This week Ancient Aliens presents another compilation of clips from past episodes. Ancient Aliens S06E21 Special Edition: “Mysterious Structures” offers a worst-of grouping of wild claims about such ancient sites as Easter Island, Baalbek, and Puma Punku, repeating claims that were already being repeated halfway through the series’ pilot episode. The bottom line: They can’t believe ancient people were able to work with stone, or move stone, being so primitive and stupid. The only thing keeping this fresh is that the two most overexposed structures—Stonehenge and the Pyramids—are left out, presumably for future re-use.
It’s hard to review a clip show since the material has already been seen before, and there isn’t really any effort to make something new out the parts. Instead, it’s just a way of repackaging old material in a blatant effort to fool viewers into thinking it’s “new.” It’s a cash grab destined for an inevitable “Best Of…” home video release.
We open at Carnac from one of the earliest Ancient Aliens episodes, in which David Childress professes ignorance of why prehistoric people would bother making large lines of stones. The narrator connects this to the Greek poet Pindar’s description of Hyperborea in Pythian 10 and Olympian 3, the land where the sun never set, though the show seems to think Pindar described Apollo traveling from Hyperborea to Greece in a flaming chariot, i.e. a UFO, as Giorgio Tsoukalos claims. So far as I know, ancient sources specify that Apollo was the specially-worshiped god of Hyperborea, but I know of no claim that he traveled back and forth from Greece to Hyperborea. Instead, the fiery chariot is from the myth of Phaeton, who crashed the sun’s (later Apollo’s) chariot into Hyperborea in a failed attempt to be the sun god. Here Ancient Aliens channels Star Trek in calling Apollo an “ancient astronaut” who came to teach us.
In this version of the show, Erich von Däniken shrieks that Stone Age people could not have understood triangles like those found at Carnac. In S06E01 “The Power of Three,” it was David Childress who made the same claim, which I criticized thus:
…you can play connect the dots with “thousands” of standing stones at Carnac to form “right” triangles, but the illustration shows us one right triangle, one isosceles triangle, and one equilateral triangle, all formed by cherry-picking specific stones among the many on the ground. For the math impaired: isosceles and equilateral triangles are not subject to the Pythagorean Theorem (except for right isosceles triangles with two 45 degree angles).
David Childress falsely claims that Carnac can be seen from space and is a perfect guideline for spaceships. It cannot be seen from space as conventionally defined. Each individual stone has barely more of a footprint than the rotund Childress himself, and I doubt he would claim himself as so big as to be seen from space. Childress tells us that the astronaut Apollo used Carnac to show him which way to fly his spaceship to reach Hyperborea. Apparently Apollo failed to invent the compass despite knowing how to travel interstellar space and map the earth.
The irony is that the round temple of Hyperborea (Diodorus 3.13) has sometimes been identified as Stonehenge, and the show completely misses it in order to wedge the story into Carnac!
Childress goes on to tell us that the Norse gods and Greek gods were very similar and therefore must both be the same spacemen. He is ignorant of the Indo-European heritage of the European pantheons, which accounts for their similarity: They descend from the same Indo-European religion, diversifying slowly over time. I discussed this in my review of Ancient Aliens S05E11 “The Viking Gods”:
The similarities among Indo-European mythologies are so obvious and so pronounced that scholars have spent the better part of two centuries cataloging and analyzing them. Whole incidents from the Iliad can be found in the Mahabharata, and the same magic cauldrons can be found among the Celts and the Greeks. The sun is a wheel or a god driving a wheeled chariot wherever the Indo-European myths spread. Even the famous “Hamlet’s Mill” of alternative history fame can be found grinding away in both Scandinavia and India. In both detail and in structure and function, the Indo-European myths are very obviously related and can be traced to older sources. In my line of classic reprints, I republished Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore by Walter Keating Kelly, one of the best and most readable introductory guides to these similarities, all the more amazing for being 150 years old.
After the break, we start talking about stonework, and here we seem to be reaching all the way back to the pilot episode, the first to discuss the “mysteries” of Puma Punku. The show later devoted an entire episode (S04E06 “The Mysteries of Puma Punku”) to the site. As with all of the show’s discussions of the Bolivian temple site, we hear the same tired claims: The site is impossible to replicate, impossible in its precision, and impossible for Stone Age people to have built or to have moved its blocks. I have my thoughts on these claims here, but Ancient Aliens Debunked went into much more detail about how and why Ancient Aliens is wrong about (a) the perfection of Puma Punku and (b) the impossibility of ancient people to carve its blocks.
Tsoukalos further claims that the Inca site of Sacsayhuaman was built with blocks poured from “molten rock” (lava?), but geology refutes him. They are not poured but carved. Just to be logical: If every rock is a different shape, they would need a different mold for each rock—which is almost as much material to build the molds as rock to build the walls! Talk about inefficient.
After the break Linda Moulton Howe gushes about Göbekli Tepe, the Turkish site with stone pillars dating back twelve thousand years can be seen—the oldest known on earth. Graham Hancock appeals to ignorance, telling us that the builders simply appear out of nowhere; therefore, because we don’t have the missing link between this temple and Paleolithic cave-dwellers, there must be a lost civilization. Funny, though, that he said the same thing back when he saw no missing link between Çatal Hoyuk and the cave dwellers… Like creationists, there is for him always another missing link.
Howe demands to know why no stone carving tools have been found at Göbekli Tepe; perhaps the answer is that the builders took them home with them from the sacred site, just as today we would not leave a backhoe parked next to a church. The Great Pyramid contains no stone-carving tools, nor the Parthenon. Andrew Collins calls the site’s carvings “weird” and tells us that they represent Noah’s Ark in stone since the site is but 350 miles from Mt. Ararat. The narrator then asks if Göbekli Tepe proves the Great Flood of the Bible actually happened at the end of the last Ice Age, and did the Göbekli Tepe people record the Flood in their pillars? How bizarre. There isn’t anything that references flooding or water, and it makes little sense when the narrator then asks if alien technology helped build the site. How does that even connect?
After the break, the show accepts Matest M. Agrest’s 1959 assertion that the Lebanese site of Baalbek had to have been an alien construction because the stone foundation is too big and too heavy for humans to move. They are the largest rocks ever moved by humans. I discussed this in response to episode S05E03 “Alien Power Plants,” noting first that the discussion even then had been recycled from still earlier shows:
We start with a list of the heaviest rocks ancient peoples moved, which seem wrong to me. I don’t think the rocks used in the stone platform called the trilithon at Baalbek were 4.8 million pounds (2,400 tons), as the show claims. As far as I can tell from real archaeological sources, the biggest rock there is only 800 tons. (A graphic the program uses shows three trilithon rocks together, so they must be counting all three as one weight, even though they would have been moved separately.) The Romans routinely moved rocks in the hundreds of tons, including 500 ton Egyptian obelisks, and no one pretends they had electricity and motors, since the Roman authors never wrote anything about them. I’ve previously given this link which explains Baalbek in great detail. The ancient astronaut “theorists” (AATs) claim that modern machine quarrying techniques are needed to move such large rocks under the theory of “I don’t know; therefore, aliens.”
The show falsely claims that archaeology confirms that the foundation stones date back “tens of thousands of years” when in fact the foundation stones—the trilithon—were put into place in the Roman era, as I discussed last year. Agrest thought that the platform was a launch pad for rockets, but here we get a slightly different concept—that it was a landing pad for UFOs. Childress calls it a “spaceport.” No ancient astronaut theorist has ever done a soil analysis or any sort of objective test to look for the chemical signatures associated with rockets blasting off or whatever type of propulsion system you imagine your UFO uses. Heck, there isn’t even a loose screw that fell off a passing space craft.
After another break, we travel to Easter Island to ask if the colossal stone heads, the moai, depict aliens. Frankly, they always looked more like H. P. Lovecraft to me. The show doesn’t really want to deal with the idea that the island’s trees had been used in moving the moai, so it simply attributes the desertification of the island to “unknown” forces rather than human action. This is in keeping with the narrator’s claim that visitors wondered how “such primitive people could have created the moai.” In fact, the show brings on archaeologist Charles Love of Western Wyoming Community College to assert that there were no trees and therefore the Easter Islanders could not have used wood to move the moai. Love excavates at Easter Island, and I find it hard to believe that he is ignorant of the careful work done with pollen studies and other lines of evidence that prove that there were trees on Easter Island at the time of human settlement. The show prefers to rely on oral histories recorded at least 300 years after the fact to assert that the “gods” gave the inhabitants of the island anti-gravity technology. The show falsely asserts that this technology was the magic power called mana, but according to Katherine Routledge’s Mysteries of Easter Island (1919)—the show’s acknowledged source--mana was simply a general form of supernatural power. Almost anything could be impregnated with mana, and mana was not restricted to a single type of action. Besides, the oral history Routledge recorded is decidedly less impressive than Ancient Aliens pretends:
There was a certain old woman who lived at the southern corner of the mountain and tilled the position of cook to the image-makers. She was the most important person of the establishment, and moved the images by supernatural power (mana), ordering them about at her will. One day, when she was away, the workers obtained a fine lobster, which had been caught on the west coast, and ate it up, leaving none for her; unfortunately they forgot to conceal the remains, and when the cook returned and found how she had been treated, she arose in her wrath, told all the images to fall down, and thus brought the work to a standstill.
Oh, and the image makers aren’t aliens, either. “A few names are still remembered in connection with the individual figures, and are said to be those of the makers of the images, and some proof is afforded of the reality of the tradition by the fact that the clans of the persons named are consistently given.”
This is not quite the same as the dramatic claim on Ancient Aliens that the gods gave the islander mana anti-gravity power to precision-place the statues by flying them through the air. Funny how they left out that an old cook moved the statues, or that she destroyed them over a lobster dinner snub. In short, the book they cite refutes their own claims since there isn’t anything about aliens or anti-gravity in it in connection with the statues.
The show ends with outraged demands to learn how Florida’s Coral Castle was really built, since they doubt that a single man could move its coral stones. They were put in place with levers. It’s been debunked to death. The show prefers to believe that an anti-gravity device was involved.
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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