The Mutual UFO Network found itself in a PR nightmare after its Pennsylvania director, John Ventre, went on a racist tirade on Facebook. Ventre, who appeared as the face of MUFON on H2’s Hangar 1: The UFO Files and was a featured speaker on an “Ancient Mysteries” cruise, denounced so-called anti-white bias and expressed his belief that “everything this world is was created by Europeans and Americans. F’ing blacks didn’t even have a calendar, a wheel or a numbering system until the Brits showed up.” He then asked readers to research the racial inferiority of Blacks in terms of IQ and violent tendencies. MUFON’s executive director acknowledged the situation with a weasel-like statement that minimized Ventre’s role in the organization, calling him a mere “volunteer,” and asking whether the “haters hating” are in fact worse than Ventre expressing white supremacist views. The fact of the matter is that white supremacy is so deeply enmeshed in ancient astronaut and other conspiracy theory claims that it is wholly unsurprising that in a moment of unintentional honesty a MUFON official would express it openly.
This is as good a transition as any to the subtler racism of Ancient Aliens, where the original claim that black and brown peoples couldn’t build their ancient wonders has been mitigated with claims that white people without alien hybridization couldn’t either. The current episode, “The Alien Architects,” attributes various ancient wonders to space aliens and continues the long and sad history of trying to deny that ancient people, predominantly (but today not exclusively) brown ones, were capable of producing the architectural feats associated with them.
The first segment opens with a repeat of material from years ago (2012 in fact) about a Cambodian pyramid and one in Tikal that have a vaguely similar shape, that of a step pyramid with a temple on top. It goes on to repeat stories from last season about encounters with gods who were associated with architecture or building. Not content merely to repeat themselves, they raise Ignatius Donnelly’s old question about why ancient people built buildings in geometric shapes, pyramids and circles, and in large stone blocks. Well, pyramids are the most efficient way to build tall buildings without steel frames, and large stone blocks are simply more efficient to carve. Think about surface area. One big rectangular block has six faces to carve, but dividing that into four small blocks adds eight more faces to carve (the dividing lines between the blocks), making it much more time-consuming to carve and shape the blocks. I’d choose the faster way, too.
In the days of the Greeks, the Mycenaean ruins were considered so old and so massive that no human could build them. They assumed the Mycenaean ruins had been built by gigantic cyclopes. The Arabs believed that the pyramids were built of blocks so massive that the Nephilim must have built them. Medieval people attributes Stonehenge to the giants, and the Nephilim were also a favorite culprit for the Nuragic towers of Sardinia. We have not progressed much since those days, if ancient astronaut theorists are to be believed. Substitute aliens for giants and the argument hasn’t changed since Pausanias wrote about it nearly 2,000 years ago.
The second segment discusses the familiar question of whether irregularly shaped megalithic blocks used in Andean and Egyptian temples imply a connection. It is probably a case of similar solutions to similar problems: Irregular interlocking stones are more stable, in the absence of mortar, than regular rectangles, whose blocks will slide off in an earthquake. Scott Creighton wonders why this type of architecture “was their first choice” around the ancient world because they are so hard to work with, but he is thinking in terms of our culture’s love of cheap temporary buildings meant to last only decades. On the other hand, ancient people were building to last centuries. After all, they are still around. Big and secure was more important than easy.
After this, we see a segment that, if not directly recycled from his In Search of Aliens episode that visited Santorini to examine cyclopean architecture, it is a remarkable recreation of that segment.
At one point, Freddy Silva actually acknowledges that the cyclopean style is “earthquake proof,” accidentally refuting the earlier point that it is inexplicable. We also hear about metal pieces that join stones together, an issue that goes back to an In Search of Aliens episode on Puma Punku.
What? You thought that they could sustain four full episodes without going down the recycling well?
Our third segment takes us to the Great Pyramid, perhaps the most frequently discussed structure in the history of Ancient Aliens. The show briefly acknowledges that there are dozens upon dozens of hypotheses, mostly fictional, about the pyramid, and this how alleges that the pyramid is the most perfectly aligned building in human history, a claim that I would doubt. Recycling almost point for point a season 5 episode they previously borrowed from earlier in this same episode, we rehearse the claim that the pyramid is at the center of the earth’s landmass, a false Victorian claim, and a bunch of mathematical coincidences that allegedly hold great meaning in terms of fractions and multiples of geodetic and cosmic measurements. These claims are 150 years old, but they are examples of looking for meaning. For example, they note that the pyramid’s latitude has the same digits as the speed of light expressed in meters per second. But since the meter wasn’t given its current length until 1983 (refining a measurement going back only to 1793), what exactly is this supposed to mean?
We hear, too, of the Orion Correlation Theory, and we get a repeat of the claim that Teotihuacan’s main pyramids align with Orion, too. The show forgets that it previously advocated (multiple times!) the idea that those same pyramids were actually a scale model of the solar system.
In the fourth segment, the show exploits the teenager who falsely concluded that a Mayan document proved that the cities of the Maya were placed to mimic the stars. I discussed last year why William Gadoury’s claim is false, and it is unfair of Ancient Aliens to continue promoting the young man’s false claims when they know damned well that the kid was wrong. But perhaps they deserve each other; last year the teen announced his belief that scientists were “jealous” of him and “scared” of his ideas.
After this, the show repeats material about ley lines that we just covered in the preceding episode. Obviously, this was not the show’s first trip down the ley line garden path, and they add nothing new in the latest recycling of claims that were wrongheaded when first proposed nearly a century ago. On the plus side, as a twentieth century claim, invented in 1921, ley lines are at least a bit newer than the Victorian pyramid claims from the previous segment.
The fifth segment discusses a sacred sinkhole under Chichen Itza’s El Castillo pyramid, which, like other Maya pyramids, contains a superstructure encasing earlier layers of construction. David Childress finds this bizarre and considers that the location of rebuilt pyramids around the world must be too sacred to abandon. Of course, using a preexisting building as a base is also a huge help in building your own bigger building, cutting the volume of material needed significantly. Ah, but that’s practical! Aliens don’t need to worry about practical concerns.
The show weirdly compares Maya pyramids to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem because the Muslims built a mosque where the destroyed Jewish Temple once stood. The idea is supposed to be that the sanctity of the site dictates the architectural placement, but the show doesn’t think that this is a cultural phenomenon but rather an objectively physical one related to loci of Earth energy. The show cites Ivan T. Sanderson’s efforts to make a world grid to locate these energy nodes, but the fact is that few fringe researchers actually agree on where the grid lines actually are. David Wilcock is almost certainly wrong in citing Russian (but of course) researchers that every stone building from ancient times is placed on such a grid. Several stone structures are close together, relatively speaking; they cannot all be on the same grid line unless such a line is so wide as to be meaningless or the lines are so close together as to include everything on the Earth. For example, the Russian model cited doesn’t include the Nuraghe of Sardinia, according to this map from a popular fringe site linked above:
The map shown on Ancient Aliens keeps adding lines until they are overlapping in their multitudes.
Segment 6 goes back to a third season episode about how UFOs follow an ancient energy grid similar to ley lines. As in earlier episodes, they imply that the grid generates renewable energy that we can use to reach the stars. It adds nothing to this earlier discussion but does remind us that the show is happier revisiting its own past than actually trying to make a coherent argument for alien architects.
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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