My son was none too happy trying to sleep last night, and so my review probably has extra typos this week because of my tired eyes. I am sure I probably missed a few crazy claims as well. Oh well. This week’s episode of Ancient Aliens, “City of the Gods,” is devoted to the city of Teotihuacan, which is not terribly original of them since they have been claiming the city to be evidence of alien involvement since the first season of the show. On the other hand, we had a Maya specialist and a (sort of) UCLA physicist on to trade their intellectual credibility for TV air time.
The show opens with Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital buried beneath Mexico City, and explains that the Aztec had legends of originating in a different area. Even though the Aztec thought of themselves as immigrants from the north, the show falsely alleges that the Aztec originated at Teotihuacan, taking rather literally the Aztec myth that the city is the place where the gods came to Earth. Teotihuacan, however, had been abandoned for centuries before the Aztec ever came down from the north. Citing the 1596 account of Geronimo de Mendieta (Historia eclesiástica Indiana 2.1-2), the show recounts the story of the gods coming down from the sky in a knife-shaped piece of flint, which has been compared to a UFO landing but also to the descent of the Watchers. I will quote part of it because I can:
… But while the people of each province gave their accounts (of the creation) in various ways, for the most part they came to the conclusion that in the sky there was a god called Citlalatonac and a goddess called Citlalicue, and that the goddess gave birth to a large knife or flint (which in their language is called técpatl). On seeing this, her sons were frightened and agreed to cast the large knife from the sky, and so they undertook this action and the knife fell to a certain part of the earth which is called Chicmoztoc, meaning the Seven Caves. They say there emerged from it 1,600 gods (which seems to be an attempt to explain the fall of the evil angels), and they say that these beings, seeing themselves thus fallen and banished and without servants, agreed to send a message to the goddess their mother saying that because they had been cast out and banished it would be good if she were to give them permission, power, and a way to create men who could provide service for them. And their mother responded that if they deserved them, they would always have been in their company; however, they were unworthy of this, and if they wanted to have servants here on earth, then they would have to go beg of Mictlan Tecutli, Lord or Chief of Hades, that he may give them a bone or some ashes of the dead that are with him; over which having received they shall sacrifice themselves, that from this a man and woman might emerge who would then multiply. (2.1, trans. Hubert Howe Bancroft, adapted)
After this passage, the gods go ahead and create humans as servants.
Giorgio Tsoukalos declares this to be evidence of “a landing of some type of a craft.” The show then describes Teotihuacan in detail with the help of Maya Exploration Center Director Dr. Ed Barnhart, who lends his credibility to this travesty. As a technical matter Mendieta did not place the descent of the gods in this city but rather, in 2.2, claimed that the gods gathered later at Teotihuacan to resurrect the sun, long after humans had bred and multiplied.
The show then alleges that the builders of Teotihuacan were not human.
The second segment describes the pyramids of Teotihuacan, which like most Mesoamerican pyramids, was enlarged over time by adding new layers atop the old, a convenient way of saving labor by using the old building as the core of the new. The show claims that the oldest layers are the most “advanced,” and we hear tell that the rocks are too hard for ancient people to have carved with stone tools, and to this we have the allegation that “thousands” of years ago an advanced megalithic building stood where the Temple of the Feathered Serpent now stands. However, this is really just a claim designed to prove the existence of Noah’s Flood, because we are all creationists now. The support for this allegation comes from a series of suspect sources: Catholic missionaries, who had an incentive to view Native mythology through Christian lenses, and Victorian archaeologists, who did not have the scientific knowledge to understand what they were looking at and therefore thought the pyramids had been buried in Earth by the Flood.
Following this, we receive a discussion of excavations under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, where liquid mercury had was uncovered. Wilcock and Tsoukalos say that because liquid mercury doesn’t exist in nature, they cannot understand how ancient Mexicans could have figured out how to extract if from cinnabar, or to have handled it “without dying out.” Look, I know mercury is toxic, but generations of people used mercury in thermometers and other devices, and my father used to have a jar of it for repairing antique equipment. I have handled mercury and am not dead. Tsoukalos adds that the “only other site” with liquid mercury is the tomb of the First Emperor in China, though as a technical matter, we don’t actually know that. Readings found high mercury levels in the mound that houses the tomb, but it is only the description of Sima Qian that supports the claim that mercury was used as a decorative element: “Mercury was used to create imitations of the hundred rivers, the Yellow River, the Yangtze, and the vast seas, and machines made it so they seemed to flow from one to another” (my trans.). Tsoukalos says we must ask “what it was used for,” and the narrator adds that it has electrical and technological uses, but Sima Qian pretty much explains the real ancient use for it. Water evaporates. Mercury doesn’t, so it was a good substitute for decorative purposes.
The third segment repeats material from Season 6 and discusses gold colored spheres located in the same place. The show claims they are alien technology (back in Season 6 they were supposed to be a star map!), but they were probably actually an ancient version of a disco ball. The show then discusses the layers of mica found in in places in the city. This includes material from Erich von Däniken, who saw and described the mica layers within the walls of underground chambers back in the 1970s. The narrator and Tsoukalos allege that the mica was used as a heat shield for high tech activities. It appears that there is no current widely accepted explanation for the mica, though from what I have read, the show has overstated the amount of mica walls and floors currently known.
The fourth segment describes the evidence for a great fire that damaged the monumental core of the city during the period of its collapse. However, while the narrator says modern archaeologists suggest the fire was caused by peasants in revolt (in the real world, Dean Snow, more rigorously, notes that burning is associated with conquest in Mesoamerica), a Victorian archaeologist though the fire damage was too extensive to have been caused by “torches,” so the show has on a looney tune to claim that the people of the city were harnessing free energy when their generator exploded, burning the city. The actual evidence shows a systematic destruction of the city’s monuments and shrines, which cuts against the show’s pretend claim, given by Will Hart and William Henry, that pyramids channel “the power of the Earth” to beam free energy into the sky.
To try to make some of this make sense, David Childress claims that the city’s mercury was part of a propulsion system for spaceships, a claim he bases on the Samarangana Sutradhara, a medieval Sanskrit encyclopedia. The claim that UFOs run on mercury, based on this text, dates back to (of course) the 1970s. In support of this, David Wilcock visits UCLA adjunct physics instructor James Lincoln, an intellectual prostitute who happily collaborated with purveyors of fiction to demonstrate how mercury could be used to make an electromagnetic levitation system for flying saucers. Sorry… that was the sleep deprivation talking. Let us instead more generously assume that he is simply an opportunist who is happy to raise the profile of his YouTube Channel with a visit to a cable TV show that laughs in the face of every scientific principle he allegedly holds dear.
The fifth segment recaps the previous four and then goes way back in time, about five years, to repeat its own claims about the city of Teotihuacan serving as a celestial map. First it repeats Robert Bauval’s claim that the three largest pyramids align with Orion’s belt—even though the smallest Teothuacan pyramid allegedly correlates to the brightest star of Orion’s belt and vice versa. Then it repeats the 1970s allegation that the city is a map of the solar system. As I noted at the time, “But even here, in Ancient Aliens’ own graphic, it is painfully obvious that the ‘correlation’ is based entirely on picking and choosing among buildings—selecting every tiny structure around Quetzalcoatl’s temple, but ignoring all the structures between the temples of the Sun and Moon.” It’s kind of funny that the “correlation” includes Pluto, which is no longer considered a planet, but excludes other dwarf planets now known. Amazing the way these correlations always match to the conventional knowledge of the time in which they were proposed.
The final segment records supposed flying saucers photographed over the pyramid of the sun. Frankly, they look like bugs to me, but my eyes are a little bleary, and I just don’t care. Even the show doesn’t care much. It moves on quickly and ends with the usual empty rhetoric about how looking into questions of ancient knowledge can lead us to space aliens, even though, in the strictest sense, they didn’t make any claims that some super-civilization like Atlantis, or a voyage of time-traveling Freemasons, couldn’t also account for. The longer the show goes on, the fewer aliens seem to be 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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