise again” when we clone them via their preserved DNA, as though a clone were a resurrection of the original individual and not merely a new person sharing the same DNA, no more alike than a twin sibling.
So, again, all religion, almost no aliens.
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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