There seems to be a bit of confusion over exactly what this episode of Ancient Aliens was supposed to be. According to my cable company’s on-screen guide, this was the first episode of season seven, but History’s website says that this is another episode from season six. I’m labeling this Ancient Aliens S06E12 “Aliens and Stargates” for now, but if I find something official about its designation, I’ll come back and change the episode number.
What is much less ambiguous is the show’s desire to recycle and reuse ideas from past episodes. We’ve certainly heard about alleged star gates (I’m not spelling it as one made-up word) before; I remember joking about telling David Childress to run head-first into an Inca false door if he was so certain that it would transport him to the Orion nebula. Well, the Inca door is not on the agenda but other doors and windows in Peru are featured in the weird funhouse-mirror world of Ancient Aliens. There is a great scene in Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera where the Vicomte de Chagny is trapped in a hexagonal room whose walls are mirrors.
I have said that the room in which M. le Vicomte de Chagny and I were imprisoned was a regular hexagon, lined entirely with mirrors. Plenty of these rooms have been seen since, mainly at exhibitions: they are called "palaces of illusion," or some such name. But the invention belongs entirely to Erik, who built the first room of this kind under my eyes, at the time of the rosy hours of Mazenderan. A decorative object, such as a column, for instance, was placed in one of the corners and immediately produced a hall of a thousand columns; for, thanks to the mirrors, the real room was multiplied by six hexagonal rooms, each of which, in its turn, was multiplied indefinitely.
The competing reflections create the illusion of endless halls filled with whatever is placed in one of the corners. That’s Ancient Aliens in a nutshell: endless reflections of the same couple of ideas, repeating infinitely to give the illusion of depth and grandeur.
Our episode suggests that wormholes can be found here on earth and that they connect us to other planets. This seems to be a reaction to the realization that modern physics has fairly good arguments for why conventional 1950s-style flying saucers could not physically make the journey across the vast gulfs of space. So now we have wormholes and star gates to explain away the inconvenient physics. The show admits this, in time.
We open in Pamukkale, Turkey where recently (last March) archaeologists uncovered a so-called “Gateway to Hell,” a Plutonium, one of many imaginary entrances to the underworld scattered across the Greco-Roman world. They were everywhere in the ancient world and were, of course, symbolic. This particular gateway to the underworld was part of the cult of Cybele, and Ancient Aliens wants us to think that Philip Coppens’s widow, Kathleen McGowan Coppens, is qualified to discuss the mysteries of Cybele despite the fact that she believes herself to be the semi-divine descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene and has no formal education in ancient history, archaeology, or mythology. She is very obviously reciting from a prepared text.
The narrator informs us that everywhere around the world there were symbolic gateways to the realm of the gods. William Henry, whose stock and trade is spirituality and star gates rather than aliens, tells us that myths associated with these gates relate them to “advanced beings who came from the stars, Star Beings.” This just isn’t true. Try naming some. You will find them very rarely since most ancient peoples (e.g. the Babylonians, the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Egyptians) thought that the sky was a large, solid dome and the stars either pinholes in the dome or small lamps hung from it. There was no room for the gods there.
Since Henry makes his money from selling material about alleged star gates (he also thinks telephone booths are symbolic portals to other dimensions), this episode is really an hour-long infomercial for Henry. His website logo features the Y in his name turning into a star gate in the form of a wormhole.
I love the way Henry tells us that “the terms we use today” for doors to other dimensions is “Star Gate,” as though that usage doesn’t derive from the 1994 movie of the same name. The term “Star Gate” was used occasionally before 1994, sometimes to describe scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Back further, Andre Norton’s 1958 novel Star Gate includes a similar portal, which transports users to alternate worlds, a concept revisited in Pauline Gedge’s 1982 novel Stargate, which was the very loose inspiration for—yes—the 1994 movie. Are you seeing a pattern yet? It’s sci-fi, not science, that uses the Star Gate moniker. Ancient astronaut theorists adopted it from sci-fi and either pretend they did not or are not aware of the borrowing.
The Star Gate concept per se doesn’t really exist before Andre Norton, at least not by name, though it clearly has sci-fi antecedents in Golden Age science fiction, as well as H. P. Lovecraft’s idea that high-end mathematics and non-Euclidean angles could give access to hyperspace in “The Dreams in the Witch House,” as well as the Gate through which Randolph Carter can access all of the many planets and realms of creation in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” Heck, it probably bears more than a passing resemblance to old Looney Tunes where Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny opens a door and sees something incongruous on the other side—another land, outer space, whatever. The deep origins probably come from legends of teleporting wizards or gods.
The show, however, takes all this science-fiction very literally and suggests that the Turkish Plutonium was in fact a passage to another planet and that the goddess Cybele was an “otherworldly” (note: no longer alien) being. Now, this is where I’m confused. McGowan-Coppens tells us that “the ancients were doing something really important with this idea of time travel, of portals…” and then drops time travel, but the ancients said that these holes in the ground went underground. Not to space. Not to another planet. Underground. Why am I supposed to take parts of the ancient stories literally but not the rest of the stories? The rules of ancient astronautics baffle me.
David Wilcock suggests that the priests who entered the cave went through a “portal,” and David Childress calls it an “inter-dimensional star gate technology.” They suggest that because the cave contained toxic carbon dioxide fumes which were used to kill sacrificial bulls, the priests must have teleported out of the cave to avoid the fumes. It doesn’t occur to them that the priests simply waited inside the cave entrance, where the fumes were more diffuse, while the tethered bull slowly suffocated down below. Nope. Has to be an inter-dimensional portal. Strabo (13.4.14) informs us that the priests only went a little way into the cave, and that they held their breath while inside, and that he could see them start to suffocate before they came back out.
Next we travel to Machu Picchu, a site from the 1400s CE, not a terribly old site by any estimate. This leads to a discussion of the Inca creation myth, where the children of Viracocha entered the world through three windows in a mountain. You can take that for what it’s worth since there are many variants of Inca creation legends. A more common version has the children rise up through the cave of Puma Orco at Pacaritambo, which avoids the need for star gates. The pundits all neglect to note the existence of variant myths and instead declare star gates the source of Inca civilization.
After the break, Albert Einstein is invoked to justify the physics of wormholes, whose existence has yet to be scientifically demonstrated. Michael Dennin, the physicist, is back to lend his fragile credibility to another episode of Ancient Aliens. Nick Redfern concedes that flying saucers can’t likely fly regularly to earth because of the distances involved, and the show explains the difficulties of producing wormholes with conventional means. Dennin suggests that exotic matter (with negative mass) could be used to power up a wormhole, though he concedes it would take enormous amounts of energy (equivalent to more than the entire mass of Jupiter) to create one wormhole, let alone the thousands that Ancient Aliens thinks are on earth. To justify this, the show suggests that space-time is naturally riven with small wormholes the size of atoms that the aliens could stretch into something big enough to walk through with relative ease.
Jason Martell tells us that wormholes “may” explain how humans interacted with “ancient gods,” which I guess reflects the assumption that the gods are real. I’m still waiting to hear back from Zeus for comment, but so far he hasn’t returned my calls.
We look at a pre-Conquest northern Mexican city called Casas Grandes (Paquimé) in Chihuahua (not to be confused with Casa Grande on the Gila River in Arizona) that combines Mesoamerican and Pueblo cultural traits. It is classified archaeologically as a Puebloan site, though many archaeologists suspect it was instrumental in transmitting central Mexican ideas to the American southwest. This is interesting, but the show doesn’t care about this and instead focuses on what ancient astronaut theorist Logan Hawkes calls “tall, blond Star People,” according to legends recorded in modern times and therefore of relatively little value in determining prehistoric beliefs. Archaeology tells us that Paquimé’s people worshipped Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, neither of whom are Nordic aliens. I do not know where this story of Caucasian aliens at Casas Grandes came from, but Andrew Collins starts to tell us that Caucasian aliens come out of the star gates to civilize the earth’s brown people. It’s a bit disturbing, especially since it is well known that European accounts of “Caucasian” Native gods, particularly Quetzalcoatl, are a combination of propaganda and misunderstanding.
After the break, we change course entirely and ask whether the Sargasso Sea is a star gate that sucks ships into another dimension. What’s to say about that? Giorgio Tsoukalos claims, falsely, that ships were found “perfectly intact there, but the crew will have disappeared without a trace.” He is probably paraphrasing the “mystery” of the Mary Celeste, which was not found in that condition except in a fictional account written by Arthur Conan Doyle and mistaken for true by generations of mystery-mongers. The real story was much more pedestrian; the crew was indeed missing, but the ship was not intact; it was a “thoroughly wet mess” according to one of the sailors who found her adrift. The show, though, skips the Mary Celeste, found near Portugal rather than the Sargasso Sea (so much for a wormhole), for an equally fictional mystery.
Ancient Aliens quotes a London Times article of August 27, 1840 (published November 6) claiming that a French ship called the Rosalie had been discovered adrift in the Sargasso Sea with all crew vanished but the ship intact, its sails still set. The article, however, is fiction. It conflates two events: The first was the abandonment of the Rossini in the Old Bahama Canal when it ran aground. The crew abandoned ship, but the ship broke free and drifted on its own until two British ships captured it. The other event was a real ship called the Rosalie, but which British Maritime Museum records show vanished in 1840 and was never recovered. There’s a lengthy discussion of the case here.
We are treated to more such stories, all equally legendary, and David Wilcock then tells us that the Sargasso Sea overlaps the Bermuda Triangle and is therefore a star gate. This gets back to the “Underwater Aliens” episode—and I just don’t care. The show doesn’t either since it teleports us to Michigan for more “mysteries” involving locked rooms, missing people, and vanishing airplanes. I was under the impression that one had to actually enter a star gate (wormhole) to go from one place to another (wasn’t that the point of the cave segment?) but now the star gate is some kind of Star Trek transporter beam. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency? How exactly does a crew get sucked out of a ship but the ship left behind, especially if the beam comes from below?
Following this, we get UFO reports, which Wilcock informs us are “spherical formations of plasma,” because that is the shape of gateways “through space and time.” This completely contradicts earlier episodes that attributed mysterious lights to UFOs, and apparently Giorgio Tsoukalos must recognize this. His godly chariots depend on nuts-and-bolts UFOs, so he is almost nowhere to be seen in this episode as the cockamamie spirituality of David Wilcock and William Henry dominates the hour.
Frankly, I’m bored with 24 minutes still to go. I’ll summarize the rest more quickly because the amount of information declines with the minutes left in the hour.
After the break we get a science segment on space travel and propulsion in terms of quantum entanglement. This is more science-adjacent material designed not to really explore space travel but to provide a veneer of physics to justify belief that aliens came to earth. If you are interested in theoretical space travel, you might enjoy this segment. I’m not, and I’m not interested in the physics of wormholes.
After the break we travel to Abydos in Egypt to view a wall painting. Some largely irrelevant time filler on the myth of Osiris wastes a few minutes. The painting in question depicts a small vessel on a pillar, apparently covered in a cloth, within which the severed head of Osiris was supposedly kept after his dismemberment. William Henry says that the crown atop it looks like an “antenna” so therefore the relic is “mechanical,” but neither he nor the show explains that the “Osiris device” is not unique to this wall but is in fact a standard topping for the djed pillar, or world tree. Even Henry himself points this out on his own website, so here the show is simply being deceptive.
“Remember,” Giorgio Tsoukalos says in a piece of tape cut from what seems to be a discussion of a completely different subject, “the universe is infinite, which means that there are infinite possibilities.” So why am I stuck in the one where this show is still on?
William Henry finishes the hour by telling us that the gods intend for us to join them in the stars by reactivating wormholes around the world, so that we might join them in rapture forever and ever, for theirs is the power and the glory… blah, blah, blah… aliens are our gods. Worship and be saved!
1/25/2014 04:16:58 am
Thanks for the informative blog. I've been watching this show for its comedic value for a while, sensing that it was an absolute load. You're one of my first sites visited when I go looking for the truths behind the illusion. After all, these are truly interesting topics... once you get the true story.
1/25/2014 04:27:56 am
"The narrator informs us that everyone around the world there were symbolic gateways to the realm of the gods."
1/25/2014 04:53:30 am
1/25/2014 04:40:36 am
Turned it off after ten minutes. Boring. This is their religion. Equating aliens with God. Human are screwing everything up so we need aliens to save us.
Scott David Hamilton
1/25/2014 04:49:30 am
Where you mention Close Encounters, I think you meant 2001.
1/25/2014 04:54:54 am
The book I checked used the term in discussing Close Encounters, which seemed weird to me, too, but I think it was trying to draw parallels between the two films. I think I'll go back and change it just to avoid any other confusion.
Scott David Hamilton
1/25/2014 03:50:12 pm
I can only think someone must have been confused, because I'm pretty sure the whole point of the Flight 19 stuff in CE3K was to demonstrate that the aliens' mothership traveled at relativistic speed.
1/25/2014 05:03:38 am
Wormholes are bullshit!
1/26/2014 01:18:45 am
Have you been leaking information to Stephen Hawking again, Zeus?
1/25/2014 05:33:37 am
This episode did it again like every episode of Ancient Aliens I've ever watched. They had the moment where the narrator tells us they will give us 'more evidence' of whatever cockamamie theory they have in this episode by going somewhere else and looking at something entirely different. I wonder if that works anywhere else in life. Does a prosecutor get to prove one man's guilt of fraud by showing evidence of another man's guilt of murder?
1/25/2014 05:44:25 am
I fell asleep 20 minutes into this ep. I can't imagine AA can really sustain with more eps like this -- pretty much the tv equivalent of running on fumes. Also a bad idea to bury Georgio, since he's basically the show's "star" if only for comedic purposes.
1/25/2014 08:11:33 am
you made it 10 minutes linger than I did. I dont think I have ever been able to make it through a hole episode without falling asleep. I don't know how Jason does it.
1/25/2014 06:18:43 am
Jason- Another great review.
1/25/2014 07:16:29 am
Although a little dated, I found this somewhat humorous take on the History channel.
1/25/2014 08:11:11 am
I've not seen this. Thanks!
1/25/2014 08:41:52 am
Dan, thanks for posting that link. Quite funny.
1/25/2014 09:19:38 am
They've always had wacky shows. Ages ago, they used to have "History's Mysteries" that regularly looked into ancient astronauts. They also reran A&E's old paranormal programming. But they were taken by surprise by the success of the Ancient Aliens 2-hour special in 2009 and discovered it was a bona fide hit when taken to series in 2010. Since the main network was already home to reality hits, they decided to spin off AA to H2 to help build the brand, which they extended with America Unearthed. Ancient Aliens' success led directly to America Unearthed.
11/9/2014 10:54:03 am
History's Mysteries was way way better than this. At least that show had a glimmer of possibilities that were coherent. This show belongs strictly to the web. UFO Hunters was another waste o' time.
1/25/2014 08:08:37 am
Jason, when you tried to contact Zeus are you sure you were using the correct rites? Did you sacrifice the bull properly? Maybe if you can't get anything out of the livers, you should try his office/oracle at Dodona. Although if he is an alien, I don't understand why he likes burnt offerings anyway. Does the smoke travel through wormholes to get to him?
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/25/2014 09:12:01 am
I think part of the reason fewer people comment on AA than AU posts is that so very much of the AA content is so bizarre and out there that it couldn't be tested even if we tried, because it turns into claim whack-a-mole. "Well of COURSE there wasn't a wormhole at Delphi, it was too well known! Look at Kos!" At some point most people just tune it out.
1/25/2014 09:17:22 am
Frankly, the only fun parts left are when I catch them "researching" from fringe history books claims that are so easily disproved (see: The Rosalie) that they are either intentionally misleading viewers or are so drunk on the Kool-Aid that they genuinely don't know their claims can be fact-checked against reality. But, really, it's just a wacky religious group now. They don't even try to pretend the aliens are extraterrestrials, just "otherworldly" beings who happen to be immortal, all-powerful, and unknowable--you know, pagan gods!
1/25/2014 10:05:26 am
Exactly. AU is believable. I think I watched half of season one of AU before alarm bells went off in my head and I researched it, ending up here. Ancient Aliens just isn't very believable. I watch it and can think of just a few things that made me wonder, and Jason didn't debunk, but that's 5 minutes of content out of 6 seasons.
1/25/2014 09:34:05 am
Sorry I haven't returned your calls. I stopped being real a couple thousand years ago when people stopped believing in me. And not being real makes it hard to get a good cell phone plan.
1/25/2014 01:31:30 pm
I read a short story many years ago about what happens to a god when his last believer dies. The god could chose to either die or become mortal I think. Anybody remember that story?
1/26/2014 01:21:10 am
Have you tried Facebook to contact Neil Gaiman? He posts regularly and is quite delightful.
1/25/2014 11:01:42 am
At least this is clear,according to "ancient aliens theorists",Aliens from outer space have the ability to travel through wormholes.You have to wonder why they instructed mankind to build sophisticated landing sites such as Baalbek.I love the idea of Aliens traveling without space ships.Eco-tourism at its best
1/25/2014 01:26:15 pm
William Hope Hodgson's novel, "The Boats of the Glen Carrig" plus several short stories are about ships becoming entrapped in the Sargasso sea.
The Other J.
1/25/2014 01:51:31 pm
I wonder if the star gate fixation has roots prior to sci-fi in portal fiction. Narnia, Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz, and prior to that faerie folk tales where people find themselves in this other realm with strange beings.
1/25/2014 09:46:50 pm
glad your reviewing an ancient alien episodes again!
1/25/2014 09:47:40 pm
1/26/2014 01:17:40 am
My husband had the DVR record this episode and he watched it yesterday evening. Once it ended he began flipping channels and what did he find but the original "Star Gate" motion picture with Kurt Russell and James Spader. Coincidence? ("No such thing as coincidence." - Leroy Jethro Gibbs. "Never ignore a coincidence. Unless you're busy, then always ignore coincidences." - The Eleventh Doctor.)
1/26/2014 04:27:24 am
I think it is fascinating that anyone would imagine that a civilization capable of creating an energy output equivalent to more than the entire mass of Jupiter for every wormhole they create is unable to think of anything better to do once they get here then make crop circles, mutilate cattle, probe our rectums, and tell otherwise insignificant people important messages of global salvation.
1/26/2014 05:24:19 am
Jason, The reason why you are baffled by ancient astronautics, is that you have no formal education in Ancient Astronautics and Ancient Otherworldy Beings Theory since never attended the VonDaniken and Tsoukalous University or the Childress-Coppens Institute of Extraterrerial Technology..... :-)
1/26/2014 05:26:06 am
Don't give them ideas! We already had the for-profit Sitchin Studies program (complete with mock diploma). We don't need another one!
1/26/2014 02:39:01 pm
Can anyone explain why Stichin calls for the Anunaki to create mankind to mine gold? Seems like if they were able to transverse the galaxy or perhaps travel intergalacticaly they would be able to synthesize gold? Or perhaps have advanced extraction method that is far superior to the massive amount of work it takes for their creation to dig the gold up. Oppss I guess the who from the Sky came are just having a bit if fun!
1/26/2014 10:31:16 pm
I imagine its because Sitchin, of Jewish heritage, was subconsciously reusing and appropriating anti-Semitic stereotypes: His aliens, like the fictional Jews of anti-Semitic imagination, are a small and insular minority who rule the world in secret, conduct blood rituals, and lust for gold.
1/26/2014 08:26:40 am
I'm glad you put the smiley at the end of your note. I thought you were serious until I saw the smiley!
1/26/2014 05:35:51 am
I just watched the episode and have to say that in the segment where they were talking about Northwest Airlines flight 2501 crash, one of the "specialists" says "Nothing was ever found. Not a belt buckle or wallet, nothing", but that's not correct. They found upholstery and even fragments of the deceaseds bodies.
1/26/2014 08:42:03 am
Of course. It wouldn't fit into the "POOF! They all disappeared" paradigm.
11/9/2014 11:00:46 am
DB Cooper used a wormhole.
1/26/2014 06:28:10 pm
Good article Jason and a nice job of revealing what a handful of confetti the episode truly was.
1/28/2014 02:01:00 am
We watch this AA and the Unearthed ..the Wolter show for laughs, as a game of " find the Bs with doesn't connect or is misleading, or a lie"...the ironic thing is, that I like reading your reviews, and like to further research on the actual history and details. So, in spite of the BS mega show, I AM learning a lot of history etc ...just not the way they planned.
2/28/2014 03:56:57 pm
my physicist daughter and I love Ancient Aliens as a comic relief. I had no idea what a meme was until she turned me onto crazy hair guy. I think this is the most hilarious thing. And when I hear "Ancient alien theorists believe," it is the opposite of what I, as a scientist, believe.
8/23/2017 08:08:01 pm
liz, although criticism is important, it is easy to defend the first minutes [turkey cave] by adding "one of the" inca stories to explain the priest because the criticism that there are more than one does not erase the one quoted. so once we know "one of the" inca legends we can defend the first section from almost every detail in the first six paragraphs. also the birds dying challenges strabo rational approach the destination could be changed. more importantly still, when we look at ancient legends of egypt "they came in flying boats" in contrast to visitors to inca came in portals built by the ones who came in boats this can defend the issue of "impossible in ship".we do not know "how' we do know flying boats came to egypt and america legends quoted in season 1 episode 2 with carvings of helmets.. those who came in flying boats built the portals for the other gods to come to incas. long enuf.
6/2/2014 04:09:17 pm
I watch the show just to look at Giorgio A. Tsoukalos hair. Its one crazy dew
8/22/2014 12:04:58 pm
season 6 episode 13
11/17/2014 06:35:33 pm
What did the ancient astronaut cranks do, watch Stargate thinking it was a documentary? I bought the 15th anniversary Blu-ray disc and watched the "Is There a Stargate?" extra hoping to hear real scientists speak about whether we could have a functioning stargate like they showed in the movie, but when Erich von Däniken and his cabana boy Goku Tsoukalos (When will he go Super Saiyan already?) appeared on the TV screen, I knew I was in for a letdown. And why do the proposed aliens always look anthropomorphic? Do these people even science, bro? I'm no scientist, but if we find any sentient extraterrestrials, I'm pretty damn sure they won't look anything remotely humanoid for the same reason that they won't speak English. They might not even be carbon-based like us. There could be boron-based aliens, even though that element is pretty low in the cosmic abundance department. Or metal oxide-based life born of worlds too hot for organic life to take hold. Different worlds, different elemental compositions, different ways of being alive Unique biospheres won't occur twice.
8/23/2017 08:04:10 pm
aztec legend is a tradition.
9/23/2015 09:39:05 pm
I love how pseudo eggheads on the Internet get themselves tied in a knot trying to publicly dubunk a sci-fi show. He guys, it's a TV show. Do you spend a lot of time picking apart why those poor people are still stuck on Gilligan's Island too? You can all put your intellectual wankers away. The contest is over and you all win.
8/23/2017 07:58:39 pm
although criticism is important, it is easy to defend the first minutes [turkey cave] by adding "one of the" inca stories to explain the priest because your criticism that there are more than one does not erase the one quoted. so once we know "one of the" inca legends we can defend the first section from almost every detail in your first six paragraphs. also the birds dying challenges strabo rational approach the destination could be changed. more importantly still, when we look at ancient legends of egypt "they came in flying boats" in contrast to visitors to inca came in portals built by the ones who came in boats this can defend the issue of "impossible in ship".we do not know "how' we do know flying boats came to egypt and america. those who came in flying boats built the portals for the other gods to come to incas. long enuf.
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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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