We’ve entered the third week of Ancient Aliens Special Edition, the all-rerun episodes compiled from bits and pieces of earlier outings. This episode, S06E22, is called “Mysterious Devices” and covers what the show claims is anomalous high technology from ancient times. For them, the Nazis are also ancient, but that is par for the course.
The first segment covers Egyptian technology, starting with the so-called Gantenbrink Door in the Great Pyramid’s Queen Chamber air shaft. The program suggests that there must be something secret hidden behind the door, and Philip Coppens talks about how “intact” pyramid chambers were found with no mummies and prove that the pyramids were not tombs. Here is how I critiqued that when this segment first aired in episode S05E03 (rerunning material that also appeared in S05E01).
He appears to be referring to Horus-Sekhem-Khet’s unfinished pyramid, whose burial chamber was found sealed in 1953 and when opened in 1954 proved empty. Coppens discusses this in his Canopus Revelation (2004). Archaeologists believe that when the pyramid was abandoned, the burial chamber was sealed as a decoy and the king buried elsewhere. Somehow this one intact empty burial chamber becomes “many” when Coppens, in his final Ancient Aliens interview, misremembered his own work. In his book Coppens quotes Kurt Mendelsshon as lamenting the “too many empty tomb chambers,” but Mendelsshon was no archaeologist; he was a physicist who argued that he pyramids were symbolic tombs, cenotaphs, not actual tombs. But mummies have been found in pyramids, including that of Queen Seshseshet at Saqqara; and Al-Maqrizi preserved the report of those who first entered the Giza pyramids and claimed that “Bodies buried in the pyramid were, they say, wrapped in cloth frayed by time and that this was made of thread of gold impregnated with compounds that formed a mass of myrrh and aloe to the thickness of a span.” A good description of a mummy, no?
After this we review Chris Dunn’s Giza Power Plant theory, which argues that the Great Pyramid was a machine for generating electrical power. This material has been covered on several episodes, including S05E03, which I reviewed:
In the pyramids there are symbolic passageways, closed to the outside, pointing to the stars. Because they are closed, AATs tell us that the pyramid was really a power plant, on the authority of Chris Dunn, who follows his Victorian predecessors in attributing to the pyramid fabulous precision (to “a fraction of an inch”—which isn’t true: Flinders Petrie, for example found a discrepancy in the orientation between core and casing stones amounting to 75 inches) and thus making it a machine capable of generating electricity due to “vibrations” caused by water flooding the subterranean chamber. To make this work, Dunn suggests that hydrogen gas was pumped into the pyramid (from what pumps?) to create a proton energy beam. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Egyptians had any hydrogen gas or could manufacture or store it (no impermeable containers for such gas have ever been found); he deduces the gas based on the suitability of the King’s Chamber’s dimensions for a laser system to run the gas system! And where were the lasers attached? There aren’t any holes to hold them. “We can use our imaginations and come up with all kinds of devices” to run on the imaginary proton beam, Dunn says. No fooling.
I suppose I should have mentioned the hydrated zinc and hydrochloric acid he apparently feels were essential to creating the hydrogen gas, but does it really matter? Dunn’s theory depends on the air shafts being open, but they were not. They were sealed behind the walls until they were cut open in modern times.
After the break, we turn to what they claim will be a discussion of the Ark of the Covenant, with material from a much older episode to judge by the narrator’s slower pace and more stentorian enunciation. But this material was already repeated once before, in S06E10 “Aliens and the Lost Ark”:
…We hear about the march around Jericho and the trumpets the brought down the walls, and we get some speculation that suggests without ever really saying so that the Ark sent out pressure waves to blow down the walls.
The older version replaces pressure waves with “sonic weapons,” which David Wilcock describes as similar to “death ray technology.” It also suggests that archaeologists believed Jericho was destroyed by an earthquake, though the show clearly doesn’t want you to believe that.
The funny thing is that they don’t actually talk about the Ark of the Covenant except to allude to its alleged role as an amplifier for Joshua’s trumpets. The producers obviously don’t care.
So instead of talking about the promised Ark material, we instead turn to the Antikythera Mechanism, the Hellenistic Greek clockwork astronomical computer. The show declares it an anomaly impossible for the Greeks to have manufactured, but those of us who know history know better. Cicero had described one such device in De re publica 1.14, and they were quite obviously not as rare or unique as the show implies:
But as soon as Gallus had begun to explain, in a most scientific manner, the principle of this [Archimedes’] machine, I felt that the Sicilian geometrician must have possessed a genius superior to anything we usually conceive to belong to our nature. For Gallus assured us that that other solid and compact globe was a very ancient invention, and that the first model had been originally made by Thales of Miletus. That afterward Eudoxus of Cnidus, a disciple of Plato, had traced on its surface the stars that appear in the sky, and that many years subsequently, borrowing from Eudoxus this beautiful design and representation, Aratus had illustrated it in his verses, not by any science of astronomy, but by the ornament of poetic description. He added that the figure of the globe, which displayed the motions of the sun and moon, and the five planets, or wandering stars, could not be represented by the primitive solid globe; and that in this the invention of Archimedes was admirable, because he had calculated how a single revolution should maintain unequal and diversified progressions in dissimilar motions. In fact, when Gallus moved this globe, we observed that the moon succeeded the sun by as many turns of the wheel in the machine as days in the heavens. From whence it resulted that the progress of the sun was marked as in the heavens, and that the moon touched the point where she is obscured by the earth’s shadow at the instant the sun appears opposite… [text breaks off] (source)
Next we get a repeat segment about the Denderah Light Bulb, a carving on an Egyptian temple wall that looks vaguely like an incandescent light bulb, since aliens didn’t have LED or CFL technology. In reviewing S05E03, I said “Would it surprise anyone that the “Dendera (Denderah) light bulb,” really an image of a snake in a lotus blossom, is trotted out once again as an alleged depiction of ancient electric work? It wasn’t convincing when Erich von Däniken talked about it 40 or 50 years ago; it isn’t convincing now.” Still isn’t.
Reversing the order of appearance from S05E03, we back up to replay their segment on the Baghdad Battery, which again I previously reviewed:
The closest to ancient electricity Ancient Aliens can come is the alleged “Baghdad battery,” a small clay pot with a piece of copper found inside, which archaeologists have patiently explained could have been used as a battery, but did not necessarily have to function as a battery. (Any container with the right metal shards stuck in it could be a battery, even the famous middle school potato battery.) Although the small container and the bits of metal inside might have generated a small current in the presence of an acid (possibly for use in electroplating), the artifact as unearthed would not produce a current because (a) the copper is completely insulated and thus would not conduct current, and (b) there is no wiring or conductor to transmit electricity out from the battery. Even if it was a battery, it generated so little electricity (less than four volts) that it was essentially a novelty item.
Unlike George Noory’s confident assertion that the clay pot was definitely a battery and David Childress’s assertion that archaeologists consider electric use in the Roman period as a “fact,” there is no evidence that the pots were definitely used as batteries. Besides, what does it mean for aliens that they came to earth and gave Roman-era Mesopotamians technology less impressive than the aforementioned potato battery? Frankly, the potato would have been more useful.
After the break, we discuss the alleged Nazi Bell device, a supposed time machine. The segment seen here seems to be from an older episode, and it was recapitulated in a shorter form in S04E09 “The Time Travelers,” where different speakers voiced the same opinions. Apparently I didn’t think much of this claim the first time I saw it in S04E09, especially since it has nothing to do with ancient history or aliens:
Conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs, author Rise of the Fourth Reich, has nothing very interesting to say, and Mike Bara, an alien theorist with very little connection to reality, then argues that the Nazis invented a time machine shaped like a bell and disappeared into an alternative timeline. Could Bara join them? It would seem like the people who are so certain about these ideas ought to go and build one of these time machines they profess to know exactly how to make and leave this timeline in peace.
Mike Bara doesn’t appear this time; Jim Marrs instead asserts that key Nazi leaders escaped the Allied invasion of Germany by fleeing through a wormhole in the Bell. How repetitive can this show get that each subject has multiple episodes offering slightly different versions of the same story? This makes at least three segments on the Nazi Bell alone.
After the break we turn to the infamous nuclear weapons of the Sanskrit epics. Giorgio Tsoukalos refuses believe that the Mahabharata is a myth and therefore believes that the story’s powerful divine weapons are really nuclear. Vishnu’s arrows, which always find their target, are likened to heat-seeking missiles, but Giorgio Tsoukalos concludes from the simile that the original description was of a heat-seeking missile, even though heat is never mentioned. Based on this conclusion, he back-forms a claim that the ancients knew of heat-seeking missiles. The divine arrow that always hits its target is hardly beyond imagination; the Greeks also thought their gods were so potent that every woman they slept with instantly became pregnant. The gods, being divine, cannot fail.
The most important of the Mahabharata weapons is the Brahmastra, the incendiary weapon that would obliterate the universe. This is all well and good, but the Brahmastra was never used, as even the show admits, and in the epic the weapon existed only in the realm of pure thought, activated by the mental power of deep meditation. You know, like an H-bomb. Anyway, this and the following segment come from S03E09 “Aliens and Deadly Weapons,” which I reviewed:
Then we had a segment about the alleged deadly weapons of the Mahabharata. Unfortunately, as I have demonstrated not once or twice but three times on separate grounds, these claims are completely false and based on fabrication and lies. Criticism such as mine must be having some impact, however. Ancient Aliens at least refrained from using the completely fabricated quotation that is a standard part of ancient alien theorists’ repertoire. Instead, they contorted themselves to talk around the false quotation, avoiding any direct citation of the Mahabharata. Instead, the talking heads simply asserted that the book contained tales of nuclear bombs and heat-seeking missiles, without ever citing actual passages. This is because those passages, when read in full, bear almost no resemblance to their alleged modern equivalents.
To get around this problem, the show suggests that Archimedes was “inspired” by the alien god Zeus’ laser-beam thunderbolt death ray, even though Archimedes’ mirror is nothing like a lightning bolt or a laser blaster.
The show finishes by inserting a segment about the vitrified forts of Scotland, which archaeologists believe were intentionally burned as either an act of ritual closure or to render them useless. The stones did not turn to “glass” as the show claims, and no special heat rays are necessary to vitrify the stone. Ordinary fire works fine. Basalt, for example, requires a temperature of 1100 degrees C to vitrify, and as experiments in the 1930s showed a good fire will reach 1200 degrees C, unlike Wilcock’s claim that fire cannot reach that heat. There’s more on the vitrifying process here, but suffice it to say that the process can be replicated using Iron Age technology. Instead, the show wants us to assign vitrification to alien super-weapons. “How else can we explain all those numerous vitrified forts where the surface is as smooth as glass?” Tsoukalos asks. Tsoukalos also falsely asserts that the vitrified forts can be found only in Scotland; that was true if your knowledge comes only from half-remembered summaries of Charles Fort, who wrote about them a century ago in The Book of the Damned:
The stones of these forts exist to this day, vitrified, or melted and turned to glass. The archaeologists have jumped from one conclusion to another, like the "rapid chamois" we read of a while ago, to account for vitrified forts, always restricted by the commandment that unless their conclusions conformed to such tenets as Exclusionism, of the System, they would be excommunicated. […] Something once had effect, similar to lightning, upon forts, mostly on hills, in Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Bohemia. But upon hills, all over the rest of the world, are remains of forts that are not vitrified.
Today examples are known from across continental Europe, including France, Germany, and Hungary. Fort had the excuse that he lived before archaeologists conducted tests to replicate the vitrification and in an age when the extent of ancient forests was unknown when he complained the such forts are inexplicable and too far from supplies of wood. But Tsoukalos has no such excuses; he is simply parroting ancient talking points, and Ancient Aliens follows suit, offering a repeat of a summary of outdated speculation built on an appeal to ignorance.
That about sums up the modern ancient astronaut theory.
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.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.