The great thing about mythology is that the stories can be applied to any particular situation. This was true in ancient times, and it remains true today. As with literary interpretation, the audience brings to the story at least as much as the story gives to them. Tonight’s episode of Ancient Aliens, S11E07 “The Wisdom Keepers,” makes good use of the relative freedom myth provides to imagine that blinkered native people the world over were hoodwinked into worshiping space aliens as gods and therefore make them into the characters of their myths. Since a myth is a fantastical story to begin with, there is less to get wrong than when ancient astronaut theorists make various claims about physical artifacts, genetics, and other more scientifically topics.
To top it off, the show also manages to be relatively original in its content, or at least less direct in its recycling. Earlier recycling seems to have saved money to send Giorgio Tsoukalos to Australia for this episode.
And Ancient Aliens could use a bit more oomph because last week’s episode was a huge ratings disappointment, the first new episode to dip below the one million viewer mark in years. Only 983,000 people watched last Friday.
Our episode tonight is devoted entirely to Australia, more specifically the Aborigines of Australia and their myths and legends. We open with UFO sightings in Australia and commentary from Duncan Roads of Nexus magazine, a longtime publisher of ancient astronaut material. David Childress declares Australia one of most mysterious continents. Indeed, that must be correct. I’d easily put it in my top seven. After this, we get a potted history of Australia and its peoples, and it’s a bit interesting that narrator Robert Clotworthy seems to have had his voice slowed down to stretch out the content over a longer period. He’s definitely speaking more slowly than in earlier seasons.
The show receives its commentary on the Aborigines from Kevin Gavi Duncan, an Aboriginal activist. He says nothing particularly controversial, so the narrator tries to connect the Aborigines to the stars by using evidence that was old when Erich von Däniken used it decades ago. Aboriginal cave art frequently depicts stylized human heads with large black eyes and a halo around the head, called Wandjinas, which ancient astronaut theorists think resemble Grey aliens. The Wandjinas are rain gods, and the halos represent storm clouds.
Gary Simon Jagamarra, another Aborigine, seems to be well versed in ancient astronaut theory, so he explicitly makes the Wandjinas into aliens who came in “craft” from the sky.
In the second segment, filmed this February, Ancient Aliens sent Tsoukalos to meet with Duncan to discuss Aboriginal mythology, specifically the sky hero who holds the moon and the morning star in his hands and descended from the Milky Way in a canoe. The show interprets the myth, which is astrological in nature, as the literal description of a flying saucer landing on a nearby mountain. Duncan reveals himself to be an ancient astronaut theorist and identifies the sky hero’s canoe as a “spaceship.” To make the case that the myths are correct in gods flying through the sky, it draws a connection to the fact that oral histories accurately retained memories of geological changes in the Australian landscape since the Ice Age. William Henry says that sky beings are as likely to be fact as climate change.
Our third segment dips into the special well of bizarre claims that have mostly remained confined to Australia over the past decade. At several points in the 2000s Nexus magazine claimed that Egyptian hieroglyphs had been found in Australia, and in 2012 New Dawn, another Australian magazine, alleged that Egyptian inscriptions proved a voyage from Egypt to Australia. Such claims align with Barry Fell’s long-ago fantasy of an Egyptian circumnavigation of the Earth, but at the time of initial publication, experts who visited the site of the alleged hieroglyphs about an hour outside of Sydney determined that they were modern graffiti. As I reported in 2012, the claims for Egyptian hieroglyphs were vastly overstated by their proponent, Steve Strong:
But Strong, who believes he and he alone has uniquely understood the true origins of humanity as evolving in, of course, Australia, also claims that the fake glyphs have been “translated” from the “proto-Egyptian” and accepted by the director of the Cairo Museum. But his source is Hans Dieter von Sneff, an 80-something-year-old pseudoscientist with documented problems separating fact from fiction. Oh, and the directory of the Cairo Museum? Dia’ Abou-Ghazi was director in the middle twentieth century and conveniently too dead to confirm the story.
Steve Strong’s son Evan Strong leads Giorgio Tsoukalos to the carvings, which look as fake on camera as they did in earlier photographs. As you can read on this site the “Egyptologist” that Evan Strong claims identified the hieroglyphs as Australian, Raymond Johnson, is not an actual Egyptologist and also dead. But what does this have to do with aliens? Nothing, really, except that fringe history is all of a piece and the underlying motive is to discredit “academic” history at any cost.
Jagamarra claims that a boomerang was found in “the last pyramid,” whatever that is supposed to mean, and therefore the Egyptians gained their wisdom and technology from Australia. A tool similar to a boomerang called a throwing stick was invented by the Egyptians to hunt birds. It is independent of, and different than, the Australian boomerang. Implausible ethnocentric pride knows no bounds, and occurs everywhere.
Our next segment opens in Mullumbimby on Australia’s eastern coast, where we discuss Frederic Slater’s 1930s belief that he had discovered a large, megalithic stone circle. Like many Australians, he, too, had the hardheaded belief that his particular home must be the center of the universe. Therefore, he decided that all humanity had evolved in Mullumbimby. Or so the show says. I can find no documents about this, and I think that they are referring to the claim Slater made that the standing stones were “the basis of all knowledge, all science, all history and all forms of writing” going back to the “advent of first man.” Slater is better known for his belief that the Aborigines were the descendants of Paleolithic or early Neolithic Egyptians. If that sounds familiar, it's because Evan Strong’s father Steve uses Slater as his major source for his fringe history claims about Australia, described in the preceding segment.
The existence of these standing stones has never been proved, as the site was plowed under decades ago. Smaller Aboriginal stone circles are known to exist in many other places across the continent, however.
David Childress argues that Uluru (Ayers Rock) was “lifted up from somewhere else” and “then just dumped” in the center of Australia. He argues that geologists cannot explain its existence. This isn’t true, and there are extensive geological discussions of Uluru and its origins. Evan Strong claims that the Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent (an embodiment of the rainbow) was really a spaceship that landed on Uluru and thus “seeded” the continent with life.
The fifth segment describes UFO sightings, cryptid sightings, and mysterious disappearances in the Blue Mountains of Australia. The show attributes such sightings to mystical mumbo-jumbo related to 33° S latitude having something to do with a “hyperspace portal.” Oddly enough, such a portal can’t be seen, measured, or found despite being big enough for a space armada to pop through.
The sixth segment reviews the Aboriginal concept of the Dreaming, a trance-like state in which Aborigines communicate with the ancestors and the gods, similar to many other shamanic trances. Needless to say, our ancient astronaut theorists don’t understand this, so they allege that the Dreaming is the same as the Akashic Record, which they persist in believing is a real “Hindu” concept and not an invention of Helena Blavatsky. As with last week’s episode, the show is obsessed with the idea of a holographic universe, so they repeat material from last week and then argue that the Dreaming and the Akashic Record are both proof that the universe is a hologram of “projected data.” I knew we couldn’t make it a whole episode without recycling material. Giorgio Tsoukalos concludes that Aboriginals are the last culture with direct contact with the aliens, and Duncan claims that the Aborigines came to Earth from outer space.
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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